Lot 814. A finely cast bronze dagger, Northwest China, 7th-6th century BC. Estimate USD 5,000 - USD 7,000 © Christie's Images Ltd 2017.

The tapering blade issues from a taotie mask that forms the guard below the hollow-cast hilt decorated on each side with eight panels of leiwen separated in the center by narrow slits, and on the narrow sides and end of the butt with arrow-shaped slits. 10 ¾ in. (27.2 cm) long

ProvenanceChristie’s New York, 1 December 1988, lot 141.
The Erwin Harris Collection, Miami, Florida.

LiteratureJ. F. So and E. C. Bunker, Traders and Raiders on China's Northern Frontier, Washington D.C., Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, 1995, p. 128, no. 45.

NoteIn Traders and Raiders on Chinas Northern Frontier, J. F. So suggests, p. 128, that the slits in the hilt would have allowed “silk or fabric to be wrapped through and around them for improved grip,” and notes that an identical hilt for a cast-iron blade of 7th-6th century date found at Jingjiazhuang, Lingtai Xian, Gansu province, illustrated in Kaogu 1981:4, pl. 5.10, p. 299, fig. 2.7, was apparently wrapped in silk.

Christie's. The Harris Collection: Important Early Chinese Art, 16 March 2017, New York, Rockefeller Center