1. Bought from Seaouke Yue [You Xiaoxi] 游筱溪, in Shanghai 上海. For price, see S.I. 1392, Original Miscellaneous List, p. 323.
2. (Undated Folder Sheet note) The fracture had occurred at about where the blade and tang met. It was repaired by S. Mikami in 1929. Handle carefully.
3. (John Ellerton Lodge, 1939) This jade was formerly in the collection of Tuan Fang [Duanfang] 端方 (see Folder F1918.1, Paragraph 2) and was published in his posthumous T'ao chai ku-yu t'u [Taozhai guyu tu] 陶齋古玉圖, vol. 1 (Shanghai: Laiqingge, 1936), pp. 84--85, where it is called a "jade sword 玉刀," --a good descriptive name for it. On the box lid, however, is an engraved description which says: 周璋 "Chou [Zhou] dynasty scepter," and then, in smaller script: 陶齋舊藏上刻 "formerly in the collection of T'ao chai [Taozhai] 陶齋. On it is engraved . . ." and then follows what seems to be a combined inscription and interpretation of the inscription on the jade; but according to Wu Ta ch'eng [Wu Dacheng] 吳大澂 (Ku yu t'u k'ao [Guyu tu kao] 古玉圖考 [Shanghai: Tongwen shuju, 1889], pp. 19--20), who quotes pertinently from the Chou Li [Zhou Li] 周禮, a chang [zhang] 璋 or "scepter" was something quite different from our blade. The drawing reproduced by Wu 吳 shows an oblong slab with one end chamfered to an angle of about 45 degrees and with a single perforation fairly near the middle, --vertically as well as horizontally; moreover, it is the chamfered or pointed end of the slab that is decorated with a band of parallel and crisscross lines, and, altogether, there is little or nothing to suggest either that the object chang [zhang] 璋 was directly derived from a weapon, as our blade obviously was, or that the term chang [zhang] 璋 is accurately applicable to our blade. This long, sword like type of thing does not appear at all in Wu 吳's book: Huang Chun [Huang Jun] 黃濬, however, reproduces two of them (Ku-yu t'u-lu ch'u-chi [Guyu tulu chuji] 古玉圖錄初集 (Beijing: Zunguzhai, 1939), vol. I, p. 16), but, as usual, without a word of information or comment; and our collection contains one other (F1917.396), --larger and better made, --as well as several smaller blades of similar form. In the case of these latter it is plausible enough to say that they are derived from the ko [ge] 戈 type of bronze weapon, --though not, perhaps, from the earliest form of it such as is seen as a pictograph in certain inscriptions on the more ancient bronze vessels; but it seems much less plausible that bronze weapons of the same size of this blade or of our F1917.396 would ever have been shafted horizontally, as the ko [ge] 戈 invariably was, or, if so shafted, could have been of much use. At best, the relatively awkward shafting of so long and heavy a blade must have resulted in a scythe like and singularly clumsy weapon, even if wielded from a war chariot (see Chou-li [Zhou Li] 周禮, "Tung-kuan [Dongguan] 冬官," pp. 4 verso--5; Edouard Biot, Le Tcheou-li [Paris: L'Imprimerie nationale, 1851], vol. II, p. 463).
It is possible, however, that when the ko [ge] 戈 came to be copied in jade for purely emblematic use, such considerations as length and weight, being then of no functional importance, would be little regarded. At all events it is certain that, between late Shang 商 and late Chou [Zhou] 周 times, jade blades of this general type were made varying in over all length from a little more than 33 inches (F1917.396, 841 mm) to a little less than 7 (F1939.21, 171 mm) and comprising intermediate lengths of which our Collection includes several examples. The Chou-li [Zhou Li] 周禮 does not describe the emblematic ko [ge] 戈 made of jade; it does, however, give the dimensions of the ko [ge] 戈 weapon made of bronze (see Chou-li [Zhou Li] 周禮, "Tung-kuan [Dongguan] 冬官," p. 20 verso; Edouard Biot, Le Tcheou-li [Paris: L'Imprimerie nationale, 1851], vol. II, p. 494); but the reference is to a more developed type having the lower edge of the blade extended downward along the haft so as to form what is called the hu 胡 or "dewlap." Measured, presumably, from butt to point, the blade (yuan 援) of such a ko [ge] 戈 was, according to the Chou-li [Zhou Li] 周禮, 8 ts'un [cun] 寸 in length, and if the Chou [Z hou] 周 ts'un [cun] 寸 be estimated as the equivalent of about 2 centimeters (see e.g., Wu Ta ch'eng [Wu Dacheng] 吳大澂, op. cit.; and Biot, op. cit., p. 463, note 5), then 8 ts'un [cun] 寸 is approximately equal to 6 1/4 of our inches. For present purposes, this measurement is of interest chiefly as an indication of the size of a horizontally hafted blade which was thought to be most serviceable; but there is a good deal of evidence to show that some early Chou [Zhou] 周 ko [ge] 戈 weapons of this same type had blades an inch or so longer, while in late Chou [Zhou] 周 times and later, they were often as much as 2 inches shorter.
Apart, however, from these emblematic jades, there is nothing to suggest that the ko [ge] 戈 weapon or whatever type or period ever had a blade of any such length as 27 inches (F1917.396) or even 19 3/4 inches (F1919.13) from butt to point. The form of these great jade blades is, no doubt, that of the simpler type of bronze ko [ge] 戈; but their large size seems to be peculiar to themselves, --their purely ceremonial use and their material. Particularly suited to jade, too, is the engraved decoration of parallel and criss-cross lines; but the device of grinding the edge down from a shoulder which parallels the contour of the blade is to be seen in bronzes (e.g., F1934.8) as well as in jades (see also F1919.60), although in the sense of the ceremonial bronze ko [ge] 戈 just mentioned, the edge appears to have been cast, not ground. On one surface of the present example there is a median ridge beginning at the end of the tang and vanishing about two thirds of the way along the blade; but it is evidently due to a fault in manufacture.
4. (Undated Folder Sheet note ) On the same surface, immediately to the left of the band of decoration, the inscription is engraved. It extends from edge to edge of the butt of the blade, and consists of a column and a quarter of small characters, 30 in all, which may be clearly seen against a glancing light, and are shown enlarged a little more than twice in the accompanying photograph. The script is, on the whole, typical of the early Chou [Zhou] 周 style and may be transcribed as "六月丙寅王才豐令大保省南國帥漢□守南令□侯辟用束貝七朋走百人." It may be translated as follows:
"In the 6th moon, on a ping-yin [bingyin] 丙寅 day, the King was in Feng 豊. He ordered the Grand Guardian to inspect the southern States, to follow the Han 漢 (river) and go to guard the South. He ordered the Marquis -- to supervise the use of sheaves (of arrows), seven strings of cowries and one hundred foot soldiers."
The character □, which I have transcribed □, occurs also in the inscription on our fang i [fangyi] 方彝 (F1930.54), and in that connection has been transcribed □by Lo Chen yu [Luo Zhenyu] 羅振玉 (Chen sung t'ang chi ku i wen [Zhensongtang jigu yiwen] 貞松堂集古遺文, vol. IV, p. 50) and others. I have taken it as about equivalent to wang 往 and have so translated it. The one character I have not ventured to transcribe has been read ch'en [chen] 陳（敶） by the writer of the inscription on the box lid, and this reading is plausible to the extent that the left and right elements of the character, fou 阝and pu [bu] 攴or 攵 respectively, are quite plain; but the middle element is to me, at least, very far from plain, and to equate it with a possible tung [dong] 東 or chü [ju] 