1. Bought from Seaouke Yue [You Xiaoxi] 游筱溪, of Shanghai. For price, see Original Miscellaneous List, p. 307.
2. (John Ellerton Lodge, 1942) This emblematic weapon was first published in the West, anyway, by Laufer in his Jade: A Study in Chinese Archaeology and Religion (Chicago: Field Museum of Natural History, 1912), pl. IX, pp. 40--41. He saw it in Beijing 北京 while it was still in the possession of Tuan Fang [Duanfang] 端方 (see folder F1918.1, Paragraph 2) from whom he obtained a photograph of it and information to the effect that it "was dug up in 1903 not far from the old city in Feng siang fu / Feng hsiang Fu [Fengxiang fu] 鳳翔府 in Shensi [Shaanxi] 陝西 province from a considerable depth . . ." (op. cit., p. 40). There seems to be no reason why this statement of provenance should not be accepted as true; and a very interesting locality it involves.
Originally, this region seems to have been known by the name of Ch'i Shan [Qishan] 岐山, the mountain which dominated it; and, indeed, there is still a District (縣) called Ch'i shan [Qishan] 岐山 in the Feng hsiang [Fengxiang] 鳳翔 Prefecture. South of the mountain stretched a fertile plain, and thither, in the 26th year of the Shang 商 Emperor Hsiao I [Xiaoyi] 小乙 (circa 1327 BCE), came to the Ancient Duke T'an fu [Tan Fu] 古公亶父, known also as King T'ai [Tai] 太, with his people from Pin [Bin] 豳/邠. There he settled down; there built the city of Chou [Zhou] 周, and there founded the royal line of the great Chou [Zhou] 周 dynasty. He was succeeded by his son Chi li [Jili] 季歷 (1284--1185 BCE), who, five years before his death, was formally recognized by the Shang 商 Emperor Ti i [Diyi] 帝乙 as Duke Chi [Ji] 季 of Chou [Zhou] 周. He, in turn, was succeeded by his son Ch'ang [Chang] 昌 (1231--1135 BCE), known also as "Chief of the West (西伯)," and posthumously as King Wen 文 of Chou [Zhou] 周, who was the father of Fa 發 (1169--1116 BCE), afterward King Wu 武, the final conquerer of Shang 商 and the first reigning sovereign of the Chou [Zhou] 周 dynasty. This, in outline, is the account given in the "Shih chi [Shiji] 史記" (see Sima Qian 司馬遷, Les memorires historiques de Se-ma-Ts'ien, trans. Edouard Chavannes [Paris: E. Leroux, 1895--1905], vol. I, pp. 213ff; see also James Legge, The Chinese Classics [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1893--95], vol. II, p. 176, and vol. IV, part 2, pp. 427--64); but further details appear in the Shih Ching [Shijing] 詩經 "Book of Songs," and more again, as well as a different chronology, in the "Annals of the Bamboo Books 竹書紀年."
The principal events and their sequence, however, are fairly consistant throughout all the records. Little is told about the relations between the Shang 商 Emperors and the Ancient Duke or Duke Chi [Ji] 季; but between the last two Emperors on the one hand and Dukes Ch'ang [Chang] 昌 and Fa 發 (i.e., King Wen 文 and King Wu 武) on the other, relations became increasingly frequent and unfriendly, until the final overthrow of Shang 商 and the triumph of Chou [Zhou] 周. However, the "Bamboo Books" say that on one occassion when Duke Chi [Ji] 季 did homage at the Court of the Emperor Wu i [Wuyi] 武乙, he was presented with "ten pairs of jades 玉十穀," and on a later occasion received a kuei-tsan [guizan] 圭瓚, --a ceremonial jade of some sort, --from the Emperor Wen ting [Wending] 文丁 (James Legge, The Chinese Classics [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1893--95], vol. III, part 1, Prolegomena, pp. 137--38 Note); while in the "Book of Songs," it is said that the officers of Yin 殷 (Shang 商) assisted at the sacrifices in the Chou [Zhou] 周 capital (James Legge, The Chinese Classics [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1893--95], vol. IV, part 2, p. 430). Perhaps these instances, though few in number, are in themselves enough to indicate that Shang 商 ceremonial objects of jade normally found their way to Chou [Zhou] 周 long before the Shang 商 dynasty fell, and that the present example, excavated in the homeland of Chou [Zhou] 周 (周原) may well be one such object. That it is a product of the Shang 商 rather than the contemporary Chou [Zhou] 周 culture is strongly suggested by the high perfection of its design and execution. It is distinctly more metropolitan than provincial in appearance--the kind of thing more reasonably to be expected from the craftsmen of a long established, sophisticated, and luxurious civilization like that of Shang 商, than from those of a relatively new born, raw, and pushing community like that of Chou [Zhou] 周. The fact that it was found in the ancient territory of Chou [Zhou] 周 does not necessarily mean that it was made there, but does, I think, imply that it was made before the Chou [Zhou] 周 capital was moved from the foot of Mount Ch'i [Qi] 岐 to Feng 豊 (circa 1136), and so before the fall of Shang 商.
Its exquisite finish has much in common with that of our F1939.19 and F1939.20, --which are said to have come from Anyang 安陽, --and with F1941.3 and F1919.17, --neither one of known provenance. Moreover, the blades of all these, --and of our F1919.61 too, --seem to follow a recognizable pattern with respect to their surfaces and edges. Thus, the present example has a relatively thin, two edged blade provided with a median ridge running from butt to point. The outline of either edge is varied by two slight waves or projections which form transverse pairs, --one about midway between butt and point, the other seeming to establish a base line at which the pointing of the blade begins. Between this apparent base line and the actual point, the taper of the edges starts at the median ridge, and this short section of the blade is, therefore, divided into two longitudinal surfaces; but the longer section, between the base line and the butt, is divided into four longitudinal surfaces, two of which are separated from one another by the median ridge and are respectively flanked by the clearly defined taper surface of the corresponding edge. Thus the general effect is that the two surfaces adjacent to the median ridge run the full length of the blade, while the taper surfaces of the two long edges begin, --or end, --at the pair of slight projections which mark the base line of the pointing. This may be taken as the type of pattern with which the blades in this small group conform, on the whole, so closely as to suggest that they are all representative of the same tradition and, approximately, of the same period, --perhaps late Shang 商, perhaps the early decades of Chou [Zhou] 周, when the cultural influence of Shang 商 was still directly felt.
By that time, anyway, the ancient ko [ge] 戈 type of bronze weapon had already acquired, in addition to its practical significance as an arm, a purely ceremonial significance as an emblem, and even a special form in which the latter aspect was embodied. Possibly our F1934.8, F1939.39, F1939.40, and F1941.5 may be said to illustrate stages in such a development, since all four suggest ceremonial rather than practical use. They are quite orthodox in form, and look as if they had once been hafted; moreover, the first three are made of bronze; but F1934.8 has dull, cast edges, a blunt point and inlaid decorations; F1939.39 and F1939.40 are too thin to be strong and are extensively inlaid with turquoise; while F1941.5 has a thin jade blade and a bronze tang densely inlaid with turquoise. In the present example, however, the separation of the ceremonial from the practical aspect of the ko [ge] 戈 weapon is seen to be an accomplished fact; the former has retained nothing of the latter except its general shape; in all other respects, --intention, material, size, proportions, detail, technique, finish, --the ko [ge] 戈 emblem is as distinct in its own way as the ko [ge] 戈 weapon (see Folder Sheet F1919.13, Paragraph 3). No doubt the bronze weapon preceded, as it also survived, the jade emblem; but there must have been a long period during which the two were made and used contemporaneously, and for this reason neither can at present contribute much to the accurate dating of the other. It can be fairly said, however, that the period which produced the present example was also the period when the demand for such things was most exacting and the art of making them most highly developed.
In this connection, our own records (see Miscellaneous List, S.I. 1336) supply further information to the effect that this jade was excavated from the grave of the first Duke of Shao 召, and was known as the "red sword 赤刀." On the face of it, there is nothing impossible about this and, if true, it is of great interest; but the dealer Seaouke Yue (Yu Hsiao ch'I [You Xiaoxi] 游筱溪) who, in a letter of May 13th, 1917, addressed to Mr. Freer, as well as in an accompanying statement written in Chinese (See Voucher No. 1, November 1917) gave the information as a matter of proven fact, unfortunately failed to mention the source from which he derived it, or to offer any other supporting evidence. It can hardly be doubted that, if Laufer had heard and believed the story, he would have reported it; but there is no reference to it in his account of the piece (Berthold Laufer, Jade: A Study in Chinese Archaeology and Religion [Chicago: Field Museum of Natural History, 1912], pl. IX, pp. 40--41). He does say, however, that the jade is of "peculiar light reddish" color, thus sustaining, in a way, the dealer's statement that the object was called the "red sword"; but upon whatever this name or Laufer's observation may have been based, there is certainly no trace of red in the stone itself now, although flecks of cinnabar still adhering to the tang suggest that the whole thing may once have been so smeared with red pigment as to merit such a title from its discoverers.
The presence of cinnabar in early Chinese burials, although not related, as far as I know, to any practice mentioned in the ancient records, is familiar to modern archaeology, and the mere fact that there are still traces of vermilion on this jade is enough to indicate that it was found in a grave, while the further fact of its large size and fine quality is an equally sure indication that the grave was prepared for an important personage. Such a personage was, no doubt, the first Duke of Shao 召. His personal name was Shih [Shi] 奭, and he and his elder brother Tan [Dan] 旦 were younger sons of King Wen 文 and, therefore, younger brothers of King Wu 武 of Chou [Zhou] 周. When King Wen 文 moved his capital to Feng 豐, he divided the government of his former territory between his younger sons, making Shih [Shi] 奭 Duke of Shao 召 (the modern District of Yuan ch'u [Yuanqu] 垣曲 in Shansi [Shanxi] 山西), and Tan [Dan] 旦 Duke of Chou [Zhou] 周; but when King Wu 武 came to the throne in 1122 BCE, he bestowed the marquisate of Northern Yen [Yan] 燕 upon the Duke of Shao 召, and the marquisate of Lu 魯 upon the Duke of Chou [Zhou] 周. Yen [Yan] 燕 was in Chihli [Zhili] 直隸, Lu 魯 in Shantung [Shandong] 山東, and neither Duke seems to have spent much time in his respective marquisate; moreover, during the minority of King Wu 武's successor, King Ch'eng [Cheng] 成, and the Regency of the Duke of Chou [Zhou] 周, the Duke of Shao 召 was attached to the Royal Court as Grand Guardian 太保, and had, also, general supervision of the Western part of the Empire. He was one of the ablest of the men who established the Chou [Zhou] 周 dynasty, and since he apparently retained his marquisate of Northern Yen [Yan] 燕 for 70 years, he can hardly have been much less than 90 at the time of his death in 1053 BCE. That he died in the Capital (Feng 豐 or Lo [Luo] 洛) seems likely, since he still served as Grand Guardian 太保 under King K'ang [Kang] 康, successor to King Ch'eng [Cheng] 成; but I do not know of any evidence regarding this point nor of any, --apart from Seaouke Yue [You Xiaoxi] 游筱溪's letter, --regarding the place of the Duke's burial, although it might reasonably be sought among the tombs of his contemporaries near Hsien yang [Xianyang] 咸陽 in the Hsi an [Xi'an] 西安 Prefecture of Shensi [Shaanxi] 陝西. He was, no doubt, quite worthy of this fine emblematic jade, even as it was worthy of him, and it might have been conferred upon him when, for example, he became Duke of Shao 召 or Marquis of Yen [Yan] 燕 or Grand Guardian 太保; but except from hearsay, there is, I think, no evidence that it was ever associated with him in any way. However, John Calvin Ferguson, in his Outlines of Chinese Art (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1919), pp. 72--74, refers to three jade tablets which were taken, in 1902, from the grave of the Duke of Shao 召. He goes on to say: "While Tuan Fang [Duanfang] 端方 was governor of Shen si [Shaanxi] 陝西 province, he ordered the repairing of this grave, but in the process the masonry collapsed and these scepters were found. One remains in the possession of Tuan Fang [Duanfang] 端方's family, one belongs to Feng Kung tu, of Beijing 北京, and the third is now in an American Collection." That one of the three which Ferguson illustrates is not ours, nor, indeed, is there any conclusive reason to think that ours is involved in what he says; but his statement does support a belief that the grave of the Duke of Shao 召 has been identified.
3. (Thomas Lawton, 1978) Late Shang 商, 12th--11th century BCE. Previously attributed to Shang 商--Chou [Zhou] 周.
4. (Julia K. Murray, 1982) The jade ko [ge] 戈 is a dagger shaped blade made as a ceremonial substitute for the functional bronze ko [ge] 戈, which was used as a weapon. Sometimes the jade blade was mounted in a bronze handle (see F1941.5), making the substitution for the bronze blade directly; more often the jade blade was complete in itself. The type first appears in remains of the early Shang 商 period at Erh-li-t'ou [Erlitou] 二里頭, Honan [Henan] 河南, and the evolution of the shape continues well into the Chou [Zhou] 周 period. Perhaps the greatest concentration of jade ko [ge] 戈 occurs in sites of the late Shang 商 period, particularly at Anyang 安陽, Honan [Henan] 河南.
Jade ko [ge] 戈 vary greatly in size. The middle Shang 商 sites of P'an lung ch'eng [Panlongcheng] 盤龍城, Hupei [Hubei] 湖北 and Erh li kang [Erligang] 二里崗, Honan [Henan] 河南, have yielded extremely large and finely made blades (comparable to F1917.396), clearly objects of considerable ritual importance. At the other extreme, trinket like miniature blades, perhaps intended to be worn (see F1916.149, F1916.150, F1939.19, F1939.20, F1979.33, F1979.35) have been excavated from late Shang 商 sites in Anyang 安陽, Honan [Henan] 河南 (see Ma Te-chih [Ma Dezhi] 馬得志, Chou Yung-chen [Zhou Yongzhen] 周永珍, and Chang Yun-p'eng [Zhang Yunpeng] 張雲鵬, "1953 nien Anyang Ta-ssu-k'ung ts'un fa-chueh pao-kao [1953 nian Anyang Dasikong cun fajue baogao] 1953年安陽大司空村發掘報告," K'ao ku hsueh pao [Kaogu xuebao] 考古學報 1955.9, pl. 19; and Chung-kuo she-hui k'e-hsueh-yuan k'ao-ku yen-chiu-suo Anyang kung-tso-tui [Zhongguo shehui kexuyuan kaogu yanjiusuo Anyang gongzuodui] 中國社會科學院考古研究所安陽工作隊, "1969--1977 nien Yin-hsu hsi-ch'u mu-tsang fa-chueh pao-kao [1969--1977 nian Yinxu xiqu muzang fajue baogao] 1969--1977 年殷墟西區墓葬發掘報告," K'ao ku hsueh pao [Kaogu xuebao] 考古學報 1979.1, p. 101, fig. 76), and from Western Chou [Zhou] 周 sites in Shensi [Shaanxi] 陝西, Honan [Henan] 河南, and Kansu [Gansu] 甘肅 (see Folder Sheet F1979.33).
The evolution of the shape of the blade in general proceeded from the distinctly individual, carefully contoured Shang 商 type to the more perfunctory and less articulated Chou [Zhou] 周 type; and ends in the mass produced, straight and flat tablets found at Hou ma [Houma] 候馬, Shansi [Shanxi] 山西, which belong to the Eastern Chou [Zhou] 周 period (for an example, see Shanxi sheng wenwu gongzuo weiyuanhui 山西省文物考古工作委員會, "'Houma mengshu' de faxian, fajue yu zhengli qingkuang '侯馬盟書'的發現、發掘與整理情況," Wenwu 文物 1975.5, pl. 2: 1-2, 5-6, pl. 3: 1-4.
