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The Stone Implements of the Maori

Toki Pou Tangata and Perforated Forms (Ceremonial Implements and — Weapons)

Toki Pou Tangata and Perforated Forms (Ceremonial Implements and

These have already been explained as to their appearance, mode of hafting, and use. The most highly prized ones were made of greenstone. When this was not obtainable, then ordinary stone was used. These implements were always made much thinner than adzes used as tools. They were not tools, hence thickness was not necessary. We term them "adzes" because they were hafted as adzes, but so thin is the implement that no bevel shoulder is prominent in the formation of the blade.

A specimen of these thin long implements in the Museum is made from a black hard aphanite (see Fig. 72, Plate XI). It is 13 in. long, 2⅞ in. wide at the cutting-edge, and 2 in. at the butt end, the diminution in width being uniform throughout the length. Its thickness is but ½ in. for two-thirds of its length, increasing to ⅝ in. toward the butt end. It is as thin as the specimens made of nephrite, and is a good example of the old-time semi-ceremonial implement and weapon. It could not have possessed any utility as a tool wherewith to dress timber, though doubtless useful wherewith to cleave the skull of an enemy. It is slightly thicker in the middle than near the sides, and weighs 16 oz. This specimen is well ground and has a smooth surface. The thickness measurements are those of the middle; the sides are but ¼ in. thick.

A wide example of this type of implement is of nephrite, and resembles in form the blade of a mere (see Fig. 73, Plate XVIII). It is 8¼ in. long, and weighs 1 lb. It is very thin and flat, with sharp longitudinal edges, almost as thin and sharp as the cutting-edge. It page 286is less than ½ in. thick at its thickest part. The segmental cutting-edge, with round corners, is so like that of a mere that, in conjunction with the lack of facets or blade, and the general form of the specimen, it gives the impression that it may be the blade of a broken mere. The specimen is polished smooth. At a point 5½ in. from the cutting-edge the two sides trend sharply inwards to a narrow poll ¾ in. across. One of these short straight slopes has been ground smooth; the other is but partially ground, and shows a surface of fracture. At its widest part, about 1 in. from the cutting-edge, its width is 3⅝ in. Near the poll are two small notches, one on either edge (or side, as in speaking of an ordinary adze), evidently formed to receive a cord. This would be a difficult item to lash on to a handle, on account of the sides sloping inward so rapidly to the poll. Longitudinal striæ are plainly visible on both faces, and the cutting-edge is as thin as that of some modern steel axes, not to mention the average firewood-axe.

Another thin specimen of nephrite adze of this class is 6 in. long, and weighs ½ lb. (see Fig. 74, Plate XIX). It is 3⅛ in. wide at the cutting-edge, and narrows to 1¾ in. at the butt end. It is a very flat and thin specimen, being but ⅜ in. thick. The face is somewhat convex longitudinally, but flat transversely; the back is flat both ways. The tool has not a symmetrical outline, as the two sides are not at the same angle with the axial centre of the implement, and, moreover, the cutting-edge is very oblique in regard to that axis. To form the keen cutting-edge, a short facet of ⅜ in. has been ground on the back, and a less pronounced one of ½ in. on the face. This tool is as thin as a steel form of the same size would be.

In Fig. 75, Plate XVIII, we see one of the best specimens in form and finish of this type of prized implements. It is 6¾ in. long, and weighs ½ lb. It is 2¼ in. wide at the cutting-edge, and decreases gradually in width back to the poll. It is 1⅝ in. wide within ¾ in. of the rounded poll. Thickness, about ¼ in. It has no bevel-facet, and the face of the implement is indistinguishable from the back. If it ever possessed a cutting-edge it has been ground down, and is now represented by a smooth end nearly 3/16 in. thick. It is quite eyident that this implement would be absolutely useless as a cutting-tool, but would be exceedingly useful as a weapon wherewith to cleave the skulls of one's enemies. Both faces are somewhat convex, both longitudinally and transversely, and the same may be said of the sides. Both sides show small longitudinal grooves, made when cutting the piece from the parent block of stone, which grooves, or saw-kerfs, have not been completely ground out. The poll is rounded and ground smooth, an item often omitted in the otherwise well-finished nephrite implements.

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A curious form of unfinished adze of nephrite in the Museum collection was probably intended for a toki pou tangata (see Fig. 76, Plate XIX). It is 9¼ in. long, and weighs 10 oz. Width across cutting-edge, 1¾ in.; across shoulder, 2 in.; across a point 1½ in. back from the shoulder, 2⅛ in., whence the sides converge to a sharp point, which, however, was not so fashioned by the neolithic artisan, but is the natural line of fracture of the stone when the original boulder was broken up. The only finished surface of this item is the back, which is ground to a smooth even finish. It is flat transversely and somewhat concave longitudinally. The face is uneven, but has been ground to a transversely rounded form. One side is ½ in. thick, and is a sawn face; the other side runs out to a point, and would need to be ground down considerably ere the adze would appear symmetrical. Within ¼ in. of this sharp-edged side is a curious saw-cut, which has been formed with an extremely sharp-edged hard cutter, the kerf being no wider than that made by a fine steel hand-saw. The corresponding saw-groove on the opposite side of the face is also visible in places, not being entirely ground out, thus illustrating how this thin piece of stone was cut off a block or slab of nephrite. These two grooves converge at the ends, but in the middle must have been about 1¼ in. apart when the piece was broken off, an unusually wide fracture in so small a piece. It may, however, be one of the original cuts made when dividing a large block. On the opposite side the grinder has only just commenced his work, and the saw-cut is well defined. A transverse groove runs across the face 1 in. from the cutting-edge, the purport of which is not clear; but another transverse cut, just begun, at 1¾ in. from the poll was evidently commenced with the idea of cutting off the pointed end, and forming a flat, shapely poll. The blade is thin and the cutting-edge straight, its angle of inclination being about 20°.

A cast of another of these semi-ceremonial implements from Otago is 9½ in. long, 2⅜ in. wide at the cutting-edge, and 1⅜ in. at the poll. It is 7/16 in. thick throughout its length, from shoulder to poll. It has a thin blade, with an angle of inclination of about 20°. One face is somewhat convex, and the other slightly concave, longitudinally.