The Stone Implements of the Maori
When engaged in the manufacture of stone implements the Maori seems to have employed six different methods, or processes, before the tool was ready to be applied to the grinding-stone. These processes were:—
After these came,—
|7.||Grinding; and, in some cases—|
All of the first five of these processes were not always employed when reducing a block of stone to the desired form and preparing it for the hands of the grinder. For instance, some kinds of stone would not flake off at all, but had to be chipped or pecked into shape. Nephrite is a particularly tough stone, and hence sawing was largely depended on as a means of reducing it to a desirable form. A non-chippable stone was sawn, hammered, pecked, or bruised into form.
It may be advisable before proceeding further to give some definition of these terms.
Hammering.—This term is applied to the act of breaking or smashing a boulder or large block of stone by means of striking it with a stone hammer. Smaller hammers were also used to break off pieces from a piece of stone in order to reduce it to a suitable size for pecking or chipping.
Sawing.—This implies the act of cutting stone by means of a sawing motion imparted to another thin-edged piece of stone used to cut a groove with. Such a saw or rubber was often used in connection with sand, or other hard grit, and water.
Flaking implies the striking-off of a long thin flake of stone, such as was done in order to obtain knives or cutting-flakes from a block of obsidian. It is also an effective method in working some forms of flint and other kinds of stone.
Chipping.—This term is employed in order to denote the chipping-off of a small, thin, or flattish piece of stone, not to a long flake. Chipping was the most common method of reducing pieces of stone page 44to a desirable size and shape for grinding. Some of the chipped implements of Europe and Americe of a beautiful finish. The Maori word rehu means "to chip, to split of in chips."
Pecking.—This implies the pecking at a piece of stone with a more or less pointed instrument, the blow merely resulting in the forming of a small hole or in pecking off but a minute piece of the material. Such an act is described by the term timo in Maori, and the Tuhoe folk employ the word toto to define a bruising or pecking process.
Brushing.—In the majority of cases the process seems to have been to reduce the stone to the desired shape by two or more of the first five methods above mentioned. Having been chipped into form, the surface was then rendered even by tapping the asperities thereof with a stone hammer, hafted as in this illustration, or simply held in the hand. Such a hammer was not used wherewith to strike heavy blows, but simply to tap the projecting parts of the rough-chipped surface so as to bruise and pulverize such parts. This bruising was the last process prior to grinding: and a skilful operator would, by such bruising, reduce the rough-chipped block to a remarkably even surface, thus saving much work in the grinding of the tool.page 45
In Spencer and Gillen's "Northern Tribes of Central Australia," 1904, we note evidence that many natives in the interior of that country are still living in the Stone Age, making and using stone implements. The authors witnessed the operation of making a stone axe from start to finish, the material being diorite, and remark that it was not a lengthy process to flake the stone into form, but required great care lest too great a spawl be struck off. The next operation was that of levelling the surfaces of the stone, and this was done by tapping the asperities or prominent parts with a quartzite pebble "until the whole surface is covered over with minute dents, and all of the irregularities are smoothed down. In a well-made axe this operation is performed so thoroughly that all traces of the rough flaking are removed … The older axes are, as a rule, much superior in workmanship to those of the present day. The exact shape of the axe varies much according to that of the original block of stone. Sometimes it is broad and flat; at others longer, narrower, and more bulky. … At the present day ground axes are much less common than flaked implements … The making of ground axes has now practically ceased in this part; amongst northern tribes they are still made."
An illustration is also given of a native grinding a stone axe by rubbing it on a slab of stone, as the Maori did. Presumably only the blade part was ground, but this point is not clear. The tapping or light battering process, which left a slightly indented though roughly even surface, is of interest, and was also employed by the Maori. The hafting of these Australian forms is extremely crude. Some of the stone axe-heads are ornamented with dots or lines done in white pipeclay, charcoal, or ochre.
