Dagger-axe (ge 戈)

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.

Maker(s)
Artist: Erlitou culture 二里頭 (ca. 2000-1600 BCE)
Historical period(s)
Erlitou culture or early Shang dynasty, ca. 2000-ca. 1400 BCE
Medium
Jade (nephrite)
Dimensions
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)
Geography
China, Probably Henan province
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1917.396.1
On View Location
Freer Gallery 19: Afterlife: Ancient Chinese Jades
Classification(s)
Ceremonial Object, Jade
Type

Ceremonial object: dagger-axe (ge)

Keywords
China, Erligang period (ca. 1500 - ca. 1300 BCE), nephrite
Provenance

1903
Reportedly unearthed at Qishan 岐山, Fengxiang xian 鳳翔縣, Shaanxi 陝西 Province; said to be from the grave of the first Duke of Shao (Shao gong 召公 ), Shi 奭, the Taibao 太保 [1]

To 1911
Duanfang (1861-1911), Beijing, China [2]

1911-1917
Descendants of Duanfang, Beijing, China inherited upon Duanfang's death [3]

1917
You Xiaoxi 游篠溪 (late 19th century -- mid-20th century), Shanghai, purchased from Duangfang's family [4]

1917-1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Seaouke Yue [5]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [4]

Notes:

[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] 端方 (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] 鳳翔府 in Shensi [Shaanxi] 陝西 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.

Previous Owner(s)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Duanfang 1861-1911
You Xiaoxi late 19th-early 20th century
Descendants of Duanfang 20th century

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.

Published References
  • Sueji Umehara. Shina kodai no doriki ni tsuite [Concerning bronze implements of ancient China]. Kyoto. pl. 14, fig. 5.
  • Joan Hartman-Goldsmith. Early Chinese Jades at the Freer Gallery. vol. 27, no. 4, Winter 1981-1982. fig. 1.
  • Geoffrey WIlls. Jade of the East., 1st ed. New York, 1972. fig. 30.
  • Sueji Umehara. Shina kokogaku ronko [Studies in Chinese Archaeology]. Showa 13 Tokyo, 1938-1940. pl. 18, no. 5.
  • Sueji Umehara. Shina kogyoku zuroku [Selected Specimens of Chinese Archaic Jade]. Kyoto, 1955. pl. 33.
  • Osvald Siren. Kinas Konst Under Tre Artusenden. 2 vols., Stockholm, 1942-1943. vol. 1: p. 124, fig. 80.
  • Alfred Salmony. Carved Jade of Ancient China. Berkeley, 1938. pl. 5, no. 3.
  • Richard Gump. Jade: Stone of Heaven., 1st ed. Garden City, 1962. p. 32.
  • Dr. Berthold Laufer. Jade: A Study in Chinese Archaeology and Religion. Anthropological series, vol. 10 Chicago. pp. 40-41, pl. 9.
  • Agnes E. Meyer. The Charles L. Freer Collection. vol. 12, no. 2 Brooklyn, August 1927. p. 65.
  • Thomas Lawton, Linda Merrill. Freer: a legacy of art. Washington and New York, 1993. p. 206, fig. 141.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Jades for Life and Death
Google Cultural Institute
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