Archer’s thumbring (ban zhi)

Historical period(s)
Eastern Zhou dynasty, ca. 300-200 BCE
H x W x D: 4.1 x 2.7 x 1.2 cm (1 5/8 x 1 1/16 x 1/2 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Arthur M. Sackler
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Jade, Jewelry and Ornament

Archer's thumbring

archery, bow, carving, China, Eastern Zhou dynasty (770 - 221 BCE), WWII-era provenance

1931 to 1932
Likely discovered in tomb located in Shouxian, Anhwei Province, China [1]
To 1948
Zhang Naiji (1899–1948), Shanghai, China then New York, NY [2]

1948 to around 1954
Zhang Mei Chien (1901–c.1955), New York, NY inherited upon her husband’s death [3]

Possibly as late as 1959
C.T. Loo Chinese Art, New York, NY possibly purchased from ZHANG Mei Chien in New York, NY [4]

Possibly as late as 1959
J.T. Tai & Company, New York, NY possibly purchased from ZHANG Mei Chien in New York, NY [5]

To 1959
Abel William Bahr (1877–1959), Shanghai, China, London, England, Montreal, Canada, New York, NY, and Ridgefield, CT purchased from either C. T. Loo & Company, Frank Caro Chinese Art, or J. T. Tai & Company in New York during the 1950s [6]

1959 to 1963
Edna H. Bahr (1907–1986), Esher, Surrey, England inherited her father’s jade collection upon his death on March 2, 1959 [7]

1963 to 1987
Arthur M. Sackler, New York, NY purchased from Edna H. Bahr, sale finalized on September 11, 1963 [8]

From 1987
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, gift of Arthur M. Sackler on September 11, 1987 [9]


[1] Object published in Archaic Chinese Jades: Special Exhibition (Philadelphia: The University Museum, February 1940), cat. 70. Catalogue entry notes discovery site as Shou-hsien (now known as Shouxian), where tombs were exposed between 1931 and 1932. During this period the tombs were never properly excavated.

[2] Zhang Naiji (also known as N. C. Chang) was a businessman, born to a prestigious family in Zhejiang that made their wealth in the silk and salt industries. He collected ancient Chinese art objects and Chinese coins. Zhang amassed his collection whilst living in Shanghai, before leaving for America in 1938, and acquired his objects onsite of archeological excavations (see: Alfred Salmony, Chinese Jade through the Wei Dynasty. New York: The Ronald Press Company, 1963: 115.).

Zhang lent his collection anonymously to Archaic Chinese Jades: Special Exhibition. We know his identity through letters housed in the Department of Archives, The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (see: letter, C.T. Loo to Horace Jayne, 25 October 1939 and letter, from C.T. Loo to Horace Jayne, 16 December 1939), copies in FǀS COM provenance files. The exhibition was entirely organized by C. T. Loo & Company, New York. Letters exchanged between C.T. Loo and the director of The University Museum, Mr. Horace H.F. Jayne, reveal that Zhang Naiji owned the objects and C. T. Loo & Company had the collection on consignment (see: letter, from C.T. Loo to Horace Jayne, 28 May 1939 and letter, from C.T. Loo to Horace Jayne, 23 October 1940, copies on COM provenance files). C.T. Loo & Company kept the jade collection on consignment from 1940 through Zhang’s death in 1948, inventorying the pieces with a prefix “J” and labeling each item as “Chang Collection.”

[3] ZHANG Mei Chien, Zhang Naiji’s wife, assumed ownership upon his death in 1948. She sold several pieces from her husband’s collection to both C.T. Loo Chinese Art (see note 4) and J. T. Tai & Company. She sold to J. T. Tai & Company in July 1954 (for example, see J.T. Tai & Company Stock Record YT 886 and YT 895, copies in COM provenance files).

[4] See note 3.

[5] See note 3.

[6] Abel William (Billy) Bahr was a coal merchant in Shanghai, who later lived in England, Canada, and the United States. He and his brother, Peter Johannes Bahr (c.1882-1928), were also dealers in Chinese art, supplying a series of collectors and museums internationally. A.W. Bahr built up a significant private art collection.

See itemized list of objects from Bahr collection, #304: “Pendant ring. – grey-tan Chou 1 3/4, brocade box”. List documents jades in the A. W. Bahr collection, offered to Dr. Arthur M. Sackler, information provided by the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, October 9, 2009, copy located in object file and full copy located in FǀS COM provenance files.

[7] A. W. Bahr’s daughter, Edna H. Bahr inherited the collection of jades from her father. She, with the support of the law firm Millard & Greene of New York, NY, managed the sale of the collection. See: letter to Miss Edna H. Bahr from Arthur M. Sackler, August 17, 1962 and letter from Law Offices of Millard & Greene to Dr. Arthur M. Sackler, December 24, 1962, copies in F|S COM provenance files.

[8] Arthur M. Sackler assumed ownership of the collection on September 21, 1963 (see letter to Dr. Arthur M. Sackler from Myron J. Greene of Law Offices of Millard & Green, copy in F|S COM provenance files.

[9] 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)

Edna H. Bahr died 1978
Abel William Bahr 1877-1959
Zhang Naiji 1899-1948
Zhang Mei Chien 1900-1998
Dr. Arthur M. Sackler 1913-1987
C.T. Loo & Company 1914-1948
J.T. Tai & Co. established in 1950

Published References
  • (Introduction) Horace Jayne. Archaic Chinese Jades. Exh. cat. Philadelphia, PA, February 1940. #70.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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