Steamers have a long history in ancient China with evidence of tripod steamers being cast as one piece during the Shang period. Such vessels were to be used for sacrificial meals, though over time these steamers lost their religious connotations. Similarly the taotie mask handles were a representation of great auspicious power during the Shang period, however after the end of Zhou, their meaning was reduced to a decorative motif for handles. For a similar Xian steamer see Bluett and Sons, Ancient Chinese Inlaid Bronzes, 1989, p.17. pl.1.