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The Stone Implements of the Maori

The Sides

The Sides

Forms with parallel sides are vary rare among adzes, though more common in chisels. There is nearly always a certain amount of tapering in width toward the butt end. In some of the long narrow adzes, however, this tapering is but slight. One such is 10 in. long, 1¾ in. wide at the cutting-edge, and 1⅜ in. wide at the butt end, near the poll. Another is 15 in. long, 2 in. wide at the cutting-edge, and carries that width to within 2 in. of the poll. This is an extremely uncommon form.

Even diminutive forms, from 1½ in. in length and upwards, have sides usually tapering from the cutting-edge, or shoulder, to the butt end. The wedge-shaped or axe-shaped type carries its width throughout more than does the adze-form, but is often widest in the middle. In describing the stone chisels we shall note a good many cases of parallel, or almost parallel, sides. We may state that in most cases in the implements of adze-shape, which are far the most numerous, the width of the tool diminishes from the cutting-edge back to the poll. In some cases the sides taper from the middle to the poll; in yet others, from the middle toward each end. In very few cases are the sides parallel; the 15 in. one quoted above is a rare example. Occasionally one notes a specimen in which the sides are parallel for about three-quarters of the length of the adze, when they taper somewhat toward the poll.

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Occasionally we note a specimen in which the sides are not vertical, but are inclined inwards, making the back of the adze narrower than the face. In a few cases this inclination is quite pronounced, and in a thick tool it results in a curious form—midway between the rectangular and triangular, or subtriangular, shapes. Some of the most symmetrical and best-finished adzes are of this form. A form with the face narrower than the back is much rarer. In one item of the first-mentioned type the face of the tool is 2½ in. wide in the middle, but the back is only 1⅞ in. Another shows a difference of 1 in. In a good many specimens the sides incline inwards slightly to the back, making the latter a very little narrower than the face. A few adzes with inclined sides have a transverse ridge on the shoulder-line. It is quite probable that some, if not all, of these tools acquired their sloping sides from the form of the roughly chipped stone ere it was ground, albeit we have no proof that it was not intentional.

In a few cases the sides taper gradually both ways from the shoulder, which is thus the widest part of the tool. Occasionally is seen a specimen with a side or sides somewhat concave longitudinally, which may not have been intentional on the part of the fabricator. As a rule, the sides are convex, both longitudinally and transversely. Specimens with perfectly flat sides are usually of a small type, or have narrow sides. The convexity of sides and faces has probably been caused by grinding more at and near the edges than in the middle, and not by chipping. This is the easiest way of grinding a surface, and results in a bevelling of the edges and the imparting of a convex outline to the ground surface. It is not so tedious a process to grind a narrow edge perfectly flat; and we shall meet with such edges among the thin tools. In the specimens chipped ready for the grinder, but not yet ground at all, we note no convexity, the sides being flat and straight; hence such convexity is evidently the result of grinding—and grinding by the easiest and quickest method. In the few cases where perfectly flat sides and rectangular edges are met with in the larger type of adzes we may note that such are of the highest type of form and finish. Some such items resemble polished metal in appearance.

Another form, in which the inclined sides are not bounded by any well-defined upper edge, but merge into a rounded back, is described elsewhere. This form shows a semicircular cross-section, and is rare.

In a good many cases among medium-sized and small adzes the sides are much rounded, and a cross-section would be of a flattened oval form. To show a rectangular section would entail much more labour and care, and the tool would have to be ground by rubbing page 225it on a plane surface of sandstone, the usual method of rubbing it in a groove tending to round the longitudinal edges.

The thickest part of an adze axially is usually the centre, owing to the transverse convexity so common in these tools.