Bead in the form of addorsed owls

Historical period(s)
Anyang period, Late Shang dynasty, ca. 1300-ca. 1050 BCE
Medium
Jade (nephrite)
Dimensions
H x W x D (overall): 4.8 x 1.9 x 1.7 cm (1 7/8 x 3/4 x 11/16 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
S2012.9.331
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Jade, Jewelry and Ornament
Type

Bead

Keywords
Anyang period (ca. 1300 - ca. 1050 BCE), carving, China, nephrite, owl, Paul Singer collection
Provenance

As early as 1928
Likely discovered at archeological sites in Anyang, Honan Province, China [1]

To 1948
Naiji Zhang (1899–1948), Shanghai, China then New York, NY [2]

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

1954 to 1958
J. T. Tai & Company, New York, NY likely purchased from Zhang Mei Chien during July 1954 in New York, NY [4]

1958 to 1997
Dr. Paul Singer, Summit, NJ, purchased from J. T. Tai & Company on 8/26/58 in New York, NY [5]

1997 to 1999
In the custody of Arthur M. Sackler Gallery upon the death of Paul Singer in January 1997 and a loan agreement between the Executors of the Singer Estate and the Gallery in February 1997 [6]

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 [7]

Notes:

[1] Object published in Archaic Chinese Jades: Special Exhibition (Philadelphia: The University Museum, February 1940), cat. 280. Catalogue entry notes discovery site. Excavations at Anyang began in 1928.

[2] Naiji Zhang (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 Naiji Zhang 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] Mei Chien Zhang, Naiji Zhang’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).

[4] See note 3. Sales Slip from J. T. Tai & Company to Dr. Paul Singer, 8/26/58, includes an object identified as YT 1177, copy located in acquisition folder, original located in FǀS Archives, Paul Singer Papers, Box 17, and Folder 17. YT-1177 is likely S2012.9.331.

In Paul Singer’s memoirs, he notes 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,” from J. T. Tai & Company. It is likely that S2012.9.331was one of those 17 jades. See: Reminiscences of a Transient Custodian,” ms. Paul Singer Papers, FǀS Archives, p.83-84.

[5] See note 4. 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.

[6] The Dr. Paul Singer Collection of Chinese Art came into the custody of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, upon the death of Paul Singer in January 1997 and the loan agreement between the Executors of the Singer Estate and the Gallery in February 1997.

[7] See “The Dr. Paul Singer Collection of Chinese Art Gift Agreement,” March 1999, provenance files. 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

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