Title:Chang ScepterArtist:Artist UnknownDate:Shang dynastyCreation Place:Asia, ChinaCredit Line:Bequest of Alfred F. PillsburyAccession Number:50.46.392
The innately beautiful bluish-green color of this ritual scepter, with its russet inclusions combines with a simplicity and elegance of form to elevate this ancient object to a realm of aesthetic grace that is timeless. Ceremonial weapons and implements represent some of the earliest Chinese jades as the origins of this type of object lies in the Neolithic period. It was largely during the early Bronze Age however, in Shang and Western Chou, that some utilitarian weapon types evolved into a limited group of particular shapes executed in precious jade that held ritual significance in important political and social ceremonies. Most of the ceremonial jade scepters that have survived were buried in tombs suggesting they also held significance for the spirit in the afterlife. Ancient bronze inscriptions record the use of land and jade as gifts between rulers and dependents. It is possible that the Chang scepters this type may have been part of the insignia used in rites connected with the land.