Dagger axe (ge 戈)


Artist: Erlitou culture 二裏頭 (ca. 2000-1600 BCE)
Historical period(s)
Erlitou period to early Shang dynasty, ca. 2000-ca. 1400 BCE
Jade (nephrite)
H x W x D: 10.2 x 67.1 x 0.6 cm (4 x 26 7/16 x 1/4 in)
China, probably Henan province
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Ceremonial Object, Jade

Ceremonial halberd

China, Erlitou period (ca. 2000 - 1600 BCE), nephrite, Shang dynasty (ca. 1600 - ca. 1050 BCE)

Duanfang (1861-1911), Peking [1]

To 1919
You Xiaoxi, Shanghai, to 1919 [2]

Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from You Xiaoxi in Shanghai in 1919 [3]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [4]


[1] According to Curatorial Remark 3 in the object record.

[2] See S.I. 1392, Original Miscellaneous List, pg. 323, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[3] See note 2.

[4] 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.

Previous Owner(s)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Duanfang 1861-1911
You Xiaoxi (C.L. Freer source) late 19th-early 20th century


This is one of the largest jades to survive from ancient China. While the shape is based on early Bronze Age weapons, its exceptional size and thinness indicate it was a symbol of power meant for public display, not battle. The incised inscription near the base of the blade—rare among early jades—commemorates the Taibao’s successful mission to the south during the early years of the Zhou dynasty. In appreciation, the king presented this valued antique blade to the Grand Protector, who had it inscribed with a new text.

In the sixth month on the day bingyin the king was at Feng [west of modern Xi’an]. He ordered the Taibao to inspect the southern states along the Han [River]. . . . [He] commanded the Lord of Li to assist, using one hundred infantrymen.

Published References
  • Thomas Lawton Linda Merrill. Freer: a legacy of art. Washington and New York, 1993. p. 206, fig. 141.
  • Na Chih-liang. Yu ch'i t'ung shih (A General Study of Chinese Jade). Hong Kong, 1965. p. 78, fig. 104.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum