Historical period(s)
Song dynasty, ca. 10th-13th century
H x W x D: 2.8 x 9.2 x 6 cm (1 1/8 x 3 5/8 x 2 3/8 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Arthur M. Sackler
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Jade, Sculpture


China, goose, Song dynasty (960 - 1279)

From about 1937
Alfred Fiske Pillsbury (1876-1950), Minneapolis, from about 1937 [1]

From at least 1960 to 1968
Desmond Gure (1905-1970), London, from at least June 1960 [2]

From 1968 to 1987
Dr. Arthur M. Sackler, New York, purchased from Desmond Gure on January 10, 1968 [3]

From 1987
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, gift of Arthur M. Sackler on September 11, 1987 [4]


[1] The object was exhibited as a long term loan at the Minneapolis Institute of Art from about 1937 to about 1957, see annotation in Inventory of Desmond Gure’s collection, cited in note 2. In 1939 it was on view in New York, see “3000 Years of Chinese Jade,” exh. cat. (New York: Arden Gallery, January 10 – February 11, 1939), cat. 242 (ill.): “Duck, brown Jade, 3 11/16 in Width, Sung. Collection of Alfred F. Pillsbury, Minneapolis. Courtesy of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.”

[2] Gure lent the jade to “The Arts of the Sung Dynasty,” an exhibition organized by the Oriental Ceramic Society at the Arts Council Gallery in London in 1960 and subsequently to “Celadon: Jade: Finds, Specimen, Scientific Results” at the National Museum in Stockholm in May – June 1963, see The Arts Council of Great Britain and The Oriental Ceramic Society, Loan Exhibition of the Arts of the Sung Dynasty, exh. cat. (London: The Arts Council Gallery, June 16 – July 23, 1960), cat. 279 and Celadon Jade: Finds, Specimen, Scientific Results (Stockholm: The National Museum, May – June 1963), cat. 157. See also an undated, typed inventory of Desmond Gure collection, “List 2 – Objects Exhibited at Stockholm 1963,” no. 195: “A brown jade carving of a goose with its head turned back over its body – 3.11/16 in. long. Early Sung Dynasty or earlier,” copy in object file.

[3] According to information provided by Arthur M. Sackler Foundation in October 2009, Arthur M. Sackler purchased the jade as part of Desmond Gure jade collection on January 10, 1968, see “Arthur M. Sackler Gift: Chinese Jades: Summary,” where the object is listed under Sackler Collection no. J-1321 and identified as S1987.28.

[4] Pursuant to the agreement between Arthur M. Sackler and the Smithsonian Institution, dated July 28, 1982, legal title of the donated objects was transferred to the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery on September 11, 1987.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Alfred Fiske Pillsbury 1876-1950
Desmond Gure 1905-1970
Dr. Arthur M. Sackler 1913-1987


The naturalism and simplicty of this jade pebble suits "scholars' taste," which typically tries to attain a goal of understated elegance and harmony with nature.  The artisan studied a raw piece of jade and took a cue from its shape to decide on the subject matter of a goose.  He demonstrated exceptional skill by creating a convincing sculpture that required relatively little reworking of the stone.  In a gesture of unexpected thoroughness—or humor—the carver completed his image by rendering the goose's webbed feet on the underside of the stone.  The mellow polish of the jade and its size that fits perfectly in a palm hint that it must have been frequently handled by its owners.  When not cupped in a hand, it might have sat on a scholar's table as a paperweight.

Published References
  • Alfred Salmony. 3000 Years of Chinese Jade. Exh. cat. New York, January 10 - February 1, 1939. cat. 242.
  • Bo Gyllensvard. Celadon, Jade: Finds, Specimen, Scientific Results; Exhibition. Exh. cat. Stockholm, May-June 1963. cat. 157.
  • The Arts of the Sung Dynasty. Exh. cat. London, 1959. cat. 279, pl. 96.
  • Les Trois Reves du Mandarin. Exh. cat. Brussels. cat. 39, p. 52.
  • Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society, 1959-60. London. Cat. 279, p. 53, Plate 96.
  • Jessica Rawson, John Ayers. Chinese Jade Throughout the Ages: An Exhibit. Exh. cat. London. cat. 244, p. 82.
  • et al. Asian Art in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery: The Inaugural Gift. Washington, 1987. cat. 78, p. 123.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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