1. (Thomas Lawton, 1985) Trapezoidal blade with the two lateral edges straight. The lower, or cutting edge, is beveled. Parallel to the back edge are two conical perforations. A smaller perforation, perhaps meant for suspension, is drilled from the reverse side at one end of the blade. A smaller, incomplete, perforation appears just below the suspension hole. Some damage to one end of the blade interrupts its trapezoidal form. The abstract designs worked into both sides of the blade at the undamaged shorter end are related to those found on late Neolithic objects recently unearthed in the People's Republic of China.
In 1972, Liu Dunyuan 劉敦願 published an article (Liu Tun-yuan [Liu Dunyuan] 劉敦願, "Chi Liang-ch'eng chen i-chih fa-hsien ti liang chien shih-ch'I [Ji Liangcheng zhen yizhi faxian de liangjian shiqi] 記兩城鎮遺址發現的兩件石器," K'ao ku [Kaogu] 考古 1972.4, pp. 56--57, figs. 1--2) describing a stone chisel he had seen in 1963. The chisel is now in the Shandong 山東 Provincial Museum at Jinan 濟南. Measuring 18 cm in length, the chisel is rectangular in shape, with flat surfaces becoming gradually thinner in cross section toward the beveled cutting edge. The chisel is broken into two pieces. The upper edge of the chisel measures 4.5 cm in width and is 0.85 cm thick; the lower edge is 4.9 cm in width and 0.6 cm thick. Blackish-green in color, the stone resembles jade.
Of particular interest are the masks incised into either side of the thick end of the chisel. Dominated by pairs of eyes and surprisingly graceful abstract patterns, the masks are extremely sophisticated, especially in view of the fact that Liu Dunyuan 劉敦願 notes that the chisel should date from the Shandong 山東 Longshan 龍山 Neolithic period (i.e. ca. 2000 BCE). He records that the chisel was found at Rizhao 日照, Liangcheng 兩城, in Shandong 山東 province.
The sophistication of Longshan 龍山 artifacts from Shandong 山東 is of particular interest because of the growing awareness of the close relationship between the Longshan 龍山 culture of that area and the emerging early bronze cultures in the Central Plain. The decoration on the stone chisel from Rizhao 日照 can be related to that on a number of archaeologically unattested jade pieces, such as the Sackler blade.
The size of the Sackler blade also has a parallel in a jade piece unearthed in a late Neolithic context at Rizhao 日照, Liangcheng 兩城, in Shandong 山東. Liu Dunyuan 劉敦願 has discussed that trapezoidal-shaped jade (Liu Tun-yuan [Liu Dunyuan] 劉敦願, "Jih-chao Liang-ch'eng chen Lung-shan wen-hua i-chih tiao-ch'a [Rizhao Liangcheng zhen Longshan wenhua yizhi diaocha] 日照兩城鎮龍山文化遺址調查," K'ao ku hsueh pao [Kaogu xuebao] 考古學報 1958.1, pp. 29--30, fig. 4:13, pl. 3:5). At its widest points the jade from Rizhao 日照 measures 26 cm x 12.4 cm. Given the lack of finish on the surface, Liu suggests that the jade may be incomplete, although its large size and thinness make it clear that it was not meant for any practical function, such as a knife or a tool.
2. (Thomas Lawton, September 1987) Exhibition In Praise of Ancestors label text; moved to label field.
3. (Jeffrey Smith per Keith Wilson, July 8, 2008) Weapon and Armament added as secondary classification.
4. (Susan Kitsoulis per Keith Wilson, April 2, 2010) Object name changed from "Weapon: knife" to "Ceremonial object"; title from "Knife (Dao 刀)" to "Harvesting knife (hu 笏), fragment."
5. (Jeffrey Smith per Janet Douglas, June 17, 2010) Nephrite added as modifier to existing medium of "jade" based on conservation analysis.
6. (Jeffrey Smith per Keith Wilson, April 14, 2016) Period changed from Neolithic period to Late Neolithic period.
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