In connection with the grinding and polishing of stone implements there is another item that should receive some attention. When examining the interesting collection of stone implements made by Mr. Beckett, of Wellington, we noted some adzes that seemed to have been ground smooth in parts usually left rough, as on the reduced sides of the butt end, where roughness gives the lashing a good grip; also in some chipped but unground specimens, obviously unfinished, all minor asperities have been worn off, and prominent parts are quite smooth. In the hollows of such items, as also in the hollows of fractures in blades of finished adzes, no feeling of roughness can be detected, but the surfaces feel smooth to the touch. These implements came from the sand-dunes of the Hataitai isthmus, at Miramar, and it is clear that the unusual smoothness has been caused by wind-driven sand. Nature's sand-blast has been page 46at work here, and some stones so sand-worn have a smooth and polished or glazed appearance. Some exceedingly curious examples of sand-worn stones have been found at Miramar.
Grinding.—The grinding of stone implements is described else-where.
Polishing or Burnishing.—Te Whatahoro supplies the following notes in regard to the polishing of stone implements: "After the work of grinding into the final shape was completed, the stone adzes were in many cases subjected to a polishing process. This latter process was effected by rubbing them with stones, or pieces of the wood of the tree known as houi, houhi, houhere, and whauwhi (Hoheria populnea). This wood is of a peculiar laminated and netted texture, and separates easily into its component layers, as also does its bark. Split green pieces of this wood were rubbed on the surface of the stone tool, and had the effect of imparting thereto a smooth surface and a fine polish, as may be seen in many cases, more especially in the beautifully finished black aphanite tools. In rubbing this wood on the stone, the surface of the former was not allowed to become dry and heated, or it would cause the surface of the stone to become discoloured and unsightly. Hence it was frequently dipped into water, and when the surface thereof became hardened or ineffective in any way it was turned over and another face of it used."
The same authority explains that certain kinds of stone were used for the purpose of polishing stone adzes. The stone called waiapu was specially prized for this purpose.
It is explained by Te Whatahoro, an excellent authority on all matters pertaining to old Maroi industries, that oil was used in polishing nephrite in former times. In this process a piece of houhi (Hoheria populnea) wood was split into somewhat thin flat sections. These were flattened to an even surface, and smoothed by rubbing them on flat hoanga or grinding-stones. They were then soaked in shark-oil for some time, until they had absorbed much oil, after which they were rubbed on the surface of the nephrite to be polished. Small pieces of such oiled wood were used wherewith to polish such small surfaces as the hollows, hands, &c., of a heitiki. The oil used was that obtained from the liver of a species of shark known as mango ururoa. No other oil was deemed fit for this purpose, not even that obtained from other species of sharks.
Mr. Leonard speaks of nephrite being polished (as a final process) with ashes and oil, but does not state whether or not he obtained the information from a native.
In a letter written by the late Mr. John White (see Trans. N.Z. page 47Inst., vol. viii, p. 81) occurs the following remark: "Again, the bird (the mod) was known to swallow stones, which the Maori says was only a certain sort; and hence, when they see a Turkey oilstone they call it moa, as the stones swallowed by the moa. This sort of stone was that used in polishing the pounamu (nephrite), and called a hoanga moa." It would appear from the above that a certain kind of stone was used in polishing nephrite implements.
There is in Mr. White's "Te Rou" an item of interest (see page 328) which shows that the old-time Maori was in the habit of occasionally oiling his nephrite mere, even as he oiled his wooden weapons. Presumably this was for the purpose of polishing it, or bringing out the colour of the stone.
It depended on the texture or "grain" of the stone as to what processes were employed in working it. Owing to the discovery of stone tools in various stages of manufacture we can form a very good idea as to how the Maori worked stone into the desired form preparatory to grinding. Some such specimens are but roughly blocked out, and need chipping to prepare the surface for grinding (see Plate I). Some are seen well chipped to the desired form, and are ready for the bruising process (see Plate II); while Fig. 13 shows surfaces bruised to an even finish, but not ground; and yet others have been half-ground, many of the pits caused by chipping, or a bruised surface, not being ground out. To avoid an unnecessary amount of labour in bruising, an implement was chipped as near as possible to the desired size and shape before the work of bruising commenced.
It is doubtful if very much polishing was necessary in the case of nephrite, as the mere working of it with grit and water left the surface fairly smooth. This effect may be seen in a cut made by a lapidary or by a Maori in a piece of greenstone (nephrite), which cut leaves the surface smooth and of a polished appearance. The native method of working nephrite left the surface so little marked by straei that the final polishing would probably not be a very lengthy task.
