Dagger-axe (ge 戈)

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): 5.3 × 18.7 × 1.2 cm (2 1/16 × 7 3/8 × 1/2 in)
Geography
China, probably Henan province, Anyang
Credit Line
The Dr. Paul Singer Collection of Chinese Art of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; a joint gift of the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, Paul Singer, the AMS Foundation for the Arts, Sciences, and Humanities, and the Children of Arthur M. Sackler
Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
S2012.9.278
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, Paul Singer collection
Provenance

As early as 1928
Likely found after the discovery of archeological sites in Anyang, Honan Province, China [1]

To 1948
Naiji Zhang 1899–1948), Shanghai, China then New York, NY [2]
1948 to early 1950s
Mei Chien Zhang (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 possibly purchased from Zhang Mei Chien in New York, NY in the early 1950s [4]

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

Possibly to late 1950s
J. T. Tai & Company, New York, NY possibly purchased from Zhang Mei Chien in New York, NY during July 1954 [6]

To 1997
Dr. Paul Singer, Summit, NJ purchased from J. T. Tai & Company, C. T. Loo & Company, or Frank Caro Chinese Art in New York, NY [7]

1997 to 1999
In the custody of Arthur M. Sackler Gallery upon death of Paul Singer in 1/1997 and loan agreement in 2/1997 [8]

From 1999
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, gift of the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, Paul Singer, the AMS Foundation for the Arts, Sciences, and Humanities, and the Children of Arthur M. Sackler [9]

Notes:

[1] Object published in Archaic Chinese Jades: Special Exhibition (Philadelphia: The University Museum, February 1940), cat. 50. 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 (which later operated as Frank Caro Chinese Art) 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. C. T. Loo Chinese Art was led by Frank Caro, the famed dealer C. T. Loo’s associate.

[4] See note 3. On September 1, 1952, C. T. Loo’s associate, Frank Caro (1904-1980) took over daily operations of the New York business, operating at 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) and also featured jades with a Zhang provenance in his stock.

[6] See note 3. J. T. Tai & Company sold several jades with Zhang provenance to Dr. Paul Singer. In Paul Singer’s memoirs, he reports that he acquired 17 “of the Chiang Nai-chi jades, some of which Mr. Chang lent to the 1935-1936 International Exhibition of Chinese Art,” through J. T. Tai & Company. It is likely that S2012.9.278 was one of those 17 jades. See: Reminiscences of a Transient Custodian,” ms. Paul Singer Papers, FǀS Archives, p.83-84.

[7] Dr. Paul Singer had this object in his collection in the 1980s, when writing his memoirs (see note 5). The collection of Chinese art and antiquities assembled by Paul Singer over time was purchased by him on behalf of Arthur M. Sackler, Jillian Sackler, The Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, the AMS Foundation for the Arts, Sciences, and Humanities and was later transferred to the children of Arthur M. Sackler.

[8] The Dr. Paul Singer Collection of Chinese Art came into the custody of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, upon Paul Singer’s death in 1/1997 and a loan agreement in 2/1997

[9] See “The Dr. Paul Singer Collection of Chinese Art Gift Agreement,” March 1999, FǀS COM Office. The object was formally accessioned into the museum collection in 2012.

Previous Owner(s)

Zhang Naiji 1899-1948
Zhang Mei Chien 1900-1998
Dr. Paul Singer 1904-1997
C.T. Loo & Company 1914-1948
J.T. Tai & Co. established in 1950
C.T. Loo Chinese Art 1953 - 1961
Frank Caro Chinese Art 1962-1980

Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Jades for Life and Death
Google Cultural Institute
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

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