This jade is published in Filippo Salviati 4000 YEARS OF CHINESE ARCHAIC JADES Edition Zacke, Vienna 2017, no. 323
玉劍珌- 西漢, 公元前2世紀-前1世紀
This trapezoidal jade with the sides gently bending inwards is another sword ornament typical of the Han dynasty. It was used to protect the tip of the iron sword which was inserted into the central hole drilled into one of the flat extremities of the ornament. The elliptical cross-section is typical of this type of sword ornament, as are the elegant patterns carved on both sides of the object. These geometric motifs are formed by a series of “T”-shaped elements or square scrolls that are symmetrically organized on the surface of the chape and restricted within two clearly marked registers. The contour of each single element is stressed by tiny lines incised on the jade which balance the “T”-shaped elements carved in low relief, creating a subtle interplay of forms on each of the two sides. Actually, these abstract motifs are two highly stylized taotie masks, which on similar items are often represented in their entirety. The colour of the translucent jade is a pale celadon green: the two sides of the ornament present signs of alteration in the form of whitish areas, while the brown patch which is visible on one of the two sides near the top border is generated by inclusions in the stone.
A scabbard chape decorated with a similar motif is illustrated in Salviati, Radiant Stones, no. 135. Several comparable scabbard chapes in the Freer/Sackler Galleries (acc. nos. F1939.16, S1987.491, S1987.554, S1987.854). See also the one from the Alfred F. Pillsbury (1869-1950) collection in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, acc. no.50.46.291.
Provenance: From an old Austrian-Hungarian collection