Pendant in the form of a turtle

Historical period(s)
Anyang period, Late Shang dynasty, ca. 1250-ca. 1050 BCE
Jade (serpentine)
H x W x D: 2.1 × 3.3 × 0.6 cm (13/16 × 1 5/16 × 1/4 in)
China, probably Henan province, Anyang
Credit Line
The Dr. Paul Singer Collection of Chinese Art of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; a joint gift of the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, Paul Singer, the AMS Foundation for the Arts, Sciences, and Humanities, and the Children of Arthur M. Sackler
Arthur M. Sackler Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Sackler Gallery 24b: Anyang: China's Ancient City of Kings
Jade, Jewelry and Ornament


Anyang period (ca. 1300 - ca. 1050 BCE), China, Paul Singer collection, turtle

As early as 1928
Likely discovered at archeological sites in Loyang, Honan Province, China [1]

To 1948
Naiji Zhang (1899–1948), Shanghai, China then New York, NY [2]

1948 to 1954
Mei Chien Zhang (1901–c.1955), New York, NY inherited upon her husband’s death [3]

1954 to 1958
J. T. Tai & Company, New York, NY likely purchased from ZHANG Mei Chien during July 1954 in New York, NY [4]

1958 to 1997
Dr. Paul Singer, Summit, NJ, purchased from J. T. Tai & Company on July 1, 1958 or November 11, 1958 in New York, NY [5]

From 1997 to 1999
In the custody of Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, upon death of Paul Singer in 1/1997 and a loan agreement in 2/1997 [6]

From 1999
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, gift of the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, Paul Singer, the AMS Foundation for the Arts, Sciences, and Humanities, and the Children of Arthur M. Sackler [7]


[1] Object published in Archaic Chinese Jades: Special Exhibition (Philadelphia: The University Museum, February 1940), cat. 78. Catalogue entry notes discovery site. Excavations at Anyang began in 1928.

[2] Naiji Zhang (also known as N.C. Chang) was a businessman, born to a prestigious family in Zhejiang that made their wealth in the silk and salt industries. He collected ancient Chinese art objects and Chinese coins. Zhang amassed his collection whilst living in Shanghai, before leaving for America in 1938, and acquired his objects onsite of archeological excavations (see: Alfred Salmony, Chinese Jade through the Wei Dynasty. New York: The Ronald Press Company, 1963: 115.).

Zhang lent his collection anonymously to Archaic Chinese Jades: Special Exhibition. We know his identity through letters housed in the Department of Archives, The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (see: letter, C. T. Loo to Horace Jayne, 25 October 1939 and letter, from C. T. Loo to Horace Jayne, 16 December 1939), copies in FǀS COM provenance files. The exhibition was entirely organized by C. T. Loo & Company, New York. Letters exchanged between C. T. Loo and the director of The University Museum, Mr. Horace H.F. Jayne, reveal that Zhang Naiji owned the objects and C. T. Loo & Company had the collection on consignment (see: letter, from C. T. Loo to Horace Jayne, 28 May 1939 and letter, from C. T. Loo to Horace Jayne, 23 October 1940, copies on COM provenance files). C. T. Loo & Company kept the jade collection on consignment from 1940 through Zhang’s death in 1948, inventorying the pieces with a prefix “J” and labeling each item as “Chang Collection.”

[3] Mei Chien Zhang, Naiji Zhang’s wife, assumed ownership upon his death in 1948. She sold several pieces from her husband’s collection to both C. T. Loo & Company (which later operated as Frank Caro Chinese Art) and J. T. Tai & Company. She sold to J. T. Tai & Company in July 1954 (for example, see J. T. Tai & Company Stock Record YT 886 and YT 895, copies in COM provenance files).

[4] See note 3. There are two receipts from J. T. Tai & Company addressed to Dr. Paul Singer mentioning jade turtles, one invoice dated July 1, 1958 with object YT 1161, “Old Jade Tortoise.” The other receipt, November 8, 1958, includes YT 564, “jade turtle”; copies located in object file, originals located in FǀS Archives, Paul Singer Papers, box 17, folder 17.

[5] The object was included in exhibitions of Paul Singer’s collection in the 1960s and 1970s, see Animal Forms in Chinese Art (New York, Staten Island Museum, September 23 – November 4, 1962), cat. 12; Max Loehr, Relics of Ancient China (New York, The Asia Society, 1965), p. cat. 28 (ill.); Ruth Spelman, The Arts of China: A Retrospective (Greenvale, L.I., N.C.: W. Post Art Gallery, Long Island University, February 4-March 27, 1977), cat. 19 (ill.).

Paul Singer mentioned in his memoirs, completed in 1993, that he acquired 17 jades with Zhang provenance through J. T. Tai of New York, see Paul Singer, “Reminiscences of a Transient Custodian,” ms., Paul Singer Papers, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives, p. 83-84.

The collection of Chinese art and antiquities assembled by Paul Singer over time was purchased by him on behalf of Arthur M. Sackler, Jillian Sackler, The Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, the AMS Foundation for the Arts, Sciences and Humanities and later was transferred to the children of Arthur M. Sackler.

[6] The Dr. Paul Singer Collection of Chinese Art came into the custody of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, upon Paul Singer’s death in 1/1997 and a loan agreement in 2/1997

[7] See “The Dr. Paul Singer Collection of Chinese Art Gift Agreement,” March 1999, FǀS COM Office. The object was formally accessioned into the museum collection in 2012. Upon Paul Singer’s death in January 1997, his collection was transferred to the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery by order of the Executors of the Estate under a loan agreement signed on February 1997. Shortly thereafter, the Sackler Gallery was vested with full ownership and title to the collection in full agreement by the Sackler Foundations and Sackler family members. The formal accession of the Singer collection was completed in 2012.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Zhang Naiji 1899-1948
Zhang Mei Chien 1900-1998
Dr. Paul Singer 1904-1997
C.T. Loo & Company 1914-1948
J.T. Tai & Co. established in 1950

Published References
  • J. Keith Wilson, Jingmin Zhang. Jades for Life and Death. .
  • Max Loehr. Relics of Ancient China: From the Collection of Dr. Paul Singer. Exh. cat. New York. cat. 28.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Jades for Life and Death
Google Cultural Institute
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