車 or shen 申 seems out of the question. Moreover, the character ch'en [chen] 敶, as well as the combination ch'en hou [chen hou] 敶侯, is to be found among comparable inscriptions on bronzes (see e.g., Liu Hsin yuan [Liu Xinyuan] 劉心源, Ch'i ku shih chi chin wen shu [Qigushi jijinwen shu] 奇觚室吉金文述, part I, p. 28, part IV, p. 13; and Wu Ta ch'eng [Wu Dacheng] 吳大澂, K'o chai chi ku lu [Kezhai ji gu lu] 恪齋集古錄, vol. V, p. 18, vol. IX, pp. 6 and 11 verso), and it must be admitted that, apart from the elements fou 阝 and pu [bu] 攴, the bronze writings of ch'en [chen] 敶 do not at all resemble the writing of the doubtful character on our jade blade. Had not this character been followed by hou 候 "Marquis," one may reasonably question whether the writer of the box lid inscription would have transcribed it as he did. Thus, the title suggests that the preceding character might well be the name of one of the ancient Marquisates, and among all the Chou [Zhou] 周 states of that rank, ch'en [chen] 敶 was the only one whose name could be expressed by a character containing both fou 阝 and pu [bu] 攴. In addition, "the Marquis of Ch'en [chen] 敶," as a phrase, makes perfectly good sense in that context. Disregarding as too unlikely, then, the place names Ao 隞 and Ch'en [Chen]□, the only other similarly composed characters known to me, it still appears that the reading Ch'en [Chen] 敶 is by no means without circumstantial evidence to support it, although direct evidence is confined to the reading of the two elements fou 阝 and pu [bu] 攴. It is possible, no doubt, that the character may be a personal name; but this supposition does not, of course, help with the reading of it. On the whole, therefore, I have thought best to leave it unread for the present.
5. (Undated Folder Sheet note) Lacking any indication of the year in which this ping-yin [bingyin] 丙寅 day of the 6th moon occurred, the only suggestion of a date contained in the inscription is the reference to Feng 豊, the original Chou [Zhou] 周 capital established just before his death by King Wen 文, founder of the dynasty. During the reign (1122--1115 BCE) of his successor, King Wu 武, a second capital was established at Hao 鎬, and both are said to have survived until the reign (770--719 BCE) of King P'ing [Ping] 平 who, soon after his accession, transferred the capital to Lo [Luo] 洛. Thus, from the statement that "the King was in Feng 豐," it may be tentatively inferred that Feng 豐 was still the capital, and that this particular occasion when the King was there must have been prior to 770 BCE, and was possibly much earlier. Furthermore, this blade, inscribed as it is, may have been bestowed upon the Marquis as his royal authorization to do certain things, in which case the blade and the inscription may be regarded as contemporary; but it is also possible that the Marquis recorded the King's command on a blade already belonging to himself, in which case the inscription might be regarded as later--perhaps one or more generations later--than the blade. In the former case, it may be more likely that the Marquis would have been designated by the name of his State; but in the latter case, the Marquis may well have designated himself by his personal name. This merely means that the correct reading of the doubtful character is not necessarily to be sought only among the names of the States. In any case, however, it seems more reasonable to suppose that the King's command was of more lasting importance to the Marquis than to anyone else, and that the blade was owned and treasured by him--whoever he was.
6. (Thomas Lawton, 1968) As an appendix to the fifth part of his article on Western Chou [Zhou] 周 Bronze Vessels ("Hsi Chou t'ung ch'i tuan tai [Xizhou tongqi duandai] 西周銅器斷代," in K'ao ku hsueh pao [Kaogu xuebao] 考古學報 1956.3, p. 127, pl. 16), Ch'en Meng chia [Chen Mengjia] 陳夢家 gives a variant reading of the inscription on the jade blade. Instead of the twenty nine characters suggested by Tuan fang [Duanfang] 端方, Ch'en [Chen] 陳 gives only 27. His reading is as follows: 六月丙寅王才豐令大保省南或帥漢造官南令厲候用□龜走百人.
7. (Thomas Lawton, 1978) Attribution changed from "Chou [Zhou] 周 dynasty, early" to "Late Shang 商." The blade itself is stylistically late Shang 商 in date, although the inscription refers to an event in the Western Chou [Zhou] 周.
8. (Julia K. Murray, 1980) Exhibition Ancient Chinese Jade label text; moved to label field.
9. (Julia K. Murray, 1982) For a general discussion of jade ko [ge] 戈, see Folder Sheet F1917.396.
