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The Stone Implements of the Maori

With Short Blade-Bevel

page 265

With Short Blade-Bevel

The first specimen to come under this head is an unusually wide and flat form (see Fig. 49, Plate XI). It is also much thinner than is usual in proportion to its length. It is 11½ in. long, 3⅝ in. wide across the cutting-edge, and 2¼ in. at the butt end. The sides are ⅞ in. thick, but, both face and back being convex transversely, it follows that the tool is thicker in the centre than at the sides. This may be said of the majority of Maori stone adzes. This specimen weighs 3 lb. 14 oz., and is well ground throughout, but the cutting-edge has been sadly gapped. The bevel to form the blade and cutting-edge is an unusually short facet for so large a tool, the deepest part being but ⅞ in. The blade carries an angle of inclination of over 50°. The material is a fine-grained dioritic sandstone with black veins.

In half a dozen such tools under observation, each of which has a very short blade-bevel, in every case the implement is much thinner than tools of their size usually are. Hence it would appear that the object of the short facet is to give the blade the same angle of inclination as that carried by the ordinary adze, which is of thicker form and has a longer bevel. If the usual long bevel were ground on the thinner implement, then the blade would be too thin, and would not stand the shock of a blow when used. The short bevel-facet may be said to be almost peculiar to a form that is wide, flat, and thin, in proportion to length, though we note an exception in Fig. 58, Plate XXVIII.

A specimen 6¼ in. long and 3⅛ in. across the cutting-edge has an unusually flat face and back, and a blade-facet of but ½ in. to ¾ in. Another, 6½ in. long, has a blade-facet of only 5/16 in., about as short as it well could be.

A specimen from Mohaka (Fig. 50, Plate XI) made from diorite is 6½ in. long, and weighs 1 lb. It is 2 3/16 in. across the cutting-edge and 1¾ in. at the poll, which is ground round and smooth. Thickness, ⅞ in. in the middle. The face is convex longitudinally to an unusual extent, and slightly so transversely. The edges at the butt end have been worked down somewhat to accommodate the lashing. For the rest of their length these longitudinal edges of the face have been chamfered off, not rounded, as is often the case, but reduced by means of grinding them down to a narrow flat facet of about ⅛ in. in width. This is the only implement in which such a chamfered edge has been noted. The poll has been ground into an even, rounded form, not a common occurrence in Maori adzes. The back is quite flat transversely, and almost so longitudinally, another uncommon item. The sides are flat transversely, and almost straight length-page 266wise, being very slightly curved. They slope in towards the back of the tool, a peculiarity very seldom seen, making the face 7/16 in. wider than the back. The short facet or bevel on the back to form the cutting-edge is but ⅝ in. long, and the angle of inclination of the blade about 40° to 45°. This tool is well ground.

A very similar specimen (Fig. 51, Plate XI), also of diorite, is 6½ in. long, and weighs 18 oz. Width across cutting-edge, 2¾ in; across poll, 1¾ in. Both face and back are convex both ways, but this convexity is much less pronounced on the latter than on the face. The poll is rounded symmetrically, and ground to an even surface. The sides are slightly convex longitudinally, and almost flat transversely. The edges are not rounded or chamfered. The short facet on the back that forms the blade is about ⅜ in. to ½ in. long, and the angle of inclination is almost 60°. All surfaces are ground smooth. Thickness, ⅞ in. to 1 in. in the middle, its thickest part.

Another specimen (Fig. 52, Plate XI), from Mohaka, has unfortunately been broken, and we have but 5 in. of the blade end to expatiate on. This is regrettable, inasmuch as the piece is possessed of remarkable fine lines, is symmetrical, and beautifully ground and polished. Both face and back are almost flat transversely, the former being convex longitudinally to a considerable extent, the latter much less so. The sides are quite straight and flat, the edges sharply defined. The short bevel on the back is a facet of 11/16 in. in length, and the blade carries an angle of 50°. This tool has been a masterpiece of some old-time adept. This piece weighs 1½ lb. Thickness at break, 1 5/16 in. Width across cutting-edge, 3¼ in. The stone is diorite, showing inclusions of slate.

These adzes, it will be observed, are much thinner than is usual, and carry a blade of a very different type from that of the ordinary stone adze. They are termed toki whakangao by the Tuhoe Tribe, and were used wherewith to adze a pattern on the dressed surface of house-posts, &c.—that is, on the kainga kanohi (the part seen) only.

See Figs. 71b and 87, Plates XXII and XI, which are other adzes of this type, wide and comparatively thin.