Incised surface decoration appears on some blades (F1915.108, F1916.150, F1917.37, F1917.396, F1919.13, and F1978.31). Sometimes it is arranged in groups of parallel lines, as on a ko [ge] 戈 blade from Erh-li-t'ou [Erlitou] 二里頭 (Chung-kuo k'e-hsueh yuan k'ao-ku yen-chiu-suo Erh-li-t'ou kung-tso-tui [Zhongguo kexueyuan kaogu yanjiusuo Erlitou gongzuodui] 中國科學院考古研究所二里頭工作隊, "Yen-shih Erh-li-t'ou i-chih hsin fa-hsien ti t'ung-ch'i ho yu-ch'i [Yanshi Erlitou yizhi xin faxian de tongqi he yuqi] 偃師二里頭遺址新發現的銅器和玉器," K'ao ku [Kaogu] 考古 1976.4, pl. 6:1 lower); cross hatch designs are also found, as on a large hu 笏 blade from the same site (Yen-shih hsien wen-hua-kuan [Yanshi xian wenhuaguan] 偃師縣文化館, "Erh-li-t'ou i-chih ch'u-t'u ti t'ung-ch'i ho yu-ch'i [Erlitou yizhi chutu de tongqi he yuqi] 二里頭遺址出土的銅器和玉器," K'ao ku [Kaogu] 考古 1978.4, pl. 12: 3). Chou [Zhou] 周 blades are more likely to be plain.
5. (Jenny F. So, January 1996) Added "(ca. 1600--ca. 1050 BCE)." "Ca. 1523--1028 BCE" changed to "ca. 1400--1300 BCE."
6. (Stephen Allee, as per Keith Wilson, June 12, 2008) As per Jenny F. So, Jade Project Database, changed Date from (ca. 1400--1300 BCE) to (ca. 2000--ca. 1600 BCE); changed Object Name from "Ritual halberd blade (ge 戈)" to "Ceremonial object"; changed Title from "Ritual halberd blade (ge 戈)" to "Dagger-axe (ge 戈)." Added Previous Owner to Constituents (Ex-collection Duanfang 端方, 1861--1911). Added "Erlitou 二里頭 period" to Period two. Added Dimensions per Christine Lee, from Jade Project Database. Added designation "nephrite" to Medium as per Elizabeth West Fitzhugh, April 1956, as determined by x-ray diffraction.
7. (Jeffrey Smith per Keith Wilson, July 17, 2008) Ceremonial object added as secondary classification.
8. (Susan Kitsoulis per Keith Wilson, June 10, 2010) Added "Erlitou 二里頭 culture" to artist constituent field; changed geographical location from "Anyang 安陽, Henan 河南 province" to "Probably Henan 河南 province"; deleted "Shang 商 dynasty, Erlitou 二里頭 period"; changed date from "ca. 2000--1600 BCE" to "ca. 1800--1600 BCE."
9. (Najiba Choudhury per Keith Wilson, August 16, 2017) Title changed from "Dagger-axe (ge)" to "Dagger axe (ge 戈)"; Period One changed from "Erlitou period" to "Eriltou culture or early Shang dynasty"; Date changed from "ca. 1800-1600 BCE" to "ca. 2000-ca. 1400 BCE"; Measurements changed from "H x W x D: 84.1 x 11.8 x 0.9 cm (33 1/8 x 4 11/16 x 3/8 in)" to "H x W x D: 11.8 x 84.1 x 0.9 cm (4 11/16 x 33 1/8 x 3/8 in)".
10. (Najiba Choudhury per Keith Wilson, December 21, 2018) Changed Title from "Dagger axe (ge 戈)" to "Dagger-axe (ge 戈)"; added Chinese Translation by Jingmin Zhang; removed the following from the Description field, "Large emblematic weapon of the type "ge" (one chip missing). Opaque nephrite mottled and striped in shades of gray and yellow-gray. Carved and engraved with parallel ridges and lines in various patterns; a conical perforation in the tang. Rough wooden box. Neg. No. 5352B, S12B"; added the following to the Description field, "Large emblematic weapon of the type ko [ge] (one chip missing). Opaque nephrite mottled and striped in shades of gray and yellow gray. Carved and engraved with parallel ridges and lines in various patterns; a conical perforation in the tang. Acquired with an inscribed wooden box."
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