The inscription is written in the archaic script of the early Western Chou [Zhou] 周 period; this stylistic dating is supported by the mention of Feng 豊, a Western Chou [Zhou] 周 capital, in the text itself. A tentative translation might be the following:
"On the ping-yin [bingyin] 丙寅 day of the sixth month, when the King was in Feng 豊, he ordered the Grand Guardian to inspect the Southern states, lead the army to the Han 漢 (River), and administer the South. He ordered Marquis Li 厲 to use . . . (?) and 100 foot soldiers."
As pointed out previously, the shape of the blade itself corresponds to a Shang 商 type, and a ko [ge] 戈comparable in size and shape was excavated from remains of the middle Shang 商 period at Cheng-chou [Zhengzhou] 鄭州, Honan [Henan] 河南 (Henan sheng wenhuaju wenwu gongzuodui diyidui 河南省文化局文物工作隊第一隊, "Zhengzhou Shangdai yizhi de fajue 鄭州商代遺址的發掘," Kaogu xuebao 考古學報 1957.1, pl. 5: 12 first on right). The loose cross hatch pattern and boundary lines incised in both sides also are appropriate for Shang 商 surface decoration. The uninscribed side bears a ghost impression of a textile pattern, probably from a cloth used to wrap the ko [ge] 戈. One peculiarity on the inscribed side is the absence of a median ridge; instead, there is a plateau like central area which is stepped rather than beveled at the edges.
While jades with incised inscriptions are extremely rare, they are not unknown in the archaeological context; for example, a late Shang 商 ko [ge] 戈 with a Shang 商 inscription was found at Ch'ing yang [Qingyang] 慶陽, Kansu [Gansu] 甘肅 (Qingyang diqu bowuguan 慶陽地區博物館, "Gansu Qingyang faxian shangdai yuge 甘肅慶陽發現商代玉戈," Wenwu 文物 1979.2, p. 93).
10. (Thomas Lawton, May 1987) P'ang Huai ching [Pang Huaijing] 龐懷靖 discusses the Freer jade blade in an article titled "Pa T'ai pao yu ke [Ba Taibao yuge] 跋太保玉戈," in K'ao-ku yu wen-wu [Kaogu yu wenwu] 考古與文物 1986.1, pp. 70--73. P'ang [Pang] 龐 begins his article with the statement that he had seen a rubbing of the jade bearing the title "Shao-kung yu-tao t'u [Shaogong yudao tu] 召公玉刀圖 (Illustration of the jade blade of the Duke of Shao 召)." The author points out that the rubbing actually is of a jade blade with an inscription that includes the title "T'ai pao yu ko [Taibao yuge] 太保玉戈 (Jade dagger axe of the Grand Protector)." There is a long discussion of the identity of the Duke of Shao 召 and the T'ai pao [Taibao] 太保, in which P'ang [Pang] 龐 recounts the versions of different scholars. The essential details are that, traditionally, the Grand Protector was the Duke of Shao 召, whose given name was Shih [Shi] 奭. The precise familial relationship between the Duke of Shao 召 and the Duke of Chou [Zhou] 周 at the beginning of the Western Chou [Zhou] 周 period remains uncertain. The Shih-chi [Shiji] 史記, 34: 1a, merely records that Shih's [Shi] 奭 surname, Chi [Ji] 姬, was the same as that of the Chou [Zhou] 周 royal family. Huang fu Mi 皇甫謐 (215--282 CE), in his Ti-wang shih-chi [Diwang shiji] 帝王世紀, states that Shih [Shi] 奭 was a son of Wen Wang 文王 but born of a concubine. Other sources suggest that Shih [Shi] 奭 belonged to a branch of the Chou [Zhou] 周 royal family. According to traditional literature, when Wu Wang 武王 defeated Chou [Zhou] 紂, the last ruler of Shang 商 (ca. 1050 BCE), he enfeoffed Shih [Shi] 奭 as Duke of Shao 召, investing him with the principality of Yen [Yan] 燕. Thus, Shih [Shi] 奭 became one of three San-kung [San gong] 三公, "Three Dukes," the highest ranking office of the Chou [Zhou] 周 dynasty beneath that of the King.
