Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Stone Implements of the Maori

With Ornamented Polls

With Ornamented Polls

There are five stone adzes in the Museum showing a peculiar mode of ornamentation on the poll, effected by means of a graver, apparently, in two cases. On the other three the patterns seem to have been produced by grinding, or rubbing with a narrow piece of stone. Three out of the five adzes are of the unusually thick type; that in which we note the poll has been ground to a symmetrical form, a process that is most unusual in respect to the ordinary type of adze, and also those of nephrite. Of the other two with patterned polls, one is of ordinary thickness, the other rather thinner than usual, but in all the five specimens the cutting-edge is practically in the axial centre of the tool, as viewed sideways. Three of these specimens show by their worked-down butt ends that they were hafted either as adzes, or axially, as are chisels. Two have already been described among the wedge or axe shaped forms, and but three remain to be mentioned. The largest of these carries the best example of a patterned poll (see Fig. 98, Plate XI). It is 10 in. long, and weighs 3¼ lb. Width across cutting-edge, 2⅞ in.; across poll, 1¾ in. Thickness, 1½ in. at butt shoulder, from which point it decreases both ways. Face and back are convex both ways, the former to a greater extent than the latter. The sides are straight and flat both ways, quite flat transversely, and uncommon feature in Maori stone adzes. There is no bevel shoulder, the two faces converging in long low curves to form the straight cutting-edge. The butt end of the face has been very slightly reduced to facilitate lashing, leaving a slight shoulder-butt. The angle of inclination of the blade is nearly 50° near the cutting-edge, but soon drops to 30°. This item comes from Nuhaka. The stone is grauwacke. The poll has been ground smooth; and a curious pattern has been fashioned thereon, either by a graving process or by rubbing with the small end of a piece of sandstone or some other kind of stone. The pattern is in relief and is well executed. This implement (Fig. 98) resembles Fig. 20 in form, but is wider in proportion to its length.

page 310

Another, and much smaller, adze has a similar pattern incised on the poll, but it is much fainter, and does not stand out in bold relief (see Fig. 99, Plate XI). This item is 6½ in. long, and weighs 1 lb. Width across cutting-edge, 2¼ in.; across rounded poll, 1¼ in. Thickness in middle, 1 in. On what we presume is the back of the tool the blade has a very short bevel of 5/16 in. Face, back, and sides very similar in form to the last specimen described. In both items the back is somewhat narrower than the face. Fig 99 is of dioritic sandstone.

Another specimen in dioritic sandstone is of the thick wedge-shaped type, described elsewhere, in which the thickest part of the tool is at or near the middle, the blade being formed by an equal convergence of the face and back toward the cutting-edge (see Fig. 100, Plate XXVIII). It is 7¾ in. long, and weighs 2 lb. Width across cutting-edge (allowing for a chipped corner thereof), 1¾ in.; across middle, 2⅜ in.; across poll, 1¼ in. Thickness in middle, 1⅝ in.; thence decreasing both ways, thickness at poll being 1 in. Sides, convex both ways. Faces, convex longitudinally, but almost flat transversely. Longitudinal edges, rounded. Blade, rough on one face, possibly a fractured surface. Angle, 30°. The ornamental figuring on the poll is similar to that on the reke or butt of a stone patu (a short stone weapon), consisting of curved grooves in the form of concentric ovals.

Two other thick wedge-shaped tools show this latter pattern of ornament incised on the poll, which is additional proof that they were not used as wedges.

One of the most interesting items that has come under our notice is a cast of a stone axe, or adze, the original of which was discovered in Peru (see Fig. 100a, Plate XLIII). Judging from its general form, the original was intended to represent an adze, but it seems probable that it was a ceremonial implement, possibly not used as an ordinary tool, but merely in some form of ritual, inasmuch as it is ornamented with a human head and arms in relief on that face that would have been brought into contact with the material being worked if used as an adze. The length of the cast is 10 in. Width, 2⅜ in. across cutting-edge; width at 3 in. back from cutting-edge, 3¼ in., from which part the tool narrows to a smooth conical poll. Thickness in middle, about 1¾ in. Sides, face, and back are much rounded. The blade is very thick, and at and near the cutting-edge shows an angle of about 70°, hence "cutting-edge" is somewhat of a misnomer in this case. The original must be a very symmetrical well-formed implement, showing a smooth surface, save for a gap in the cutting-edge. The sides and what we take to be the face are markedly convex, both longitudinally and page 311transversely. The back is much flatter, its aspect of longitudinal convexity being imparted to it by the falling-away of the blade and butt end, for it is straight in its central part, about 4½ in. This is what gives the implement an adze-like form. On the back of this item is a curious carving in relief, some 5⅜ in. long, representing a human head and the two arms, but without any body, unless the bulk of the implement is intended to represent the body. The arms are represented as extending downward from the sides of the head, and the hands turn inwards at right angles 1 in. below the chin, the tips of the fingers meeting. The ears are placed high, and all the features are of rude formation, the teeth being very prominent. Apart from the carving, the most noticeable feature is the beautifully formed and finished smooth conical poll. It does not seem likely that this item was intended as a tool. We can only surmise that it was some form of ceremonial implement.