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The Stone Implements of the Maori

Form with Oblique Tang, or Butt End

Form with Oblique Tang, or Butt End

This is an unusual form among the stone adzes of New Zealand, but a very common type in the Hawaiian Isles, as Mr. Brigham has shown in his "Hawaiian Stone Implements." The advantage of having the tang or butt end set at a considerable angle to the rest of the implement is not obvious. It is highly improbable that any workman would make a stone tool to fit a peculiarity in the shape of the handle, rather would the wooden handle be made to fit the page 304stone tool. It is quite possible that these few local specimens owe their peculiar form to the shape of the blocked-out stone, either to it splitting along a natural line of cleavage or to unskilful chipping and flaking. This, however, is merely conjecture.

One of these specimens (fig. 90, Plate XVI) is 9½ in. long and 2⅝ in. wide at the cutting-edge, from which point it narrows to 1⅞ in. at the poll. The thickness at the shoulder is 1⅝ in., and 1½ in. at the angle where the tang commences. This tang, or butt end, is not so thick, running from 1¼ in. to 1⅝ in. The blade is thick, but well formed and ground, with a flawless cutting-edge. The sides and face of this implement are partially ground, but the back is still untouched by the grinder, being in a roughly chipped state. The back is deeply concave lengthwise, and flat transversely. The face is slightly convex longitudinally from the cutting-edge to the angle formed by the junction of the tang and the main part of the adze. The side view shows the extent of this angle. The stone is a fine basalt, and the angle of the blade-bevel from 60° to 40°. Weight, 21b. 12 oz. The face has been rubbed in an oblique manner on the grinding-stone.

Te Whatahoro states that Figs. 90 91 92 and 93, Plate XVI, resemble implements termed by east-coast natives toki waro, or mata waro, or toki tata waro, that were used to chip off charred wood when fire was used as an aid to tree-felling, &c. Also, that implements such as Figs. 90 and 93, in which the lower part of the face is comparatively straight and flat, were used as toki hema for bevelling off timbers and adzing plane surfaces. Intensified convexity of the face would render a tool unsuitable for such work.

Another of these odd forms is of a still more curious shape (see Fig. 91, Plate XVII). It is 7⅝ in. long and 2⅛ in. wide across the angle, its widest part, whence it narrows to 1¼ in. at the cutting-edge, and to the same width at the poll. The back of the tool is almost straight longitudinally, being very slightly concave, but it is much curved transversely, hence a cross-section would be semicircular, and the bevel to form the blade is a triangular facet. The face is convex transversely to a marked extent throughout its whole length, from poll to cutting-edge, which implies that the latter is curved like a shallow gouge. The angle on the face side is quite pronounced, as seen in the side view. The implement has been worked smooth, save where in some places rather deeply chipped spots have not been entirely ground out. The stone is aphanite.

This specimen is of a very rare shape, and, though apparently hafted as an adze, might rather be said to do the work of a chisel or page 305gouge. The angle of inclination of the blade is about 40° near the the cutting-edge but, as usual, much less higher up the blade. Weight of specimen, 12 oz.

There are also two of these angular-tanged adzes in an unfinished state, being half-ground. One of these is 9½ in. long, and weighs 2 lb. (see Fig. 92, Plate XVI). Width across the somewhat curved cutting-edge, 2¼ in.; across poll, 1½ in. The face is somewhat convex longitudinally from the cutting-edge to the break or angle of the tang, also slightly convex transversely. The back is markedly concave longitudinally, but almost flat transversely. The face is narrower than the back by ¼ in., an unusual occurrence. The tang lies at an angle of about 20° to the face of the tool, but is much straighter on the back. Thickness, 1⅜ in., though the tang averages but 1 in. in thickness. The blade is slightly concave transversely in its lower part, and the keen cutting-edge would thus cut as a shallow hollow gouge. Angle of inclination, 45° near cutting-edge, 30° on upper part of blade. The stone is aphanite.

Another less decided example (see Fig. 93, Plate XVI) has the tang at an angle of 10° or 12° to the face. This specimen is 8¼ in. long, and weighs 2½ lb. It is 3 in. across the cutting-edge, 2⅜ in. across the shoulder, 1⅞ in. at the middle, and 1¾ in. at the poll, thus showing an unusual expansion at the blade. Thickness at shoulder, 1½ in., which, with the short bevel, means an extremely thick blade. Angle of inclination near cutting-edge, 60°, but less higher up the blade. Material, mudstone with inclusive crystals. The last three width-measurements are across the back, which is somewhat narrower than the face. Both the last two specimens are but half-ground.

Yet another implement with an oblique tang, and of remarkably fine shape, lines, and finish, is represented by a cast in the Museum (see Fig. 94, Plates XIV and XV). The original must be a very fine tool. Its length is 13½ in. Width across cutting-edge, 3⅝ in., and at poll, 2⅛ in. Thickness at shoulder, 1⅞ in.; in middle, 1⅝ in.; at butt end, 1⅜ in. to 1⅛ in. From the butt-end shoulder to a point 2 in. from the cutting-edge the face is somewhat concave longitudinally, and is convex transversely throughout its entire length. From a point about 1½ in. from the cutting-edge the face curves slightly, to form that edge by its junction with the long bevel of the back. At the butt end for 3¼ in. from the poll the face and sides have been worked down deeply for the lashing, leaving a deep and unusually abrupt shoulder. The back of the tool is concave longitudinally to an extent but seldom seen, and convex transversely. One side is straight longitudinally, the other somewhat concave. Both are almost flat transversely, and page 306incline inward to the back to a marked extent. Thus the back is very nearly 1 in. narrower than the face. The poll is almost flat. From the highly prominent shoulder to the cutting-edge is a long curve of 4¾ in. This long blade is one of much strength, on account of the massive shoulder. The transverse convexity of the face imparts the usual slight downward curve to the cutting-edge, as seen in steel adzes, and which has the desired effect of preventing the corners from catching, or sticking, in the surface of the timber being worked, or marring its dressed face.

The longitudinal edges of this fine implement are well defined and regular, those of the face being quite sharp. The cross-section is not an uncommon form, though the inward trend of the sides to the back is more pronounced than in most items of this shape. The obliquity of the tang in regard to the axial plane of the face amounts to 15°. The angle of inclination of the blade is about 45° near the cutting-edge, and 30° to 25° higher up. A face view of this item is given in Plate XIV, and a side view in Plate XV.

In Fig. 94a, Plate XXIV, we note a similar form to Fig. 94, albeit the implement is much smaller. Fig. 94 a represents the cast of a finely formed and finished adze of black aphanite in Mr. Hamilton's collection. It is most symmetrical in form and finely polished. Its length is 6¼ in., width across cutting-edge 1½ in., and across butt end 1⅛ in. Thickness at shoulder-line, 1¼ in. The face is convex transversely, and straight longitudinally to within 1 in. of the end, from which point it is bevelled off slightly to form the cutting-edge, as is usual. The back is narrower than the face by ¼ in., and the prominent shoulder causes the marked appearance of longitudinal concavity. The sides are straight lengthwise and practically so transversely. The blade shows an angle of about 50° near the cutting-edge, which falls to 30° higher up. The butt end of the face has been cut deeply down to facilitate lashing, and this, in conjunction with the concave aspect of the back, imparts to the butt end an angular appearance. The original is a remarkably fine implement.

We now come to one of the most peculiar forms to be found in the Museum (see Fig. 95, Plate XVI). It is 9¾ in. long, and weighs 2¾ lb. What we take to be the back is deeply concave longitudinally and concave transversely. The small poll has a curious lateral projection, which may have served to hold this singular tool in the lashing. Without it there would certainly be some difficulty in keeping the tool on the haft, so rapidly does the chipped-down butt end decrease in size towards the poll. The thickness of this implement is 2¾ in. in the middle, a most unusual depth in one of its page 307length. For 4 in. from the poll the alleged face has been worked down to an extent not seen in any other specimen, leaving an abrupt and high shoulder, from which the butt end narrows both ways to a small poll. The face is convex longitudinally to a marked degree, and the angle formed by its intersection with the blade-bevel of the back is as high as 70°. So thick a blade and cutting-edge is rarely met with. The face is so much narrower than the back that at its thickest part a cross-section would be almost triangular in form. The cutting-edge is a scant 1 in. in width. The small rounded butt end lends itself to a hand-grip remarkably well. This tool may be a potuki, or pounder, that was used in the hand, not hafted. When asked his opinion as to Fig. 95, Te Whatahoro replied at once that it was a potuki, a pounder, used endwise to crush the roots of the raupo plant (Typha augustifolia). These roots (koareare, syn., karito) were collected, dried, and stored for future use. They were sometimes kept a long time. When wanted for food a portion was taken and soaked in water for one night, then put in a patua (a wooden vessel) and pounded with a potuki, such as we see in Fig. 95, in order to separate the mealy or farinaceous matter from the fibrous parts of the roots. This meal was then mixed with hot water, being made into a sort of porridge, and so eaten. For such purposes water was heated in the following manner: A kind of bottle was made of a sea-weed known as rimu-rapa. Water was poured into this vessel, and the upper part of it was then squeezed in and tied. The vessel was then placed in an upright position in a hangi, or steam-oven, and so heated. Ere long the water would become quite hot, and ready for mixing with the koareare meal, or for any other purpose it might be needed for. The seeds of the raupo were made into cakes or bread, and these were often eaten with the porridge-like food described above. Such food was reserved for the use of the upper class alone.

We now come to an odd form that may well be termed abnormal if treated as an adze, but it is evidently a pounder, or potuki (see Fig. 96, Plate XIV). It is an intermediate form between some of the thick adzes and the round stone pounders so well known. It may have been used as a beater, and not as a pestle is used. This curious item is 13¼ in. long, and weighs 7½ lb. Although it cannot have been a cutting implement, yet we propose to use such descriptive terms in explaining its form as have been applied to the stone adzes.

In the first place, a cross-section of this tool would appear as an acute-angled triangle, with its angles much rounded. Its greatest thickness, from face to back, is 3½ in., and this is in the middle of the tool. Its greatest width, also in the middle, is a little under 3 in. The back is straight longitudinally from poll to shoulder, and page 308somewhat convex transversely. Its two longitudinal edges are much rounded. The face, so called, is convex longitudinally, and very much rounded transversely, so much so that it would appear semicircular in section. This segmental section holds throughout the entire length of the tool, from the poll to the end whereat the cutting-edge would be in an adze. At the butt end the face and sides have been chipped down so as to leave a prominent shoulder on the face, and light ones on the sides. Evidently this was a hand-hold. The poll is rounded, and seems to show an original, smooth, water-worn surface. All the rest of the surface has been finished in a remarkably even manner, apparently by bruising, but not made smooth. The sides are some-what convex longitudinally, and much rounded transversely. The blade, if it may be so termed, is formed in the usual manner by means of a decided bevel on the back, showing a distinct shoulder, and a long, less decided bevel, or rather curve, on the face. The cutting-edge is, in this tool, replaced by a blunt, much rounded end, which seems to have been worn partly smooth by use. It can only have been used as a sort of pestle or punching-tool. If intended as a pestle, then the bevel would presumably represent useless work. If as a beater for fibre or roots, one would suppose the bevel would also impair its utility.

Another unusual form, noted in Mr. A. H. Turnbull's collection, is an adze of light-coloured stone, 8½ in. long, 2⅝ in. wide across the chord of the curved cutting-edge, and 2½ in. across the butt shoulder. Thickness, 1¼ in. in the axial centre of the tool at the lower part, and decreasing to 1⅝ in. at the poll. The face is convex longitudinally, and excessively so transversely. The sides have been worked down somewhat deeply, and the face roughened for 3½ in. from the poll so as to show a shoulder on each side, but none on the face, a very rare occurrence. This butt end is much rounded; in fact, a cross-section from poll to shoulders would appear as a symmetrical oval. The back of the lower half of the tool is of a curious form, and subtriangular cross-section. The sides slope inward to the narrow flat back at so acute an angle to the face that they practically form a part of the back of the tool. Hence the sides may be said to be represented by sharp straight edges. The angle of the blade ranges from 45° to 25°. The tool is ground to a smooth surface, and is polished, save on the butt end, where the lashing passes over.

In the Museum is a cast of a peculiar little adze which would act as a gouge, and cut a semicircular channel about 1¼ in. wide in timber (see Fig. 97, Plate VII). Its length is 5¾ in. Width in middle, 1⅝ in. It is of a curious turtle-back form, the contour of which is interrupted, however, by a deep hollow to accommodate and contain the lashing. page 309A cross-section would be semicircular, the back being straight longitudinally, though slightly convex laterally; and from its longitudinal edges the tool is rounded so as to represent a semicircle in section. The humped face is hollowed deeply for the lashing at the butt end, leaving a shoulder unusually prominent for so small an implement, also a prominent knob at the extreme end. The bevel of the blade is 1¾ in. long, and its junction with the semicircular face produces a cutting-edge of a similar form. It was evidently helved as an adze, and used for hewing out channels or grooves.