Dagger-axe (ge 戈)


Historical period(s)
Anyang period, Late Shang dynasty, ca. 1300-ca. 1050 BCE
Bronze with turquoise inlay and jade (nephrite) blade
H x W x D (overall): 34.5 x 17.5 x 5.4 cm (13 9/16 x 6 7/8 x 2 1/8 in)
China, probably Henan province, Anyang
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Accession Number
On View Location
Freer Gallery 19: Afterlife: Ancient Chinese Jades
Ceremonial Object, Metalwork

Ceremonial object

Anyang period (ca. 1300 - ca. 1050 BCE), casting, China, dragon, engraving, inlay, nephrite, Shang dynasty (ca. 1600 - ca. 1050 BCE), WWII-era provenance

From 1939 to 1940
C.T. Loo & Company, New York from September 26, 1939 [1]

From 1940
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from C.T. Loo & Company on May 3, 1940 [3]


[1] See C. T. Loo's stockcard no. 86520: "Set of four pieces, bronze ornaments, Shang," Frank Caro Archive, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, copy in object file. According to information on the stockcard the object was inventoried on September 26, 1939. See also "List of objects owned by C. T. Loo & Co., New York and [left] at the Gallery for examination," with an annotation that the piece was delivered by Loo to the Freer Gallery on November 4, 1939, copy in object file.

[3] See C. T. Loo's invoice, dated May 3, 1940, copy in object file.

Previous Owner(s)

C.T. Loo & Company active 1908-1950


No objects of this type have yet been scientifically excavated in China, so it is difficult to know the purpose of this extremely rare axe. It consists of four separate pieces: a tubular bronze handle, two caps with dragon motifs, and an unusual serrated jade blade that might not be original. Traces of wood inside the handle suggest it was lengthened with additional elements that are now missing.

Published References
  • compiled by the staff of the Freer Gallery of Art. A Descriptive and Illustrative Catalogue of Chinese Bronzes: Acquired During the Administration of John Ellerton Lodge. Oriental Studies Series, no. 3 Washington, 1946. p. 88, pl. 42.
  • Grace Dunham Guest A.G. Wenley. Annotated Outlines of the History of Chinese Arts. Washington, 1949. p. 6.
  • Cheng Te-k'un. Archaeology in China. 3 vols., Cambridge, England. pl. 35a.
  • Chugoku no bijutsu (The Arts of China ). 6 vols., Kyoto. p. 201, pl. 47.
  • Rene Grousset. La Chine et son Art. Collection Ars et historia Paris. facing p. 29.
  • Mizuno Seiichi. In Shu seidoki to tama (alt. spelling: In-sho seidoki to gyoku) (Bronzes and Jades of Ancient China). Tokyo. pl. 1.
  • Na Chih-liang. Yu ch'i t'ung shih (A General Study of Chinese Jade). Hong Kong, 1965. p. 71, fig. 94.
  • Sekai bijutsu zenshu (A Complete Collection of World Art). 40 vols., Tokyo, F1951-1953. cat. 72.
  • Sekai kokogaku taikei (Archaeology of the World). 16 vols., Tokyo, 1958-1962. p. 98, fig. 275.
  • Smithsonian Institution. Report of the Secretary, 1940. Washington. p. 43, pl. 1.
  • Werner Speiser. China: Geist und Gesellschaft. Kunst der Welt Baden-Baden. p. 47.
  • Sueji Umehara. In-kyo (Yin hsu: Ancient Capital of the Shang Dynasty at An-yang). Tokyo. pl. 38.
  • Sueji Umehara. Furia bijutsukan Shuzo no Gijo no Riki to sono ichirui (An Example of a Ceremonial Axe in the Collection of the Freer Gallery of Art). vol. 13, no. 4 Kyoto, October 1954. pp. 1-17, pl. 1.
  • William Watson. The Art of Dynastic China. New York, 1981. ill. 210.
  • William Watson. China Before the Han Dynasty. Ancient Peoples and Places, vol. 23 New York. fig. 22.
  • A.G. Wenley. Early Chinese Jade. vol. 63, no. 5 Washington, November 1946. p. 342.
  • Zusetsu sekai bunkashi taikei (Cultural History of the World). 27 vols., Tokyo, 1958-1961. p. 70, fig. 97.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum