Axe (yue 鉞), made from a collared disk

Flanged pierced pi [bi] 璧 disk with lateral serrations arranged on either side of the central orifice. Buff colored with some darker mottling. The lower edge is ground to a blunt cutting edge.

Historical period(s)
Anyang period, Late Shang dynasty, ca. 1300-ca. 1050 BCE
Medium
Jade (nephrite)
Dimensions
H x W x D: 19.8 x 20 x 0.8 cm (7 13/16 x 7 7/8 x 5/16 in) Diam (opening): 6.2 cm (2 7/16 in)
Geography
China, probably Henan province, Anyang
Credit Line
Gift of Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1970.39
On View Location
Freer Gallery 19: Afterlife: Ancient Chinese Jades
Classification(s)
Ceremonial Object, Jade
Type

Ceremonial object: axe

Keywords
Anyang period (ca. 1300 - ca. 1050 BCE), China, nephrite, WWII-era provenance
Provenance

Duanfang (1861-1911) [1]

From at least 1969 to 1970
Eugene Meyer (1875-1959) and Agnes E. Meyer (1887-1970), Washington, DC, and Mt. Kisco, NY [2]

From 1970
Freer Gallery of Art, bequeathed by Agnes E. Meyer, 1970 [3]

Notes:

[1] The jade is included in Duanfang’s catalogue of his jade collection, published posthumously in 1936 with a preface by Wang Dalong, see Duanfang, Taozhai gu yu tu, vol. 1 (Shanghai, 1936), p. 1:3a. Duanfang was a late Qing government official and a well known collector of Chinese art. See also Thomas Lawton, A Time of Transition: Two Collectors of Chinese Art (Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, 1991), pp. 37-39, fig. 37. An inscription on the box with which the jade was acquired reads: “Zhou, gu bi, Tao zhai zhen cang"; a reference to the Taozhai, Duanfang’s studio provides another indication that the jade was in Duanfang’s collection.

[2] The object is included in Agnes E. Meyer’s will and testament dated December 23, 1969, copy in object file.

[3] See Agnes E. Meyer’s will and testament cited in note 2.

Previous Owner(s)

Duanfang 1861-1911
Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer (1875-1959) and (1887-1970)

Description

Flanged pierced pi [bi] 璧 disk with lateral serrations arranged on either side of the central orifice. Buff colored with some darker mottling. The lower edge is ground to a blunt cutting edge.

Published References
  • Thomas Lawton. Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Memorial Exhibition. Exh. cat. Washington, 1971. cat. 2, pp. 4-5.
  • Julia Murray. A Decade of Discovery: Selected Acquisitions 1970-1980. Exh. cat. Washington, 1979. cat. 5, p. 15.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Jades for Life and Death
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