Small boulders, stones from river-beds, seem to have been used for heavy hammers for the purpose of breaking blocks of stone.
Hard stone, such as quartz, was sought for, to be broken up and used as drill-points, chipping and pecking tools, and laminae of hard slates and schists in sawing and grooving operations, often used in connection with sand and water, though some such cutters seem to have been used with water only.
Quartz is termed kiripaka by the Maoris, but it seems that any page 48flint-like stone is known to them by the same name. Such stone was broken into roughly shaped pieces, and the pieces chipped into the desired form for use as tools. Some were pointed and used as rubbers or graving-tools in the stone-carving whakairo kohatu, in making heitiki and other ornaments. A pointed piece of quartz or similar hard stone so chipped to a point was used as a pick or pecker in working some kinds of stone.
A native informant uses the term tarei to describe the reducing of a block of stone to a desired form for an adze. "Ko taua kohatu, ehara i te kohatu tuapapa, he kohatu topuku tonu, he mea tarei ki te kiripaka" (That stone was not a mass of rock in situ, it was a rounded float-piece, and was chipped down with a piece of quartz).
On page 44 we give an illustration of a hafted stone hammer, such as were used by the Maori in former times to toto (hammer or bruise into form) pieces of rough stone, from which adzes, beaters, &c., were fashioned. This hammer is composed of a piece of jas-peroid quartz reduced to the desired size by hammering, and is attached to a wooden handle. A slot has been formed in the end of the handle by cutting out the wood, as a mortise hole is formed, into which slot the end of the stone is inserted. A lashing of plaited Phormium fibre secures the stone to the hammer, getting a good grip by covering the asperities of the surface of the stone. This particular stone hammer was made by Paitini, an old man of the Tuhoe Tribe, and is now in the Dominion Museum. This style of hafting is curious and interesting, and certainly an advance on the method depicted in "Man," vol. vii, page 6. In this singular specimen, found in a tomb at Nagada, the handle is composed of two separate sticks, the stone being placed between the two sticks near the ends, and secured to them with a lashing.
It will be noted that the slot in the handle of the Maori specimen is not a proper mortise hole, inasmuch as the end is open. The two side-pieces of the handle on either side of the slot have been thinned down towards the ends for the better accommodation of the stone. Such implements were used, not to deliver heavy blows with, but to reduce a rough stone to a desired form by means of a tapping process. It is, in fact, a knapping-hammer.
David Malo, in his "Hawaiian Antiquities," remarks that "Axemakers were a greatly esteemed class in Hawaii." They used hard stone, some angular, some round in shape, called haku ka koi (?whatu ta toki in Maori), to hammer and chip the stone into a desired form. Previous, however, to such manipulation, the stone was placed "in a liquor made from vegetable juices, which was supposed page 49to make it softer."* The angular tang seen in so many Hawaiian stone adzes is called hauhana. A cloth wrapping was used as a means of protecting the lashing when the tool was in use. It was termed pare.
"The shell called ole served as an axe for some purposes, also a hard wood termed ala-hee. The adzes made of these were not equal to the stone tools." This wooden-bladed adze was used to cut the soft wiliwili wood, and for a few other purposes.
We have been informed by a man of the Tuhoe Tribe that his elders used to obtain pieces of stone from living rock by means of cutting grooves in the rock and then breaking the piece off. These pieces being of a rectangular form, or approaching thereto, were then further reduced in size by means of using a stone knapping-hammer. The deftness acquired by primitive folk in chipping and bruising stone into desired forms is truly remarkable.
"To obtain a piece of stone (from a mass of rock) wherefrom to fashion an implement, parallel grooves would be formed in the surface of the rock by means of a piece of sandstone used with sand and water. When worked sufficiently deep, then the intervening piece would be split off. This was the first step in the long process. The next was to chip the stone into rough form by means of striking it with a piece of kiripaka (quartz, &c.) … lashed securely to a handle. The piece of stone so used would be chipped to a rough point before being hafted. Both large and small hammers of this kind were used, the former for cleaving the block of stone to be operated upon, the latter for chipping into the required form. The mode of lashing was ingenious and secure (he mea kaui ki te hitau)."†
The above information was given by Paitini, of the Tuhoe Tribe. The stone termed by them kiripaka appears to the untrained bushman to be a kind of barren, somewhat crystalline, quartz.
