Dagger-axe (ge) with dragons


Historical period(s)
Early Anyang period, Late Shang dynasty, ca. 1300-1200 BCE
Bronze with turquoise inlay
H x W: 9.6 x 41.1 cm (3 3/4 x 16 3/16 in)
China, Henan province, Anyang
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Ceremonial Object, Metalwork


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

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

From 1947 to 1950
C.T. Loo & Company, New York, from 1947 [2]

From 1950
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from C. T. Loo & Company on June 28, 1950 [3]


[1] According to information provided by C. T. Loo, see A. G. Wenely's curatorial remark, dated 1950, in object file.

[2] See C. T. Loo's stockcard no. CHL-7/961: "Bronze knife, animal handle, turquoise mosaique An-Yang Shang green patina," Frank Caro Archive, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, copy in object file. According to an annotation on the stockcard, the object was acquired in China. On May 10, 1950, it was taken by Loo to the Freer Gallery for examination.

[3] See C. T. Loo's invoice, dated June 28, 1950, copy in object file.

Previous Owner(s)

C.T. Loo & Company active 1908-1950


Tiny turquoise mosaics define the coiled dragons, with beaked head, three-clawed paw, and spiraling tail, on the projecting tang of this dagger-axe. X-radiographs of this object reveals it was assembled from different pieces that might not have belonged together originally and were pinned and soldered in place in modern times. These repairs explain the disorderly areas of turquoise inlay.

Published References
  • Chinese Art Society of America. Chinese Art Recently Acquired by American Museums. vol. 5 Honolulu. p. 73, fig. 10.
  • Chugoku bijutsu (Chinese Art in Western Collections). 5 vols., Tokyo, 1972-1973. fig. 88a.
  • Sueji Umehara. In-kyo (Yin hsu: Ancient Capital of the Shang Dynasty at An-yang). Tokyo. pl. 33.
  • Joe Dan Lowry Joe P. Lowry. Turquoise: The World Story of a Fascinating Gemstone. Layton, UT. p. 56.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum