Ancestor tablet

Handle (one corner chipped) of slightly translucent, dark, gray-green nephrite; the tang pierced for attachment.

Historical period(s)
Middle Shang dynasty, ca. 1400-ca. 1300 BCE
Medium
Jade (nephrite)
Dimensions
H x W x D: 17.9 x 1.6 x 1.1 cm (7 1/16 x 5/8 x 7/16 in)
Geography
China
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1939.31
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Ceremonial Object, Jade
Type

Tablet

Keywords
China, Middle Shang dynasty (ca. 1400 - 1300 BCE), nephrite, WWII-era provenance
Provenance

As early as 1928
Reportedly discovered at archeological sites in Anyang, Honan Province, China [1]

?-1939
Zhang Naiji (1899-1948), Shanghai, China and New York, NY from at least February 1939 [2]

From 1939
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased through C. T. Loo & Company, New York from Zhang Naiji on April 17, 1939 [3]

Notes:

[1] According to information provided by Zhang Naiji to John E. Lodge at the time of acquisition, see J.E. Lodge's note, 1939, in object file. Zhang Naiji stated that he had obtained the jades, selected by the Freer Gallery from a group of about 350 pieces offered for sale (F1939.6-F1939.26 and F1939.28-F1939.33), at the places of their excavation. Lodge commented in his 1939 note: "I see no good reason to doubt [Zhan g's] statement. I have, therefore, specified Shou Chou, or An-yang, or Lo-yang (Chin Ts'un) as the source of a piece in accordance with Mr. Chang's [Zhang's] designations given in my presence and recorded by me." Excavations at Anyang began in 1928.

[2] See note 1. See also "List of objects contemplated for purchase by Freer Gallery of Art," approved on February 1, 1939, Freer Gallery of Art Purchase List file, copy in object file. According to an annotation on the list, the purchase was made from C. T. Loo & Company, New York acting as agent for the owner and the payment was made on April 17, 1939. Zhang Naiji (also known as N.C. Chang) was a businessman, born to a prestigious family in Zhejiang that made their wealth in the silk and salt industries. He collected ancient Chinese art objects and Chinese coins. Zhang amassed his collection whilst living in Shanghai, before leaving for America in 1938. Zhang did not return to China until 1946. While the earliest documentation of Zhang's ownership of the jade dates to February 1939, we know that he acquired the objects in China before his departure.

[3] See "List of objects contemplated for purchase by Freer Gallery of Art," cited in note 2.

Previous Owner(s)

C.T. Loo 1880-1957
Zhang Naiji 1899-1948
C.T. Loo & Company 1914-1948

Description

Handle (one corner chipped) of slightly translucent, dark, gray-green nephrite; the tang pierced for attachment.

Published References
  • Archibald Gibson Wenley. Early Chinese Jade. vol. 63, no. 5 Washington, November 1946. p. 343.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Jades for Life and Death
Google Cultural Institute
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