Dagger-axe (ge) with dragons

Historical period(s)
early Anyang period, Late Shang dynasty, ca. 1200 BCE
Bronze with turquoise inlay
H x W x D: 10.5 × 41 × 3.9 cm (4 1/8 × 16 1/8 × 1 9/16 in)
China, probably Henan province, Anyang
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Sackler Gallery 24a: Anyang: China's Ancient City of Kings
Ceremonial Object, Metalwork

Ceremonial object: dagger-axe (ge)

Anyang period (ca. 1300 - ca. 1050 BCE), China

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," C. T. Loo & Frank Caro Archive, Musée Guimet, Paris, 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) and Custodian(s)

C.T. Loo & Company 1914-1948


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
  • Sueji Umehara. Yin hsu: Ancient Capital of the Shang Dynasty at An-yang. Tokyo. pl. 33.
  • Chugoku bijutsu [Chinese Art in Western Collections]. 5 vols., Tokyo, 1972-1973. vol. 4: fig. 88a.
  • Joe Dan Lowry, Joe P. Lowry. Turquoise: The World Story of a Fascinating Gemstone. Layton, Utah. p. 56.
  • Chinese Art Society of America. Chinese Art Recently Acquired by American Museums. vol. 5 Honolulu. p. 73, fig. 10.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

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