Shang Dynasty, (1600 -1100 BCE)
Length: 32.4 cm.
Private Far Eastern Collector
Weisbrod Chinese Art, Ltd., New York, 2001.
Important North-American Collection
Exhibited & Published:
Archetypes and Archaism, Spring 2001, An Exhibition, number 1, Weisbrod Chinese Art, Ltd., New York.
The color of the jade on one side shades from deep reddish brown to slate blue highlights and white areas of calcification. The other side is predominantly white and gray. Beveled on either side, the asymmetrical, slightly curved blade has a peaked ridge running the length of the blade. A Conical hole is drilled though the blade from one side. The tang indents slightly from the blade. Five pairs of ridges, extending beyond the butt, are carved along the rear half of the tang extending from two parallel lines incised across the tang.
Ge blades, also known as hallberds, were originally made in bronze and used as weapons and sacrificial tools. Jade blades were used only during ritual ceremonies, as the stone was too brittle for real sacrificial use. A bronze ge, was pinned to a wool handle through the hole in the tang. Holes drilled into this jade model were not necessarily for attachment, placed in different positions, sometimes in multiples.
On some rare examples , such as the present ge, the hole was drilled into the blade itself rather than the tang. Its purpose is not known. These holes seem to be a vestige from the bronze blade, a reference to where the shape and symbolism originated, rather than a useful element of the jade ge. Ownership of the jade blades symbolized power, authority, and wealth.
A very similar ge blade with a grooved tang and a hole drilled into the blade itslef is in the Winthrop Collection at the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, published in Loehr, 1975, fig. 37. A similar blade without a perforation, dated by the author to the late Neothilic Erlitou period (ca 1900-1600), is the Peony Collection, see Forsyth, 1994 p.164, no. 75.