Battle-Axe with Animal-Face Pattern

Late Shang Dynasty, 1100 B.C. - The Western Zhou Dynasty, 771 B.C.

Jinsha Site Museum

Jinsha Site Museum
Chengdu, China

This is grayish white jade, with yellow black and brown stains. This battle-axe resembles a flat stone ax, with symmetric patterns on both sides the patterns are divided into two parts. The upper part is mainly an animal face, with horns, eyes, ears, mouth, and three groups of teeth. Around the animal face are distorted monster signs and below the face are two parallel lines. In the lower part are five symmetric groups of gyral lines on both sides. The complex patterns on this object were carved with skillful craftsmanship in different styles, including double intaglio lines and extremely fine hairy lines, which were characteristic of jade articles from the late Shang Dynasty. The blank around the animal face were abraded to make the double lines look like relief patterns. Archaeologists found that the jade material of this object came from the mountains west of Sichuan Basin, indicating that the article was made locally, but the animal face pattern was typical decoration of bronzes in central China.

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