* "The writer is informed that the natives of Alaska, in working walrus-ivory, first soak it a week or so in urine, by which means the material is sufficiently softened to facilitate greatly the working of it, and that, after it dries, the ivory is uninjured and becomes as hard as it was before."—"Primitive Methods of Drilling," by J. D. McGuire.
† "Journal of the Polynesian Society," vol. ii, p. 235.
Our informant states that the exposed part, or upper part, of a mass of stone is useless for such a purpose, that the underlying parts are much tougher, but that the best quality for such a purpose is stone that is found in water. This latter remark, he also claims, applies equally as well to nephrite, or greenstone.
Te Whatahoro states that adzes were made sometimes of mataa (flint, chert, or quartz).
The following interesting account of the manufacture of stone adzes we take from W.B.'s delightful book, "Where the White Man Treads": "I once asked my oracle, Kaha, Tell me, how did your ancestors manufacture their stone axes?' He was nothing if not practical; so he picked up a water-worn cobblestone, and, drawing a line round it near one side with a piece of charcoal, said, 'There, you see this line; now, my ancestor would select an oval water-worn stone the size of his intended axe (basalt, limestone, or jade, fine in the grain and without flaws). Then he took a chip of flint and scored a slight groove on the line where he wished the stone to split, and laid it beside a fire, with the flake side to the heat. Presently the piece would separate from the larger mass with great force. If the cleavage were successful he would have two sides ready shaped, and, marking off two lines the width of his intended axe, he would knap off the edges, chip by chip, up to his mark. When he reached this stage the greatest care and judgment would be exercised, so that none of the chipping went deeper than the finished surface should be. Then he took a round lump of flint, and, striking on the points of the rough projection, gradually bruised the whole surface to an even face, and of the correct outline. If in the first place his boulder had been of the right size and curve the water-worn face would require no retouching, and there remained now only the finishing. For this he would procure a block of sandstone, slightly hollowed on the face, to hold the water and sharp quartz sand; and the grinding, a to-and-fro motion, would begin. This might take months to accomplish, but with the consolation that the longer it took the better would be the tool. When his axe was finished it required a handle; so he sought out a thick sapling which had a branch growing at nearly right angles to the stem; this he would carefully cut bodily from the tree, leaving a solid block adhering. page 51After having shaped and slightly hollowed the outside face to receive the axe it was securely lashed thereto with a strong thong of plaited scraped flax-sinnet, perfectly dry, so that when, before use, it was dipped in water the lashing would swell, and thus hold the tool the firmer.' 'And how was this used?' I asked. 'By itself,' he explained, 'this tool was useless for felling trees, because, being adze-shaped, the blade lay the wrong way; therefore to fell trees we required another tool, long and narrow like a finger, which the pakeha (European) miscalls a chisel. It was used as such to cut away wood from narrow spaces, but its true use in felling trees was to score a groove above and below the kerf; then the large axe removed the remaining wood easily by chipping with the grain.'"
The above account explains how such stone hammers as the one illustrated were used, though they appear to have also been used without handles. They were bruising implements.
In a paper on "Methods of making Stone Weapons," by Paul Schumacher, published in the "Bulletin of the United States Geological Survey," the writer mentions that the Klamath Indians of Northern California exposed pieces of stone to fire ere flaking them into adzes, &c.: "For the manufacture of arrow and spear points, borers, adzes, &c., chert, chalcedony, jasper, agate, obsidian and similar stones of conchoidal fracture are used. The rock is first exposed to fire, and, after a thorough heating, rapidly cooled off, when it flakes readily into sherds of different sizes under well-directed blows at its cleavage." After the above operation the finer chipping or flaking was performed by means of pressure, not percussion, the implement used for the purpose being a piece of bone or horn secured to a wooden shaft. This process seems to have been unknown to the Maori, and the item taken from W.B.'s work is the only one that mentions the exposure to fire of the stone to be worked into a desired form.
