Dagger-axe (ge 戈), fragment reworked

Ceremonial weapon: Short, broad blade of mottled gray and gray green nephrite; weapon type; one conical perforation pierced from both sides.

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Artist: Erlitou culture δΊŒι‡Œι ­ (ca. 2000-1600 BCE)
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 β€” Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Ceremonial Object, Jade

Ceremonial object: dagger-axe (ge)

China, Erligang period (ca. 1500 - ca. 1300 BCE)

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) and Custodian(s)

C.T. Loo & Company 1914-1948


Ceremonial weapon: Short, broad blade of mottled gray and gray green nephrite; weapon type; one conical perforation pierced from both sides.


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
  • J. Keith Wilson, Jingmin Zhang. Jades for Life and Death. .
  • Grace Dunham Guest, Archibald Gibson Wenley. Annotated Outlines of the History of Chinese Arts. Washington, 1949. p. 6.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Jades for Life and Death
Google Cultural Institute
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