Dagger-axe (ge 戈)

Detail of a pattern
Image 1 of 2

Terms of Use

Usage Conditions Apply

At A Glance

On View
  • Period

    ca. 2000-ca. 1400 BCE
  • Geography

    Probably Henan province, China
  • Material

    Jade (nephrite)
  • Dimension

    H x W x D: 11.8 x 84.1 x 0.9 cm (4 11/16 x 33 1/8 x 3/8 in)
  • Accession Number



Object Details

  • Description

    Large emblematic weapon of the type ko [ge] (one chip missing). Opaque nephrite mottled and striped in shades of gray and yellow gray. Carved and engraved with parallel ridges and lines in various patterns; a conical perforation in the tang.
    Acquired with an inscribed wooden box.
  • Provenance

    Reportedly unearthed at Qishan ??, Fengxiang xian ???, Shaanxi ?? Province; said to be from the grave of the first Duke of Shao (Shao gong ?? ), Shi ?, the Taibao ?? [1]
    To 1911
    Duanfang (1861-1911), Beijing, China [2]
    Descendants of Duanfang, Beijing, China inherited upon Duanfang's death [3]
    You Xiaoxi ??? (late 19th century -- mid-20th century), Shanghai, purchased from Duangfang's family [4]
    Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Seaouke Yue [5]
    From 1920
    Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [4]
    [1] According to Curatorial Remark 2 in the object record. This object was first published in the West in Berthold Laufer, Jade: A Study in Chinese Archaeology and Religion (Chicago: Field Museum of Natural History, 1912), pl. IX, pp. 40-41. Laufer saw this object in Beijing while it was still in the possession of Tuan Fang [Duanfang] ?? (see documentation in accession file,
    F1918.1, Paragraph 2) from whom he obtained a photograph of it and information to the effect that it "was dug up in 1903 not far from the old city in Feng siang fu / Feng hsiang Fu [Fengxiang fu] ??? in Shensi [Shaanxi] ?? province from a considerable depth . . ."
    [2] See notes 1 and 3.
    [3] See letter from You Xiaoxi (Seaouke Yue) to Charles Lang Freer, May 13, 1917, Charles Lang Freer Papers, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives, copy in object file. In this letter, Yue explains that that Duanfang's family will sell the jade sword.
    [4] See Original Miscellaneous List, pg. 307, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. See also cablegram from Seaouke Yue to Charles Lang Freer, August 6, 1917, Charles Lang Freer Papers, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives, copy in object file. The cablegram confirms that that sword and other "curios" has been packed and sent to Detroit from China via Wells Fargo.
    [5] See note 4.
    [6] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.
  • Collection

    Freer Gallery of Art Collection
  • Exhibition History

    Afterlife: Ancient Chinese Jades (October 14, 2017 - ongoing)
    Ancient Chinese Jades and Bronzes (November 20, 2010 to January 3, 2016)
    Ancient Chinese Bronzes (May 9, 1993 to February 10, 1997)
    Ancient Chinese Jade (September 4, 1980 to March 6, 1981)
    Chinese Bronze, Jade, Metalwork (March 1, 1957 to January 1, 1963)
    Centennial Exhibition, Galleries 14 and 15 (February 25, 1956 to March 1, 1957)
    Untitled Exhibition, Ancient Chinese Jade and Bronze (August 26, 1955 to October 25, 1955)
    Untitled Exhibition, Ancient Chinese Art, 1946 (May 7, 1946 to February 25, 1956)
    Untitled Exhibition, Ancient Chinese Art, 1945 (January 9, 1945 to August 20, 1955)
    Untitled Exhibition, Ancient Chinese Art, 1944 (December 13, 1944 to May 7, 1946)
    Untitled Exhibition, Chinese Art, 1944 (November 15, 1944 to May 6, 1946)
    Untitled Exhibition, Ancient Chinese Art, 1943 (March 22, 1943 to November 17, 1944)
    Untitled Exhibition, Chinese Metalwork (March 14, 1931 to March 22, 1943)
  • Previous custodian or owner

    Duanfang 端方 (1861-1911)
    Descendants of Duanfang (20th century)
    You Xiaoxi 游篠溪 (late 19th-early 20th century)
    Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919)
  • Origin

    Probably Henan province, China
  • Culture

    Erlitou culture, ca. 2000-1600 BCE
  • Credit Line

    Gift of Charles Lang Freer
  • Type

    Ceremonial Object
  • On View

    Freer Gallery 19: Afterlife: Ancient Chinese Jades
  • Restrictions and Rights

    Usage Conditions Apply

    There are restrictions for re-using this media. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

    The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The National Museum of Asian Art welcomes information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.

Keep Exploring