The long narrow tool mentioned above was the one that was lashed lengthwise on a straight shaft, and used in tree-felling, as described elsewhere. With the blade in a horizontal position two rings or channels were cut or punched in the trunk, a few inches apart. Then a stone adze, used sideways, was employed in order to chip out the wood between the two horizontal channels or grooves. The process was repeated higher up the tree, two or three feet, according to the size of the tree, when another such kerf was formed. Then the ordinary stone adze was used sideways, or a straight, hafted, punching toki was used, with its cutting-edge in a vertical position, to split out the block of wood between the two kerfs. Such wood was, of course, page 52split out piecemeal as a rule, not in one block. In some cases, we are informed, wooden wedges were employed to split out the central block, such wedges being struck with a wooden maul (ta).
This process of tree-felling explains the aspect of the stump described by Tonga-awhikau, of Taranaki.
W.B. makes the following remark anent the manufacture of stone "axes": "A stone axe could only be shaped, consistent with strength, in one pattern." This remark applies not to the length or width of a stone adze or chisel, but to its varying degrees of thickness from cutting-edge to poll.
Mr. H. D. Skinner, in his paper on the "Maoris of Westland," says, "In cutting the greenstone they used a kind of stone found above the coal-mines at Brunnerton. This was split by fire and then used with water, as a kind of file or saw." This item is of interest, as it is a corroboration of a statement made by Te Whatahoro, and another by Paitini, of the Tuhoe Tribe, to the effect that their people were accustomed in former times to so shatter boulders, or separate blocks of stone from the mother rock. A fire was kept burning on the rock for some time, and then water was dashed over it.
In the Melanesian Island of New Britain fire was used in working stone, in the following manner, as related in Brown's "Melanesians and Polynesians": "A hole was bored through the stone, in which a long handle made of hard wood was inserted. The hole was chipped by means of a pointed stone. This work was facilitated by heating the part to be chipped by blowing on hot charcoal placed on it, and then pouring cold water on it." In this peculiar primitive method of working stone we note the dawning of the idea of our modern force-draught system, as also the ancient mode of shattering stone by means of fire and water.
It has been noted that the majority of finished Maori adzes and chisels have been ground all over; except the butt end, the whole implement being smooth, well-finished, and sightly; while in many cases the surfaces have also been polished until they resembled polished metal or hard stone surfaces polished by a modern lapidary.
For what purpose was a stone tool so ground and smoothed? It certainly was not for utility. For that purpose it would be quite sufficient to grind the cutting-edge, the bevel, and that face of the tool that comes into contact with the timber when the instrument is in use. It must be, then, that all the laborious and prolonged work of grinding the sides and upper part was simply to make the toc1 pleasing to the eye. As Mr. T. Wilson puts it, it is primitive art, one page 53of the earliest attempts of man to please the eye, as opposed to works of pure utility, as seen in the rough stone tools of the Tasmanians. Thus these New Zealand forms must have been ground all over for appearance, such a finish not being necessary to their working-qualities in a tool used for rough work. In the case of the semi-ceremonial implements and stone ornaments we would, however, expect to find a fine finish.
Professor von Haast, in his paper on "Stone Weapons of the Moriori and the Maori" (Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. xviii, p. 25), says, "The stone axes and other implements were first roughed out by fracturing and chipping with other ones* until the approximate shape was obtained…. After the approximate shape had been given to these stone axes the natives used grindstones." Mr. Shand states that the Morioris of the Chatham Islands retained and used stone tools until the advent of sealers and whalers, about 1830-36. Professor von Haast adds that the Moriori stone implements "are made of lydian stone, aphanite, dioritic and basaltic rocks, for the greater part doubtless obtained on the Chatham Islands; though there are some specimens in the Canterbury Museum, received from that locality, of chert and of some other material which appear to have been imported from New Zealand."
The stone weapons of the Moriori were made of argillaceous schist, to which the small layer of quartz, interlaminated with the argillaceous layers, gave a considerable degree of hardness.