P'ang [Pang] 龐 also notes that the jade blade was acquired by Wu Ching-t'ing [Wu Jingting] 武敬亭 in the 28th year of the Kuang hsu [Guangxu] 光緒 period (1902--1903), when it was unearthed during renovations of the Shao kung ts'e [Shaogong ci] 召公祠 (Shrine of the Duke of Shao 召), eight Li 里 southwest of Chi ch'eng [Qicheng] 歧城, in Shensi [Shaanxi] 陝西 province. At the time, the Dowager Empress was in exile in Sian [Xi'an] 西安, following her precipitous flight from Beijing 北京 after the defeat of the Boxers by the armies of eight allied powers.
According to P'ang [Pang] 龐, another jade blade, without an inscription, but of the same size and type as the Freer example, was found at the same time. The present whereabouts of the second jade blade is uncertain.
In the line drawing that illustrates P'ang [Pang] 龐's article, a vertical, rectilinear form projects from the lower portion of the jade blade. Examination of the Freer jade reveals an unusually smooth area at the point where that pendant form would have appeared. Evidently the pendant was broken off at some time before the jade blade was acquired by Charles Lang Freer in 1919.
11. (Stephen Allee per Keith Wilson, June 12, 2008) As per Jenny F. So, Jade Project Database, changed Period from "Shang 商" to "Late Shang 商--early Zhou 周"; changed Date from (12th--11th century BCE) to (1300--1000 BCE); changed Object Name from "Blade (ge 戈)" to "Ceremonial object"; changed Title from "Large emblematic weapon of the type ko [ge] 戈 (broken in two and mended; one chip missing)" to "Dagger-axe (ge 戈)." Added Previous owner to Constituents (Ex-collection Duanfang 端方, 1861--1911). 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.
12. (Jeffrey Smith per Keith Wilson, July 17, 2008) Ceremonial object added as secondary classification.
13. (Susan Kitsoulis per Keith Wilson, June 10, 2010) Period changed from "Late Shang 商 to early Zhou 周dynasty" to "Erlitou 二里頭 period or Shang 商 dynasty"; date from "1300--1000 BCE" to "ca. 1800--1090 BCE"; added "Probably Henan 河南 province" to Geographical location.
14. (Susan Kitsoulis per label text from exhibition of Ancient Chinese Jades and Bronzes, Freer Gallery of Art, November 20, 2010) Added "probably Henan 河南 province" to geographic location. Added "early Shang 商 dynasty" to Period one. Title changed from "Ceremonial object" to "Ceremonial halberd."
15. (Najiba Choudhury per Keith Wilson, August 16, 2017) Title changed from "Dagger-axe (ge)" to "Dagger axe (ge 戈)"; Date changed from "ca. 1800-ca.1050 BCE" to "ca. 2000-ca. 1400 BCE"; and Dimensions changed from "H x W x D: 67.1 x 10.2 x 0.6 cm (26 7/16 x 4 x 1/4 in)" to "H x W x D: 10.2 x 67.1 x 0.6 cm (4 x 26 7/16 x 1/4 in)".
16. (Najiba Choudhury per Keith Wilson, December 21, 2018) Added Chinese Translation by Jingmin Zhang; changed Period One from "Erlitou period to early Shang dynasty" to "Erlitou culture or early Shang dynasty"; removed the following from the Description field, "Large emblematic weapon of the type "ge." Broken in two and mended; one chip missing. Mottled gray, black, and brown nephrite, somewhat translucen. Decorative band of parallel and criss-cross lines engraved on the butt of the blade. A conical perforation in the tang. Inscription of 30 characters. Wooden box".
Also added the following to the Description field: "Large emblematic weapon of the type ko [ge] 戈 (Broken in two and mended; one chip missing). Mottled gray, black and brownish nephrite, somewhat translucent; decorative band of parallel and criss cross lines engraved on the butt of the blade; a conical perforation in the tang; inscription of thirty characters. Acquired with a wooden box, lid now lost."