Ornament (shi 飾) with face and masks

An ornament of reddish nephrite shading to gray green; somewhat translucent; one surface decorated with low relief mostly linear; four holes for attachment.

Artist: Shijiahe culture 石家河 (ca. 2500 - ca. 2000 BCE)
Historical period(s)
Late Neolithic period, ca. 2500 - 2000 BCE
Jade (nephrite)
H x W x D: 7.3 × 3.2 × 0.6 cm (2 7/8 × 1 1/4 × 1/4 in)
China, Middle Yangzi valley, Hubei Province
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Accession Number
On View Location
Freer Gallery 19: Afterlife: Ancient Chinese Jades
Jade, Jewelry and Ornament


carving, China, face, gui, Late Neolithic period (ca. 5000 - ca. 1700 BCE), mask, nephrite, WWII-era provenance

Wu collection, Tianjin [1]

From at least 1937 to 1939
C.T. Loo & Company, Paris and New York from at least March 1937 [2]

From 1939
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from C.T. Loo & Company on November 30, 1939 [3]


[1] According to information in C. T. Loo's Approval memorandum, dated November 6, 1939, in object file.

[2] See C. T. Loo's stockcard no. LAP 5655: "Brownish jade in the form of a thin pillar, head etched in center. Han," Frank Caro Archive, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, copy in object file. According to information on the stockcard, the object was shipped to Paris in March 1937 and returned to New York in November 1938; in September 1939 it was offered to Mr. McKim; on November 6, 1939 it was shipped to the Freer Gallery.

[3] See C. T. Loo's invoice, dated November 30, 1939, copy in object file.

Previous Owner(s)

Wu Collection
C.T. Loo & Company active 1915-1962


An ornament of reddish nephrite shading to gray green; somewhat translucent; one surface decorated with low relief mostly linear; four holes for attachment.


Exceptional workmanship defines this human face wearing a twisted rope or fabric headband. His long hair ends in upturned curls, and circular earrings hang from his ears. Four sets of tiny drilled holes presumably were used to fasten this ornament to fabric. Creating those holes required precise control and tiny drill points, a noteworthy achievement of the Shijiahe culture.

Published References
  • Na Chih-liang. Yu ch'i tz'u t'ien (Dictionary of Chinese Jade). Taipei, 1982. vol. 2, p. 37.
  • Alfred Salmony. Carved Jade of Ancient China. Berkeley, 1938. pl. 32, no. 6.
  • Hayashi Minao. Sen Inshiki no gyokki bunka: Patterns on pre-Yin jades. no. 334 Tokyo, January 1979. p. 5, fig. 7.
  • Shuping Deng. Tianming xuanniao, jianger shengshang: guyu huawen suo fanying de gudai xinyang. No. 42 Taipei, 1986. p. 24, fig. 19.
  • Doris J. Dohrenwend. Jade Demonic Images from Early China. vol. 10 Washington and Ann Arbor, 1975. pp. 55-78, pl. 8, fig. 24.
  • Wu Hung. "一组早期的玉石雕刻." I'tsu tsao-ch'i ti yu-shig tiao-k'o (A Group of Early Jade and Stone Carvings)., 1979. p. 69, fig. 2.
  • Carl Hentze. Die Sakralbronzen und ihre Bedeutung in den fruehchinsesischen Kulturen. Antwerp, 1941. pp. 119, 181, pl. 78-152.
  • Elizabeth Childs-Johnson Fang Gu. Yuqi shidai: Meiguo bowuguan cang Zhongguo zaoqi yuqi (The Jade Age: Early Chinese Jades in American Museums). Beijing, 2009. p. 152.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Jades for Life and Death
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum

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