Harvesting knife (hu 笏)

The object is of commanding size. It is trapezoidal in shape. The lower edge is marked by slightly diminished thickness, but it does not become a true cutting edge. The sides too, which are serrated to form flanges, are thinned out leaving the central area as almost a relief panel. Here the decoration, identical on both sides, consists of lines that form alternately straight and crisscross bands. Five conical holes drilled from one side pierce close to the upper edge. The stone is dark green and brown. Condition: old nicks, abrasions on edges; several small rough areas on surface.

Maker(s)
Artist: Erlitou culture 二里頭 (ca. 2000-1600 BCE)
Historical period(s)
Late Neolithic period, ca. 2000-1600 BCE
Medium
Jade (serpentine)
Dimensions
H x W x D: 10.5 x 73.6 x 1.4 cm (4 1/8 x 29 x 9/16 in)
Geography
China, probably Henan province
Credit Line
Gift of Arthur M. Sackler
Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
S1987.449
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Ceremonial Object, Jade
Type

Ceremonial object: harvesting knife (hu)

Keywords
China, Late Neolithic period (ca. 5000 - ca. 1700 BCE), serpentine, WWII-era provenance
Provenance

To 1959
Abel William Bahr (1877-1959), Shanghai, China, London, England, Montreal, Canada, New York, and Ridgefield, Connecticut [1]

From 1963 to 1987
Arthur M. Sackler, New York, purchased from the Bahr Collection in 1963 [2]

From 1987
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, gift of Arthur M. Sackler on September 11, 1987 [3]

Notes:

[1] According to information provided by the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, October 9, 2009.

[2] According to information provided by the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, October 9, 2009.

[3] 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)

Abel William Bahr 1877-1959
Dr. Arthur M. Sackler 1913-1987

Description

The object is of commanding size. It is trapezoidal in shape. The lower edge is marked by slightly diminished thickness, but it does not become a true cutting edge. The sides too, which are serrated to form flanges, are thinned out leaving the central area as almost a relief panel. Here the decoration, identical on both sides, consists of lines that form alternately straight and crisscross bands. Five conical holes drilled from one side pierce close to the upper edge. The stone is dark green and brown. Condition: old nicks, abrasions on edges; several small rough areas on surface.

Published References
  • J. Keith Wilson, Jingmin Zhang. Jades for Life and Death. .
  • Minao Hayashi. Chūgoku kodai no ishibōchōkei gyokki to kotsusenkei gyokki [Two Types of Prehistorical Chinese Ceremonial Jade Objects: Stone Harvesting Knives and Bone Spades]. No. 54, 1982. pl. 13.
  • Minao Hayashi. Chūgoku kogyoku no kenkyū. Tokyo, 1991. pl. 13.
  • Shuping Deng. Ye tan huaxi xitong de yuqi 5: Yi shiyou xianwen de liqi. No. 129 Taipei, 1993. p. 40, fig. 79.
  • et al. Asian Art in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery: The Inaugural Gift. Washington, 1987. cat. 37, p. 81.
  • Zhiqiang Yin. Xiadai yuqi chutan. No. 162 Taipei, 1996. p. 86.
  • 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. 193.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Jades for Life and Death
Google Cultural Institute
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