Description: Jade. China, Late Neolithic period, Qijia culture, c.2200-1900 BC
This axe has a slightly tapering profile, with a gently curved cutting edge and the corners of the butt rounded: the centrally positioned hole, which was used to fasten the blade to a handle with cords, has been drilled from one side only of the jade: traces of tool marks are clearly visible on the wall of the hole.
The axe is carved from a bi-coloured, semi-translucent jade, typical of North-west China. The jade is mostly brown, with different hues due to the more or less strong presence of iron within the mineral: some greyish shades can also be seen near the edge of the axe. Part of the top section, the sides and a central, large vein which runs diagonally from the hole are white: in these areas the jade is much purer and looks transparent when the light filters through the stone. The most remarkable feature of this axe is actually the radical change which occurs when the jade is exposed to light: from opaque and almost dull, the stone turns translucent and brilliant; the brown and reddish areas become semi-transparent and yellow-gold coloured, while the white areas, free from inclusions and impurities, are fully translucent.
Two comparable multi-coloured axes of similar shape but different sizes were presented by Gallery Zacke in the past, catalogue numbers AB916083 and AK1114-065, descriptions and images at the following links:
玉鉞- 新石器時代晚期，齊家文化, 公元前2200-1900
长 16.6 厘米. 宽 8.7 厘米
LENGTH 16.6 CM - WIDTH 8.7 CM
From an Italian collection
Notes: All jades in this catalogue will soon be published in the forthcoming jade book by FILIPPO SALVIATI: "THE MYSTERIOUS STONE - Archaic and Antique Chinese Jades from Neolithic to Han from Private Collections".
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Professor Salviati teaches Chinese Art at the University "La Sapienza" in Rome, Faculty of Oriental Studies, and is one of the world's most recognized jade experts, specialized in archaic jades until the Song Dynasty. Hi-resolution pictures of all jades are to be found in our web-site, and can be enlarged so that handwork, age-related traces of weathering, as well as colors are very well recognizable.