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Sword guard
Place of Origin: China
Historical Period: Han dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE)
Materials: Nephrite
Dimensions: L. 1 1/2 in x W. 1 in
Credit Line: The Avery Brundage Collection
Department: Chinese Art
Collection: Jade And Stones
Object Number: B60J797
On Display: No

Description

Label:

Jade was so highly valued by the Chinese that when an object was broken, the pieces were often re-cut to be employed in another fashion. That is probably the case with this sword slide or guard. The decoration on the front surface is consistent with a late Warring States or early Western Han date. It features linked comma patterns and other curvilinear devices, some with fine parallel lines incised over them. Also typical of the period, the surface is highly polished.

However, the back section of the piece is in an entirely different. It is crudely finished with only cursory lines incised to suggest a vague reference to the earlier designs. It is also far to round in shape to have served successfully as a sword slide. It has been suggested that this piece is a fragment that was re-cut sometime shortly after the end of the Han dynasty into a traditional shape. The exact date of the re-cutting cannot be precisely determined but it might be as early as the third or fourth century. The exact nature of the original piece is hard to determine. It was not much wider than its current form but must have been somewhat longer. At one end are the eyebrows, eyes, and the beginnings of the snout of a dragon. The piece must have been long enough to accommodate the remainder of the dragon and perhaps more. It was also fairly thick.

This piece is cut from grayish tan Khotan jade with darker cloudy areas at one end. Both the level of finish and polish on the front side are very high. The back is very rough and is not polished. Staining and adhesions of iron imprinted with textile patterns on the back of this piece indicate that it served as a fitting for an iron sword when it was buried and that it was a treasured piece.

1. Zhongguo Yuqi Chuanji, vol 3, p. 30, plate 49


More Information

Exhibition History: "Chinese Jade: Stone of Immortality", Cernuschi Museum, France, 9/26/1997 - 1/4/1998
Label:

Jade was so highly valued by the Chinese that when an object was broken, the pieces were often re-cut to be employed in another fashion. That is probably the case with this sword slide or guard. The decoration on the front surface is consistent with a late Warring States or early Western Han date. It features linked comma patterns and other curvilinear devices, some with fine parallel lines incised over them. Also typical of the period, the surface is highly polished.

However, the back section of the piece is in an entirely different. It is crudely finished with only cursory lines incised to suggest a vague reference to the earlier designs. It is also far to round in shape to have served successfully as a sword slide. It has been suggested that this piece is a fragment that was re-cut sometime shortly after the end of the Han dynasty into a traditional shape. The exact date of the re-cutting cannot be precisely determined but it might be as early as the third or fourth century. The exact nature of the original piece is hard to determine. It was not much wider than its current form but must have been somewhat longer. At one end are the eyebrows, eyes, and the beginnings of the snout of a dragon. The piece must have been long enough to accommodate the remainder of the dragon and perhaps more. It was also fairly thick.

This piece is cut from grayish tan Khotan jade with darker cloudy areas at one end. Both the level of finish and polish on the front side are very high. The back is very rough and is not polished. Staining and adhesions of iron imprinted with textile patterns on the back of this piece indicate that it served as a fitting for an iron sword when it was buried and that it was a treasured piece.

1. Zhongguo Yuqi Chuanji, vol 3, p. 30, plate 49


Exhibition History: "Chinese Jade: Stone of Immortality", Cernuschi Museum, France, 9/26/1997 - 1/4/1998