Dagger-axe (ge 戈), fragment reworked

Ceremonial weapon: blade. Opaque, buff colored surface with white and dark brown mottling over a large portion of both sides. The blade is flat, with a conical perforation between the shoulders and on each of the two projections at the top of the blade. The edges of the two projections and the space between them are decorated with evenly placed serrations. The square ended tang is narrower than the blade itself. Three edges of the blade are beveled. On the top half of the blade and on the tang, there is an incised pattern of parallel straight lines. In the narrow area between the two projections at the top of the blade, the incised lines cross each other. An accretion of reddish colored substance on the surface of the blade resembles cinnabar.

Historical period(s)
Warring States period, Erlitou culture or early Shang dynasty, ca. 2000-ca. 1400 BCE
Medium
Jade (nephrite)
Dimensions
H x W x D: 11 x 27.8 x 0.5 cm (4 3/8 x 10 15/16 x 3/16 in)
Geography
China, probably Henan province
Credit Line
Transfer from the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution
Accession Number
F1978.31
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Ceremonial Object, Jade
Type

Ceremonial object

Keywords
China, Erlitou period (ca. 2000 - 1600 BCE), Shang dynasty (ca. 1600 - ca. 1050 BCE), WWII-era provenance
Provenance

From at least 1940 to 1942
C. T. Loo & Co., New York, from at least October 1940 [1]

From 1942 to 1951
Eduard von der Heydt (1882-1964), Ascona, Switzerland, purchased from C. T. Loo on August 27, 1942 and lent to the Buffalo Museum of Science, Buffalo, New York [2]

1951
US Government vested Eduard von der Heydt's property under the provisions of "Trading with the Enemy Act" by vesting order, dated August 21, 1951 [3]

From 1964 to 1973
National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, from March 1964 [4]

From 1973
Freer Gallery of Art, transferred from National Museum of Natural History in 1973 [5]

Notes:

[1] See C. T. Loo's stockcard no. 86945: "Jade knife. Decayed chicken bone jade knife, symbol of power with incised designs of lines. Shang," Frank Caro Archive, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, copy in object file. According to an annotation on the stockcard, the jade was acquired for Loo by Mr. Chow in October 1940.

[2] See Loo's stockcard cited in note 1. The jade was sent to Buffalo Museum of Science on July 30, 1942. See also "Catalogue of the Von der Heydt Loan to the Buffalo Museum of Science: Loan Material from Baron Von der Heydt, as of March 1949," where the jade is documented under an inventory card no. 42136, copy in object file. According to the inventory card, the jade was acquired from Loo on September 14, 1942.

[3] See Vesting Order No. 18344, August 21, 1951, Office of Alien Property, Department of Justice. Eduard von der Heydt exhausted all the legal remedies against the forfeiture of his property provided to him by the Trading with the Enemy Act.

[4] Attorney General, Robert Kennedy authorized transfer of the von der Heydt collection from Buffalo Museum of Science to the custody of the Smithsonian Institution in March 1964. The collection was transferred to the National Museum of Natural History. In 1966 US Congress legislated transferring the title of the von der Heydt collection to the Smithsonian Institution, see Public Law 89-503, 80 Stat. 287, July 18, 1966. The jade was accessioned under no. 448078, see "Smithsonian Office of Anthropology Accession Data," copy in object file.

[5] The jade was among 13 objects in the von der Heydt collection transferred from National Museum of Natural History to the Freer Gallery of Art, see "Smithsonian Institution Intramural Transfer of Specimens" memorandum, dated January 29, 1973, copy in object file. The jade was accessioned to the Freer Gallery Study Collection under no. FSC-S-8 and subsequently transferred to the permanent collection in August 1978.

Previous Owner(s)

National Museum of Natural History, Department of Anthropology, Smithsonian Institution
Baron Eduard von der Heydt 1882-1964
C.T. Loo & Company active 1908-1950

Description

Ceremonial weapon: blade. Opaque, buff colored surface with white and dark brown mottling over a large portion of both sides. The blade is flat, with a conical perforation between the shoulders and on each of the two projections at the top of the blade. The edges of the two projections and the space between them are decorated with evenly placed serrations. The square ended tang is narrower than the blade itself. Three edges of the blade are beveled. On the top half of the blade and on the tang, there is an incised pattern of parallel straight lines. In the narrow area between the two projections at the top of the blade, the incised lines cross each other. An accretion of reddish colored substance on the surface of the blade resembles cinnabar.

Published References
  • An Exhibition of Chinese Art. Exh. cat. New York, November 1, 1941-April 20, 1942. cat. 234.
  • Otto Kümmel. Chinesische Kunst. vol. XVIII. .
  • Julia Murray. A Decade of Discovery: Selected Acquisitions 1970-1980. Exh. cat. Washington, 1979. cat. 4, p. 14.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Jades for Life and Death
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum