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Ge (halberd)


Artwork Details

Ge (halberd)
1600 BCE - 1100 BCE
green nephrite with mottling
14 3/8 in. x 3 1/16 in. x 3/16 in. ( 36.5 cm x 7.7 cm x 0.5 cm )
Museum purchase from the collection of Max Loehr


Shang lapidaries—master workers of nephrite jade and other hard stones l—inherited their craft from their Neolithic predecessors. Neolithic jades fall into two categories: ornaments used by the ruling elite such as pendants, belt hooks, and bracelets and implements for ceremonial or ritual use such as bi disc and cong tube. Shang jades fellow this basic repertoire of Neolithic forms but added decorative flourishes such as serration along the contours of objects, incised geometric designs, and, sometimes, inlaid bronze work. The two ceremonial halberds shown here, is, however, a Shang jade form without Neolithic precedent. It is based on a bronze weapon called ge developed during the Shang period. This jade form remained unchanged in style throughout much of the dynasty, due to its ritual use and the difficulty of carving hard stones.
(Label for UMMA Chinese Gallery Opening Rotation, March 2009)

Subject Matter:

jade ge dagger-axe or halberd used for for ceremonial display by Shang (circa 16th to 11th century B.C.) elite in Bronze Age China, often discovered as grave goods in elite burials of the Late Shang period, along with bronze halberds and other military hardware associated with chariot warfare. It was probably once hafted to a lacquered wooden handle as part of the elite paraphernalia

Physical Description:

the ceremonial degger-axe replicate in jade a common bronze weapon of the Shang dynasty called ge. It has a wide blade with a sharp point at one end and a plain, rectangular tang on the other.

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