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The Stone Implements of the Maori


We occasionally note a form of stone adze so thin throughout the entire length that such can only have been used for light work. Of the specimens we propose to note, one has so thin a blade that it could only have been used for light finishing-work (see Fig. 69, page 283Plate X). This specimen is 6½ in. long, 2⅝ in. wide at the cutting-edge, and 1⅜ in. at the poll. Its thickest part is at the butt end, where it is ⅞ in., from which it thins down to a trifle over ½ in. at the shoulder. The bevel is long and the blade unusually thin, its angle of inclination being 20°, save at the cutting-edge, where it is 35°. Several small pieces have been chipped off the cutting-edge since the blade was ground. Its weight is 12 oz. Material, aphanite.

Another thin adze of similar form is shown in Fig. 70, Plate XL It is 7⅞ in. long, 2¼ in. wide at the cutting-edge, and 1½ in. at the butt end. It preserves a thickness of ⅝ in. from the shoulder back to within a short distance of the poll, where it thins off somewhat. The back is slightly concave longitudinally, and the face convex. The sides are straight and the back flat transversely, an unusual thing. Thus the longitudinal edges of the back are rectangular, which is rarely seen, save in diminutive forms. This implement is beautifully formed and ground, presenting a perfectly smooth surface all over, save a little bruising to roughen the face-edges at the butt end for the accommodation of the lashing. Its weight is 14 oz. The angle of inclination of the blade is but 20° for most of its length, but, as is usual, it is more abrupt close to the cutting-edge, where it increases to about 35° to 40°. The stone is fine black aphanite. Franklyn Flat.

In Fig. 71, Plate XVII, we see yet another of these thin forms, which is 8¾ in. long, but weighs only 16 oz., an exceptionally light weight for an adze of this length. It is 2½ in. wide at the cutting-edge, and 1½ in. at the poll. Its thickness is but ⅝ in. on the average. Angle of blade, 40° to 20°. The stone of which this implement is made is a pale-green aphanite or mudstone, with black inclusions.

Yet another unusually thin specimen is seen in Fig. 71c, Plate XXIII, which illustration is taken from a cast. Its thinness and the low angle of its blade show that it cannot have been used for any heavy work. This tool is essentially an adze, and resembles Fig. 23, Plate VI, in form. It is 10½ in. in length and 3 in. wide at its widest part, which is at the shoulder-line, the rounded cutting-edge being slightly narrower. From the shoulder-line the width decreases in a uniform manner backward to the rounded and symmetrical poll, the latter a somewhat uncommon feature in Maori stone adzes. The sides of this implement are but ¾ in. in thickness, which, however, increases to slightly over 1 in. in the axial centre, inasmuch as both face and back are convex transversely. The peculiar form of the shoulder, which shows a high curved supplementary ridge, increases the thickness at that part to 1¼ in. The angle of the blade page 284is about 35° near the cutting-edge, and but little over 20° higher up. The back of the blade is carried up to the summit of the supplementary ridge, which has a curious effect not often seen in New Zealand forms, and which is emphasized by the semicircular form of the ridge. The whole implement is well fashioned, and is ground to an even surface in every part.

In Fig. 71b, Plate XXII, we see one of the thinnest of large-sized forms that has been collected. Its other peculiarities are the width of the blade and its short bevel. Its length is 13 in.; width across the cutting-edge, 4⅛ in., whence it narrows back to 2⅛ in. at the poll. Thickness behind shoulder, 13/16 in.; at butt end, 1 3/16 in. This shows a remarkable thinness in so large a tool, and such thinness is preserved throughout its length in an unusual manner. It is probable that tools of this type were made for some special purpose. Its thinness and width of blade suggests the idea that it was used for finishing off the surface of a hewn slab, as explained by Te Whatahoro, though the angle of the blade at and near the cutting-edge (nearly 60°) seems high for such a purpose. Both face and back of this adze are unusually straight and flat, both longitudinal and transverse convexity being reduced to a minimum. The same remarks may be applied to the sides, the longitudinal edges of which are but little rounded. The poll is rounded and even. The face has been ground smooth, but the back and sides have been only half-finished, although the surfaces are even. The length of the blade-bevel is under 1 in., and the shoulder well defined. Weight, 5 lb. Material, a close-grained diorite, with greenish specks. Compare this item with Fig. 49, Plate XL This item is in the Buller Collection, lately presented to the Museum.

In Fig. 71a, Plate XXIX, we have an item notable for its thinness, short blade-bevel, and also somewhat for its width. This remarkably well-finished tool is 9½ in. long, and its thickness at no part exceeds 1 in. Width across cutting-edge, 3⅜ in., thence narrowing uniformly to a narrow and rounded poll. Weight, 2½ lb. Material, black aphanite, with veins. This implement, which is in the Buller Collection lately presented to the Dominion Museum, is of practically perfect finish, save for a small gap in one of its longitudinal edges, apparently so marred since the tool was ground. The sides fall in toward the back, which is ½ in. narrower than the face. The convexity, longitudinal and transverse, of face and back is reduced to a minimum, thus imparting an unusually flat appearance to this specimen. The blade-bevel is short, 1¼ in. from cutting-edge to shoulder, and the angle thereof about 50° near the point. All surfaces of this tool have been ground to a smooth finish; though why that part covered page 285by the lashing should be so treated it is impossible to say, for it would certainly grip much better on a rough surface.

Another thin type is noted among the long narrow forms. See also the description of toki pou tangata.

A somewhat thicker form than the last-described one is 11 in. long, 3⅞ in. wide at the cutting-edge, and 2½ in. at the butt end. The back is ⅝ in. narrower than the face. The blade is over 3 in. long, and shows an angle of 30° near the cutting-edge, dropping to 18° higher up.

A specimen 7¾ in. long is but ½ in. in thickness. Another, 8 in. in length, is slightly less than ½ in. in thickness.

A rough piece of nephrite, 10 in. long, 4¼ in. wide, and dropping to 2 in. at the poll, is 1 in. thick, and has a cutting-edge ground on one end, the angle of which is but 15°.