The Rev. W. W. Gill, in speaking of the stone adzes of Mangaia (Cook Islands), says, "The native adze was with great labour chipped with pieces of flint out of bits of basalt. Some of these adzes are beautifully finished off, and constituted the gold and silver of former days. A present of two or three was usually sufficient to ensure protection to one of the vanquished."
The process of flaking was probably less used than any other by the Maori in his manufacture of implements, inasmuch as many of the stones utilized for such purposes did not lend themselves to such a mode of treatment, except obsidian, which was used principally for knives, long flakes being struck off a nucleus or core for that purpose. Such cores or pieces of obsidian were often carried by travellers, who could then flake off a cutting-implement when required. There is a fine globular core of this nature in the Dominion Museum, found on the Otago Peninsula near Dunedin, which shows marks of continual use, and which must have been brought by the Maoris from the Rotorua or Bay of Plenty districts.
* Presumably the writer meant "with other (rough) stones."
Captain Hutton states that tough stones were selected as flaking and chipping tools, "the green gabbro found near Nelson being one that was much prized by the Maoris for this purpose." He also says that after the rough shaping was done "the trimming process was accomplished by means of flaking-tools or fabricators, long, narrow, and blunt at each end, which were used as punches, probably being held in the hand and struck with a piece of wood." These picks or chippers may have been so used, but such old natives as we have consulted state that the pick was held in the hand and used in a pecking or punching manner. The Tuhoe folk employed this method in shaping round implements, such as patu muka (fibrebeaters), from a black volcanic stone, the surfaces of which were made even by bruising, but never ground. A process of battering or hammering was thus employed, the battering of the surface of a piece of stone with a rude stone hammer, to crush or pulverize the irregular surface thereof. According to Hutton this process "was chiefly used on the coarser-grained rocks, such as diorite and quartzite, which did not flake well."
Rude stone hammers and chippers, &c., are sometimes found in considerable numbers at places that are termed "workshops," whereat stone implements were fashioned by the neolithic Maori of yore. Some of the large water-worn stones seen on the sites of old native hamlets were probably used as anvils on which to fashion stone implements.
In former times there were always certain men who were adepts in the manufacture of stone adzes, and passed much of their time in such work. Thus, persons desiring such a tool would obtain one from such an expert by means of barter, giving in exchange therefor a cloak or some other item. Every man did not make his own implements of this class, hence we here see the beginning of specializing in manufacture among a primitive people.
In describing an old manufactory of stone implements at the mouth of the Otoki Creek, Brighton, Otago, Professor J. von Haast says, "Quite a thick layer of cores, implements, flakes, and chips exists, all manufactured from hard basaltic boulders." (See Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. xii, p. 152.)
For further descriptions of old Maori workshops of stone implements, see Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. xii, p. 150, and vol. xxxv, p. 240. At one of these, described by Professor von Haast, were found "rude adzes and knives, mostly chipped from basaltic boulders obtained in the neighbourhood; however, similar tools made of flint, chert, quartz, and chalcedony are also represented…. Some page 55few perfect and more-numerous broken polished stone implements, flakes, and chips were found at this place. Some large flat boulders of basalt were lying amongst the manufactured material, having doubtless been used as working-tables by the savage artificers, while long, thin, and roundish boulders of mica-schist, close to them, had evidently been employed as flaking-tools or fabricators…. There is a great probability that many, if not all the more perfect specimens in the form of adzes, were destined to be polished at a more propitious season and in a more favourable locality. On the other hand, the form and finish of a number of knives, saws, drills, and spear-heads suggest that they were used in this more primitive condition." It must not be supposed from this mention of spear-heads that the Maori used stone heads or points on his fighting-spears, for he did nothing of the kind.
Some interesting remains of old stone-working places have been noted on D'Urville Island, as also on the adjacent parts of the main-land.
In Mr. Meeson's account of the exploration of Monck's Cave, near Sumner, Canterbury, he speaks of a large number of stone implements having been found: "Over a dozen adzes, some highly finished, some very rude, … a number of greenstone chisels (one gouge-shaped), and a large quantity of pieces of obsidian, fragments of basalt, and flakes or blocks of chert or flint, showing that such rude stone tools as the denizens of the cave required they were in the habit of fashioning on the spot."