Dagger axe (ge 戈), fragment reworked


Historical period(s)
Erlitou culture or early Shang dynasty, ca. 2000-ca. 1400 BCE
Jade (nephrite)
H x W x D: 10.3 x 26.7 x 0.9 cm (4 1/16 x 10 1/2 x 3/8 in)
China, probably Henan province
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Ceremonial Object, Jade

Ceremonial object

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

Reportedly excavated in Anyang, Henan province, China [1]

From at least 1940 to 1941
C.T. Loo & Company, New York from at least November 12, 1940 [2]

From 1941
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from C.T. Loo & Company on March 20, 1941 [3]


[1] According to information provided by C. T. Loo to John E. Lodge, see John E. Lodge's curatorial remark, dated 1941, in object file.

[2] See "List of objects owned by C. T. Loo, New York […] at the Freer Gallery," with an annotation that the object was left by Loo on November 12, 1940, copy in object file.

[3] See C. T. Loo's invoice, dated March 20, 1941, where the object is described as "Knife jade (ko) greenish patina with splashes. Anyang Shang," copy in object file.

Previous Owner(s)

C.T. Loo & Company active 1908-1950


The blade known as ge, based on the shape of the metal dagger-axe, is first found at the early Shang site of Erlitou, Henan. A ge consists of a long blade beveled to a sharp edge on the sides, usually with a median crest; a projecting crosspiece with a perforation at the base of the blade; and a narrower butt, or tang, which may be plain or ribbed. Ge blades display great variations in size, from miniature to enormous. This variety of size is understandable in view of the fact that the jade blades were intended only for ceremonial and symbolic purposes, rather than for practical use. Small ge blades are occasionally mounted in bronze handles, usually adorned with inlaid turquoise. Some blades have a finely incised linear pattern at the back and just in front of the perforation.

Published References
  • Grace Dunham Guest A.G. Wenley. Annotated Outlines of the History of Chinese Arts. Washington, 1949. p. 6.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum