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The Stone Implements of the Maori

Thick, Heavy Form of Adze

Thick, Heavy Form of Adze

Rectangular Cross-section, or with Rounded Longitudinal Edges

There are several forms of these very thick tools. Some are equally bevelled on both faces, in order to form the cutting-edge (see Figs. 45 and 46, Plates VIII and X), while others are more bevelled on page 267one side than the other, and some are of true adze or chisel form. The blades of some adzes of this type are often so thick, and the angle of the cutting-edge so obtuse, that it would appear to be quite impossible to dress timber with such implements. Thus the angle formed by the two bevels is in some cases as great as 70°. On account of their exceeding thickness, it is probable that they were used for some form of work in which the delivery of heavy blows was necessary, and the great thickness was simply to enable the tool to withstand the shock of the blow. It may be that such forms were utilized in such heavy work as tree-felling and canoe-making, to punch off surfaces charred by fire, when the primitive workmen were hollowing out a huge log wherefrom to fashion a canoe, or when felling a large tree. Still, some of the small specimens of this type could scarcely have been used for such a purpose, being presumably too light for such work. They cannot have been of much service as cutting instruments. The thickest and most clumsy-looking specimens of this type are often of a cuneiform shape, in which the cutting-edge is formed by two bevels of equal length. These have already been dqscribed.

Some of these very thick forms are rectangular in cross-section, others triangular, while yet others have rounded longitudinal edges. One noted has two of such edges rectangular and two rounded off, apparently because the stone was chipped somewhat carelessly when being wrought into form. The rounding-off of the longitudinal edges naturally results in transverse convexity. Nearly all the very thick forms showing a marked longitudinal convexity on both face and back are of the cuneiform or axe-shaped type, bevelled equally on both face and back to form the cutting-edge.

A form of thick adze is the chisel-type, having but a slight bevel on the face, the blade and cutting-edge being principally formed by a bevel, more or less steep, on the back only. One such has two distinct shoulders, formed by a break or change in the line of the bevel. Thus the blade is formed with two facets. One of these shoulders is about ¾ in. from the cutting-edge, while the other is about 3 in. from that edge. The short facet formed by the former is possibly the result of the grinding-out of notches in the cutting-edge.

Some of these chisel-shaped thick adzes have the face longitudinally convex to a marked extent. In this form the widest part of the tool is at the cutting-edge, from which the width diminishes gradually toward the poll, and in many cases the thickness decreases in a like manner. Thus the tool tapers off on all sides towards the poll, but not to a sharp point, the poll being flattened or rounded, usually of the latter form. In stone tools of this form the thickness is greater page 268than the width, their heavy clumsy appearance being caused by the face and back being narrower than the sides. Others, again, are square or nearly so in cross-section, and in such cases the clumsiness of appearance is caused by the extreme thickness of the blade near the cutting-edge. Others with this type of blade are not of so pronounced a thickness as those already described, but are yet thicker than the usual forms. For instance, one such (Fig. 53, Plate VII) is 4¼ in. long and 1¼ in. thick at the shoulder, the width at the cutting-edge being 1⅞ in. The length of the bevel—that is, the distance from shoulder to cutting-edge—is 1¾ in.; angle of blade, 50°. Weight, 8 oz. Another specimen is 2¾ in. long, 1 in. thick at the shoulder, and 1¾ in. wide at the cutting-edge, but the bevel is only 1 in. long. Inasmuch as the bevel is convex longitudinally, this means a thick blade and cutting-edge. A smaller specimen is 2¼ in. long and ¾ in. thick at the shoulder, the convex blade being ¾ in. in length. The cutting-edge of this specimen is nearly 1¼ in. wide, and the width of the tool diminishes gradually from the cutting-edge to the poll, though not to form a point at the latter. The stone is grauwacke, with inclusions of slate.

A large type of very thick adzes is represented by (Fig. 54, Plate IX) a specimen 12 in. long, 1½ in. wide at the cutting-edge, 3 in. across the middle, and thence narrows on faces and sides to a smooth, rounded, almost conical poll. Its thickness in the middle is about 2¾ in., and it weighs 6 lb. The middle is the thickest part. Face, back, and sides are convex longitudinally; the first two are convex also to a marked extent transversely, the sides being much flatter. This specimen has also a transverse ridge at the shoulder-line; and, on the same side, a short facet has been formed by grinding at the cutting-edge, which has the effect of impairing the cuneiform aspect of the blade, the cutting-edge of which is not quite in the axial centre of the tool. The cutting-edge shows an angle of inclination of about 65°, which, above the facet, drops to about 25°. The stone is grauwacke.

Mr. L. Wright, of Ma-kotuku, found a very fine specimen of the thick type of adze (Fig. 54a, Plate IX) in an old clearing at that place, and has kindly forwarded it to the Museum for inspection. The length of this tool is 13½ in.; width, 3 in. at the shoulder and for some little distance back, narrowing to 1⅞ in. at the cutting-edge and to 1½ in. at the rounded symmetrical poll. The middle portion is 2⅝ in, thick, narrowing to 2⅛ in. at 2 in. from the poll. The poll is well and evenly rounded from all sides, showing the even surface at that part for which this type alone is remarkable. The whole surface of the tool has been evenly dressed, but not polished, page 269another peculiarity of this type of adze, albeit there are signs that efforts have been made to give the surface a smoother finish, such process having only been commenced. The material is diorite. The sides of this adze-shaped implement are convex longitudinally and transversely, as also is the back. The longitudinal convexity of the face is much greater than that of the back, being considerably accentuated at the blade end. At 3 in. from the poll the longitudinal edges of the face have been reduced in order to accommodate the lashing-cord, though only to a slight extent, leaving nothing in the form of a prominent shoulder. The transverse convexity of the face is marked, and the face is somewhat wider than the back. The blade is thick, and looks clumsy in comparison with those of lighter dressing-adzes, the angle of inclination near the cutting-edge being about 60°, falling to about 35° in the upper part of the blade. The back of the blade, from cutting-edge to shoulder, measures 4f in. The narrowness of the cutting-edge, in conjunction with the thickness of blade and body, seems to indicate that the tool was used for heavy work, inasmuch as it implies a conservation of strength, the blade at the cutting-edge carrying no square corners. The marked reduction of the blade in width (1 in. in 3 in.) bears out the above assumption. Across the shoulder, on the back of the tool, is a prominent transverse ridge, as observed in some other specimens. This ridge is curved, as noted in some other specimens, the concave side facing the blade. That part of the blade near the cutting-edge is the only part of the tool that bears a smooth finish. A considerable part of the surface of the tool seems not to have been ground at all, but to be a good illustration of the neat even surface the stone-workers of the neolithic Maori produced by a process of bruising with light blows of a stone hammer. The weight of this tool is 7½ lb. Although the blade of this implement is formed by the bevelling-off of both face and back, yet that of the face is but the accentuation of its longitudinal convexity, the blade not being bounded by a pronounced shoulder, as it is on the back. The bevel of the back of the blade is much greater and more pronounced than that of the face, hence the implement must be termed to be of adze-form. As to the use to which such tools as this were applied, several good native authorities agree in stating that this form was used as a punching tool in tree-felling operations, being hafted in an axial manner on a long stout shaft. This specimen closely resembles Fig. 54 in form and also in finish.

In Fig. 54b, Plate IX, we have a very similar tool to the two preceding ones in form and finish. The general shape, the blade narrowed to the cutting-edge, the rounded even poll, double bevel,page 270evenly dressed but unpolished surface, &c., all show this to be a distinct type of tool made on a well-recognized and conventional plan for some special purpose. The most puzzling item in connection with these unpolished, though symmetrical, tools is the fact that in every case the poll is carefully rounded and finished off, whereas in other forms, though well or even beautifully polished on the whole, the polls are left rough, and often with an original fracture-surface.

The length of Fig. 54b is 11¾ in. Width in middle, 3⅛ in., from which part it narrows to a trifle over 1 in. at the cutting-edge, and to about 1⅜ in. at the poll. Thickness, about 2⅜ in. in the middle, lessening gradually to either end. The cutting-edge of this tool is practically in the axial centre of the tool, although a prominent transverse ridge across the upper part of the blade imparts to the blade an appearance of possessing a marked shoulder on that side. This apparent shoulder, however, is but a raised ridge, the reduction of which would leave the blade absolutely wanting in a shoulder on both face and back. The longitudinal edges of this tool are more rounded than in Fig. 54a, and the poll is smaller and somewhat more conical. Otherwise it much resembles Fig. 54a in form and finish. Its weight is 5½ lb. No reduction of the butt end to facilitate lashing is apparent in Fig. 54b.

In Fig. 54c, Plate XXIV, we see a short form that shows a most unusual thickness as compared with its length. The illustration is from a cast of the original, which is in the museum of the Otago University. This tool is of adze-form, and is 8 in. long and 2¼ in. wide across the cutting-edge, decreasing to 1¾ in. across the poll. The thickness is 1¾ in. full in the middle and almost 2 in. at the shoulder. The face is much bevelled off to form the cutting-edge. The prominent shoulder causes the back to be somewhat concave longitudinally, and it is somewhat narrower than the face. The angle of the blade at the cutting-edge is fully as high as 65°. This fact, in conjunction with the abnormal thickness of so short a tool, shows that it must have been used for heavy work. The butt end has been cut down deeply on the face for the lashing. The upper part of the blade is somewhat concave transversely.

In Fig. 54d, Plate XXXI, we note a remarkably thick form, presenting several points of interest. The singularly angular tang at the butt end reminds one of Hawaiian forms, and the great thickness of the implement is surprising. This unusual thickness may have been on account of the stone being of a somewhat inferior quality, and, notwithstanding its great thickness, a large piece has been broken off the face of the blade, completely ruining the tool. page 271Hence the owner had commenced to saw 1 in. in thickness off the whole face in order to reform the adze. This longitudinal cut is over 9 in. long, and has been carried in to a depth of ¼ in. full, the same being an excellent illustration of stone cutting or sawing. This implement is 13 in. in length, and only 2 in. in width, whereas it is almost 3 in. in thickness. Face, back, and sides are fairly flat, and the back is concave longitudinally. The butt end of the face shows a heavy reduction where the lashing would come, and the peculiar angle of this end is unusual in Maori forms. Surfaces have been ground except hollow fractures. The upper part of the back is fissured like a piece of decayed wood. From cutting-edge to shoulder the blade measures 4 in., while its width is 2 in. The blade-bevel is concave transversely. This specimen was found at Wickcliffe Bay, and is in the Otago University Museum. The illustration is from a cast.

Specimens of thick forms, with rectangular or rounded sections, are described in the remarks on the wedge-or axe-shaped type, and one 15 in. specimen is described with the long and narrow forms.

Triangular Cross-section

Some of the thick forms of adze are triangular in cross-section. These triangular-specimens usually diminish in size from the shoulder, in width and thickness, both toward the poll and toward the cutting-edge. Thus the width of the cutting-edge may be less than half that of the implement at its widest part—that is, across the shoulder. Some, however, preserve the same width from the cutting-edge right back to within a short distance of the poll, where they are worked down smaller, made both narrower and thinner at that part where enclosed by the lashing. These forms must have been hafted as adzes, which is shown by the butt ends having been worked down so as to form a convenient resting-place or bed for the lashing. Used as adzes, the narrow-edged wide-shouldered form would cut or form a shallow rectangular channel; but such channel cannot have been carried to any depth, inasmuch as the sides of the blade, expanding from cutting-edge to shoulder, would come in contact with the sides of the channel formed in the worked timber, and so destroy the effect of the blow, or, rather, such effect would be the bruising of the sides of the channel, and not the cutting or deepening of it.

Some of these triangular forms are convex longitudinally on the face, others are straight or nearly so, save the slight bevel seen in ordinary forms that help to form the blade. It must be observed that the face of these specimens is simply the apex of the triangle shown page 272in cross-section, the flat face, or back of the tool, being the base of the triangle, and which is placed against the "foot" of the handle when hafted. The only places whereat the triangular aspect of the cross-section is marred is near the cutting-edge, where the slight bevel of the face takes the apex off the triangle, and, in some cases, at the butt end the face is worked down and rounded off in order to give the lashing a better grip. In one specimen noted, the sharp face—that is, the apex of the triangle—has been flaked off its whole length.

One very curious specimen, with a true chisel-point formed by a bevel on one side only, is extremely puzzling, inasmuch as this bevel or facet is on the face of the tool instead of the back. This means that the apex of the triangle would be against the foot of the handle when hafted, an impossible position, as it would be so difficult to lash it securely or to keep it steady. The only reason that can be assigned for this is that the tool, which is but chipped into form and has never been ground, was apparently made from a natural form of stone by merely chipping off slight irregularities. On all three faces, and even on the bevel or facet that forms the cutting-edge, are plainly seen portions of the original water-worn surface of the stone. Thus, in the stone when found, the blade, cutting-edge, and triangular body of the implement were already formed, merely requiring a little chipping and grinding in order to turn out a completed tool. The chipping has been done, but no sign of grinding appears, and it is evident that the implement has never been used. Possibly the workman rejected it on account of it not being suitable for helving.

A specimen, triangular in cross-section and of great comparative thickness, albeit unground and hence not finished, has the base of the triangle at its back, the face being the apex of the triangle (see Fig. 55, Plate XVI). Native experts maintain that this is a potuki, or pounder, not a toki. This item is of diorite, is 8 in. long, and weights 1½ lb. The face is flattened at the blade end, but forms a narrow ridge thence backward to the poll. The back is 1⅞ in. wide at the shoulder, from which point it narrows down to the poundingedge, and backward to the poll. The latter is 1⅛ in. wide, and the former ¾ in. wide. The thickness is 2¼ in. at the shoulder, and decreases to 1¼ in. at the poll. The angle of inclination is about 60° on the lower part thereof, and 50° higher up. The blade—if such a term be not a misnomer—is of great thickness. These pounders had no handles attached, but were held in the hand.

Another specimen of potuki, or pounder (Fig. 56, Plate XVI), also 8 in. long, and weighing 2 lb., is not really triangular in section, but page 273has a semicircular face. The face is markedly convex longitudinally, the butt end being chipped down for 3 in., leaving a shoulder 3 in. from the poll, and a ridge at the poll also, thus forming a hand-grip. The width of the pounding-edge is 1⅛ in., and of the butt end, near the poll, the same. Thickness at shoulder, 2⅜ in. The back is straight longitudinally, and somewhat convex transversely, with a blade-bevel 2¾ in. long, of which the angle of inclination near the cutting-edge is 80°. Higher up the blade it drops to about 50°. The stone is grauwacke, with slate inclusions.

These triangular forms are found in various stages of manufacture. Many have been roughly chipped into form and then bruised, but have no sign of grinding on their surfaces. Others are partially ground, while some have been ground all over, and are well-finished tools.

Fig. 56a, Plate XXIV, shows a remarkably thick form that was probably used as a pounder or pestle (potuki or tuki), which would explain not only the thick blade of an 80° angle in its lower part, but also the well-rounded upper part and smoothly rounded poll. Thus it would present a good hand-grip if used for pounding. Surfaces have been "bruised" to an even finish, and a portion thereof ground smooth. Length, 7 in.; width, 2¼ in.; thickness, 1¾ in.; weight, 2 lb. Material, a fine indurated sandstone.

A very singular specimen is one that has been broken across the middle (see Fig. 57, Plate XIV). So obtuse, however, is the angle of the blade—if blade be not a misnomer—and so peculiar its form, that it evidently never formed part of an adze. It is triangular in section, and must have been a heavy implement ere it was broken. It is 3 in. in thickness or depth at the shoulder, and 2½ in. wide at the same part. Speaking of it as though it were an adze, the apex of the triangular section is the face of the tool, which is bevelled or curved for about 2 in. from the cutting-edge. The bevel on the other face—that is, the back—is 4 in. long, is convex longitudinally, but, strange to say, concave laterally. This concavity is quite pronounced, and continued right down to the point. Its surface is also finely polished, as are the two side surfaces for some distance back from the point. So peculiar is the form of this item that it would be a misnomer to apply the term "cutting-edge" to the point. It is difficult to see any use in the transverse concavity. The sides are markedly convex laterally. This implement cannot have been of the slightest use as a cutting-tool, but it has been carefully polished. It has been rubbed lengthwise on stone, both concave and convex surfaces showing longitudinal striæ plainly. It is of a hard black diorite, and weighs page 2742¾ lb. It may have been used as a rubber or burnisher of some sort, or as a pounder or beater.

Some of the triangular cross-section adzes have the butt end pecked down so as to round off the face, and leave a shoulder on the apex or face. This reduced part extends in some cases nearly half-way down the tool, and was evidently intended to accommodate the lashing. Save across such places and across the blade, these forms show a triangular cross-section throughout.

We may also note some small stone tools showing a triangular cross-section. Some of these may have been used as small adzes, but many were undoubtedly utilized as chisels. Some are described under that head. Long stone tools, with a triangular cross-section, found in the British Isles are spoken of as picks by Evans.

An adze of short thick form in Mr. A. H. Turnbull's collection has a thick blade that is concave transversely to a marked extent, like a hollow gouge. It has also a heavy butt reduction. Length, 7 in.; width across cutting-edge, 1⅝ in., narrowing backward to 1⅜ in. at the butt end. Thickness, 1½ in. Face slightly convex both ways. Face and sides worked down heavily for 2¾ in. from the poll, leaving a prominent shoulder, and a slight ridge near the poll. The back is straight and flat both ways, as also are the sides. The latter trend inward to the back, which is thus narrower than the face. The thick blade is 2½ in. long, and the bevel on the back is deeply concave transversely from cutting-edge to shoulder, more so than in any other specimen examined. In this respect, and with this restriction, it is emphatically unique. Angle of inclination of blade, from 40° to 30°. The surface has been dressed to an even finish, but the blade only is polished.

Another thick specimen (Fig. 58, Plate XXVIII) in the Museum has apparently been made to be used as an adze, but in grinding two short bevels on the blade the cutting-edge has been formed in the axial centre of the tool. In regard to these bevels it resembles a toki whakangao, for an account of which see under "Normal Forms." The face is worked down slightly at the butt end, to accommodate the lashing. Length, 10in.; weight, 41b. Width across cutting-edge, 2¼ in.; across a point 2 in. back from cutting-edge, 2⅝ in. full; across poll, 1¾ in. Thickness, 2⅛ in. at line of butt shoulder (2½ in. from poll), from which point it decreases both ways. The face is considerably convex longitudinally, and slightly so laterally. The back is also convex both ways, but to a less extent; in fact, it looks almost flat, until a straight-edge is applied thereto. The sides are very slightly convex both ways, and these also look flat. As in most of these thick forms, the poll is rounded and of even surface. The item page 275of interest lies in the two short blade-bevels, one on the face and one on the back, each of which has its prominent shoulder. The face bevel is ¾ in., and the back bevel ⅞ in., thus making an extremely short blade, though the gradual convergence of face and back from as far back as the slight butt shoulder renders such short bevels quite feasible and effective. The cutting-edge is straight, and the angle of inclination formed by the two abrupt bevels fully 70°. This tool is ground to an even surface on every part, including the poll. The material is sandstone, with fragments of slate. Although ground all over, yet the surface is not smooth and polished, save on the two short facets. Apparently the tool has been ground on a rough sandstone, and the blade-facets only have been polished.

In Fig. 59, Plate XXVIII, we have another thick type, made of reddish sandstone, with a curious transverse ridge on the shoulder. This implement is 9 in. long, 2⅜ in. wide across the cutting-edge, and 2 in. wide near the poll. The width across the shoulder on the back is 2¼ in., but the width across the face opposite the shoulder is 2⅝ in., and this comparative narrowness of the back is carried throughout its length. Thickness in middle, 1¾ in. The sides, though sloping inwards to the back, are almost flat and straight throughout their length. Both face and back are convex transversely, as is usual, but the former only is convex longitudinally, the back being straight from the butt end to the ridge that rises somewhat abruptly at the shoulder-line. The ridge is quite prominent, and, instead of being straight, as most of them are, is curved in, with the crown of the curve toward the butt end. Thus the bevel of the blade is carried on above the plane of the back, and terminates in an almost semicircular sweep. The face and edges at the butt end have been bruised down for 3½ in. in order to accommodate the lashing, but no prominent shoulder has been left at the terminating-point of such bruising. The poll has been rounded off to some extent, but shows a rough unground fracture. The cutting-edge is slightly curved, the blade-bevel on face also slight, that on the back is convex to a marked extent longitudinally, as is usual, and slightly so transversely, also a common form. The whole implement has been remarkably well bruised and partially ground smooth—viz., the whole of the blade and one side, and the face as far as the reduced butt end. The back is not ground smooth, but the work of doing so had just been commenced, which may also be said of the unground side, which has one edge ground smooth. This is one of the most interesting specimens in the Museum collection, and is a good illustration of fine bruising-work in its unground parts. Angle of inclination of the blade, 60° to 40°. Weight, 3 lb.