The most impressive features of this arresting yue 鉞 axe are the perfection of the carving, the extremely fine polish and the colours of the richly textured nephrite. The yue has a marked trapezoidal profile with a clean-cut straight butt, balanced by the elegantly curved cutting edge. In the top centre there is a fastening hole, drilled from both sides, with a ridge in the middle: the inside of the hole was left unpolished, in sharp contrast with the perfect finish of the rest of the axe. The lateral, sloping sides and the cutting edge have been thinned, rendering the surfaces slightly convex, though the curvature is almost imperceptible. The surfaces are shiny, smooth and polished to an almost mirror-like high luster that gives this axe a rather dramatic appearance. The axe is carved from a richly textured green nephrite with a beautiful spectrum of colours that range from light green and russet to brown, black and white. One of the sides is reddish-brown, due to the high content of iron. The yue is rather thick and, under focused light, only the areas close to the thinned edges are translucent. Literature comparison/Archaeological sites: A similar, but slightly smaller axe, carved from a very similar quality of jade with the same neatly cut and highly polished butt, was offered at Christie’s London, King Street, sale 5889, on 6 November 2012, lot 74. This jade is published in F. Salviati, 4000 Years of Chinese Archaic Jades, Vienna 2017, no.75.
All jades in this catalogue have been professionally examined, authenticated and described by Prof. Fillipo Salviati. Professor Salviati teaches Chinese and Korean art at Sapienza University in Rome, in the Italian Institute of Oriental Studies. He is a world expert on archaic Chinese jades, having released multiple publications and being cited by renowned auction houses such as Sotheby’s.