Straight chisel (gui 圭)

citation

Ceremonial implement; chisel shaped object of the type kuei [gui] 圭; long slender form with beveled end and conical perforation; dark olive green with tan specklings; satin smooth surface.

Acquired with a box, now lost.

Historical period(s)
Late Neolithic period, ca. 5000-ca. 1700 BCE
Medium
Jade (nephrite)
Dimensions
H x W x D: 18.3 x 4.3 x 0.9 cm (7 3/16 x 1 11/16 x 3/8 in)
Geography
Northwest China
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Accession Number
F1917.31
On View Location
Currently not on view
Type

Ceremonial object

Provenance

To 1917
Lee Van Ching (late 19th-early 20th century), Shanghai, to 1917 [1]

From 1917 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Lee Van Ching, in New York, in 1917 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]

Notes:

[1] See Original Miscellaneous List, S.I. 1120, pg. 250, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. See also, Voucher no. 12, January 1917.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Description

Ceremonial implement; chisel shaped object of the type kuei [gui] 圭; long slender form with beveled end and conical perforation; dark olive green with tan specklings; satin smooth surface.

Acquired with a box, now lost.

Label

1. Bought from Lee Van Ching [Li Wenqing] 李文卿, of Shanghai 上海. For price, see Original Miscellaneous List, p. 250. $100.
2. (Undated Folder Sheet note) Original attribution: Chinese. Before San Tai [Sandai] 三代.
3. (Undated Folder Sheet note) Sp. G. is 2.966. Nephrite.
4. (Isabel Ingram Mayer, 1945) Chou [Zhou] 周 dynasty.
5. (H. Elise Buckman, 1964) The Envelope File contained no further information, and has now been destroyed.
6. (Thomas Lawton, 1978) Western Chou [Zhou] 周.
7. (Julia K. Murray, September 1980) Exhibition Ancient Chinese Jade label text; moved to label field.
8. (Julia K. Murray, 1982) Chisel shaped jades, which are included in the general category of tablets called kuei [gui] 圭, first occur in Neolithic sites (see for example the chisel found at Ta ch'eng shan [Dachengshan] 大城山, T'ang shan [Tangshan] 唐山 in Hopei [Hebei] 河北 province; reproduced in Ho-pei sheng po-wu-kuan [Hebei sheng bowuguan] 河北省博物館, Ho pei sheng ch'u t'u wen wu hsuan chi [Hebei sheng chutu wenwu xuanji] 河北省出土文物選集 (Beijing: Wenwu chubanshe, 1980), monochrome pl. 6:15. In Neolithic times, jade chisels were far outnumbered by chisel shaped tools made of ordinary stone, which are frequently found in burials. During the Bronze Age, jade replicas of various types of Neolithic stone tools continued to be made and evidently had symbolical or ceremonial functions. However, their shapes tended to become less like those of the original prototype tools (chisels, axes, adzes, knives, hoes, etc.) and more like each other, giving rise to the collective term kuei [gui] 圭, to designate tablet like jades in general.
In the Freer collection, the following jades may be considered to derive from the chisel: F1935.7, F1917.31, F1915.87 (with relief masks), F1917.57, F1917.34 (with slightly recessed tang), and F1917.28 (archaistic). Another tablet whose shape is at least in part inspired by that of the chisel is the broad and long F1915.69.
Chisel F1917.31 is similar in shape and proportions to an example in the Fogg Art Museum published in Max Loehr, Ancient Chinese jades from the Grenville L. Winthrop Collection in the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University (Cambridge, MA: Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, 1975), cat. 197, as "Western Chou [Zhou] 周(?)."
9. (Stephen Allee per Keith Wilson, March 31, 2008) On this date entered: Period One (Late Neolithic period), Date (ca. 2500–2000 BCE), Artist (Qijia 齊家 culture), Title, Object name, Geographical region (Northwest China); plus Dimensions per Christine Lee, from Jade Project Database.
10. (Jeffrey Smith per Keith Wilson, July 17, 2008) Ceremonial Objects added as secondary classification.
11. (Stephen Allee, March 23, 2009) Added designation "nephrite" to Medium as per Janet Douglas using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (January 8, 2009).
12. (Jeffrey Smith per Keith Wilson, March 2, 2016) Qija culture removed as Maker; object dates changed from ca. 2500-2000 BCE to dates of the Late Neolithic period, ca. 5000-ca. 1700 BCE

Web Resources
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Rights Statement

Copyright with museum

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