Dagger-axe (ge 戈)

The cream-white jade blade has an indistinct crest and edges beveled continuously to the tip. The blade is sharpened toward the asymmetrically placed point. It is fitted into the rectangular socket or tang that has a perforation between the vertical bar and rectangular butt. The bronze haft was probably inlaid with turquoise. Now the lug and the haft (or the socket and the butt) show taotie mask decor executed in cloisonné, which give the impression of sunken relief. There also is evidence on the bronze haft of textile wrapping now carbonized. (Earthy deposits; heavy green patina and incrustations on the bronze haft; blade separated from haft; chips on haft.)

Historical period(s)
Anyang period, Late Shang dynasty, ca. 1300-ca. 1050 BCE
Medium
Bronze with turquoise inlay and jade (nephrite) blade
Dimensions
H x W x D (overall): 7.4 × 21.8 × 1.3 cm (2 15/16 × 8 9/16 × 1/2 in)
Geography
China, probably Henan province, Anyang
Credit Line
Gift of Arthur M. Sackler
Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
S1987.898
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Ceremonial Object, Metalwork
Type

Ceremonial object: dagger-axe (ge)

Keywords
Anyang period (ca. 1300 - ca. 1050 BCE), China, inlay, nephrite, WWII-era provenance
Provenance

As early as 1928
Likely discovered at archeological sites in Anyang, Honan 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 around 1954 to 1961
C. T. Loo Chinese Art, New York, NY likely purchased from Zhang Mei Chien in New York, NY [4]

Possibly from 1961 to 1964
Frank Caro Chinese Art, New York, NY, mode of acquisition unknown [5]

Possibly from around 1954 to 1960s
J. T. Tai & Company, New York, NY possibly purchased from Zhang Mei Chien in New York, NY [6]

To 1987
Arthur M. Sackler, New York, purchased from either Frank Caro Chinese Art or J. T. Tai & Company in New York, NY [6]

From 1987
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, gift of Arthur M. Sackler on September 11, 1987 [7]

Notes:

[1] Object published in Archaic Chinese Jades: Special Exhibition (Philadelphia: The University Museum, February 1940), cat. 49. Catalogue entry notes discovery site. Excavations at Anyang began in 1928.

[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 & Company 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). It is unclear when C. T. Loo Chinese Art purchased items from Zhang Mei Chien.

[4] On September 1, 1952, C. T. Loo’s associate, Frank Caro (1904-1980) took over daily operations of C. T. Loo & Company, New York, operating as C. T. Loo Chinese Art. Loo continued to play a large role in the business, as he and Caro struck a deal in which profits made on Loo’s stock would be evenly divided and Loo would maintain the lease and rental payments on the company’s gallery space.

[5] In 1961, Loo and Caro’s agreement ended. C. T. Loo & Cie., Paris, France took control of C. T. Loo Chinese Art, New York’s stock that C. T. Loo had added to the inventory before his death in 1957. Frank Caro then opened Frank Caro Chinese Art. Caro acquired pieces from Loo’s original stock (the mode of acquisition is unknown). Frank Caro acquired several ancient jades from C. T. Loo Chinese Art and sold them to Dr. Sackler in the 1960s (for example, see: S1987.668 and S1987.644).

[6] In July 1964, Mrs. Zhang sold several pieces of her husband’s jade collection to J. T. Tai & Company. J. T. Tai & Company sold several of these jades to Arthur M. Sackler (for example, see: S1987.573, S1987.653, and S1987.607).

[7] This object was inventoried by conservators of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in 1986. It was part of Arthur M. Sackler’s foundational 1987 gift to the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.

[8] 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)

Zhang Naiji 1899-1948
Zhang Mei Chien 1900-1998
Dr. Arthur M. Sackler 1913-1987
C.T. Loo & Company 1914-1948
C.T. Loo Chinese Art 1953 - 1961
Frank Caro Chinese Art 1962-1980

Description

The cream-white jade blade has an indistinct crest and edges beveled continuously to the tip. The blade is sharpened toward the asymmetrically placed point. It is fitted into the rectangular socket or tang that has a perforation between the vertical bar and rectangular butt. The bronze haft was probably inlaid with turquoise. Now the lug and the haft (or the socket and the butt) show taotie mask decor executed in cloisonné, which give the impression of sunken relief. There also is evidence on the bronze haft of textile wrapping now carbonized. (Earthy deposits; heavy green patina and incrustations on the bronze haft; blade separated from haft; chips on haft.)

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