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Gallery Text

The Shang refined Neolithic jade-making practices, fashioning ritual blades and implements of even greater sophistication than those of their predecessors, incorporating jade blades into turquoise-inlaid bronze hafts, and expanding their jade repertoire into representational shapes of humans and animals.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
1943.50.115
Title
Ceremonial Shafted Jade Axe with Fragmentary Blade
Classification
Riding Equipment
Work Type
stirrup
Date
16th-11th century BCE
Places
Creation Place: East Asia, China
Period
Shang dynasty, c. 1600-c. 1050 BCE
Culture
Chinese
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/205044
Location
Level 1, Room 1740, Early Chinese Art, Arts of Ancient China from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Opaque bluish-green nephrite with fine black veins and light brown markings
Dimensions
L. 56.2 x W. 3.7 x Thickness 1 cm (22 1/8 x 1 7/16 x 3/8 in.)
Weight 546 g
Provenance
[Yamanaka & Co., New York, March 12, 1918] sold; to Grenville L. Winthrop, New York (1918-1943), bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1943.
Published Text
Catalogue
Ancient Chinese Jades from the Grenville L. Winthrop Collection in the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University
Authors
Max Loehr and Louisa G. Fitzgerald Huber
Publisher
Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1975)

Catalogue entry no. 195 by Max Loehr:

195 Ceremonial Shafted Axe with Fragmentary Blade
Opaque bluish green stone with fine black veins and light brown markings. The shaft has a slender, slightly curved-back from whose sweep is accentuated at the top by a double-pronged, backward extension; below, a handle with an oblique guard and finial continues along the axis of the shaft. The cross-section of the shaft is rectangular. Of the blade, only a short fragment remains. Both its upper and forward edges are disfigured by fracture and regrinding, while the lower edge with its stepped base seems to have retained its original form. Apparently the blade was thin; whether it was pointed (like a ko) or broad-edged (like a yüeh) can no longer be determined.

The most remarkable feature of this unique ceremonial weapon is the sophisticated design of the prongs and spurs of the projection at the top, and an analogous spur below the blade. This object has been regarded erroneously as a sword, as a sabre, or as a knife; its shape flatly contradicts such classifications. Early Western Chou(?).

Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop
Accession Year
1943
Object Number
1943.50.115
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Publication History

Martha Davidson, "Chinese Jade: 3000 Years of Chinese Master Craftsmanship", ARTnews Annual (1938), vol. XXXVI, p. 121

Alfred Salmony, Carved Jade of Ancient China, Gillick Press (Berkeley, CA, 1938), pl. 7: 5

Sueji Umehara, ed., Shina kogyoku zuroku (Selected Specimens of Chinese Archaic Jade), Kuwana Bunseido (Kyoto, Japan, 1955 (Shôwa 30)), pl. 38

Na Chih-liang, Yu-ch'i t'ung-shih (General history of Chinese jade), Unidentified Publisher (Hong Kong and Taipei, 1963), pl. 77: 102

Dorothy W. Gillerman, ed., Grenville L. Winthrop: Retrospective for a Collector, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, 1969), no. 013, pp. 12-13, repr.

Max Loehr and Louisa G. Fitzgerald Huber, Ancient Chinese Jades from the Grenville L. Winthrop Collection in the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1975), cat. no. 195, p. 154

Exhibition History

S427: Ancient Chinese Bronzes and Jades, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 10/20/1985 - 04/30/2008

Re-View: S228-230 Arts of Asia, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 05/31/2008 - 06/01/2013

32Q: 1740 Early China I, Harvard Art Museums, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu