Dagger-axe (ge 戈), fragment, reworked

This highly polished jade ge 戈, or dagger-axe, has a straight blade and symmetrical tip. There are projections on the top and bottom edges of the dagger-axe coinciding with the small circular perforation that interrupts the pronounced median crest, which extends from the tip of the blade to the butt end of the tang. The projection on the top of the blade is notched in the center and at the butt end. The projections on the lower edge of the blade are more elaborate. A curving form extends downward to define a vertical edge, or hu 胡, of the type commonly seen on bronze ge 戈. More intricate is the projection that descends from the butt end of the dagger-axe. A small curvilinear element at the edge of the blade is repeated below. Incised lines reinforce the contours of this projection. The lower curvilinear element is perforated. A larger circle that resembles an incomplete perforation appears on the lower portion of the butt end of the tang. (Largely calcified, with powdery area on handle butt, front; minute nicks in pointed edge; cinnabar and soil adhering.)

Maker(s)
Artist: Erlitou culture 二里頭 (ca. 2000-1600 BCE)
Historical period(s)
Erlitou culture or early Shang dynasty; reworked in modern times, ca. 2000-ca. 1400 BCE
Medium
Jade (nephrite)
Dimensions
H x W x D: 14.3 x 5.3 x 0.6 cm (5 5/8 x 2 1/16 x 1/4 in)
Geography
China
Credit Line
Gift of Arthur M. Sackler
Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
S1987.871
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Jade, Jewelry and Ornament
Type

Ceremonial object: dagger-axe (ge)

Keywords
carving, China, Erligang period (ca. 1500 - ca. 1300 BCE), nephrite, WWII-era provenance
Provenance

From at least 1935
Mrs. Christian R. Holmes (1871-1941), New York and "The Chimneys," Sands Point, Port Washington, Long Island, from November 1935 [1]

From at least 1959
Tonying & Company, New York, from at least 1959 [2]

From 1959 to 1987
Dr. Arthur M. Sackler (1913-1987), New York, purchased from Tonying and Company on November 25, 1959 [3]

From 1987
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, gift of Dr. Arthur M. Sackler on September 11, 1987 [4]

Notes:

[1] Mrs. Holmes lent the object to the International Exhibition of Chinese Art at Royal Academy of Fine Arts in London in 1935-36, see Catalogue of the International Exhibition of Chinese Art, exh. cat. (London: Royal Academy of Arts, 1935-36), cat. 310 (ill.).

[2] See Tonying & Company’s invoice, issued to Arthur M. Sackler, dated November 25, 1959, in which the jade is listed under no. Jo. 42: “Archaic Jade Chaag (Symbol of Authority) / Shang” copy in object file, provided by Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, October 2009.

[3] See Tonying & Company’s invoice cited in note 2.

[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)

Tonying and Company
Mrs. Christian R. Holmes 1871-1941
Dr. Arthur M. Sackler 1913-1987

Description

This highly polished jade ge 戈, or dagger-axe, has a straight blade and symmetrical tip. There are projections on the top and bottom edges of the dagger-axe coinciding with the small circular perforation that interrupts the pronounced median crest, which extends from the tip of the blade to the butt end of the tang. The projection on the top of the blade is notched in the center and at the butt end. The projections on the lower edge of the blade are more elaborate. A curving form extends downward to define a vertical edge, or hu 胡, of the type commonly seen on bronze ge 戈. More intricate is the projection that descends from the butt end of the dagger-axe. A small curvilinear element at the edge of the blade is repeated below. Incised lines reinforce the contours of this projection. The lower curvilinear element is perforated. A larger circle that resembles an incomplete perforation appears on the lower portion of the butt end of the tang. (Largely calcified, with powdery area on handle butt, front; minute nicks in pointed edge; cinnabar and soil adhering.)

Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Jades for Life and Death
Google Cultural Institute
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