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The Stone Implements of the Maori

Petaloid Form

Petaloid Form

Oval section. An unusual type of stone adze is represented by several specimens of an almost petaloid form, reminding the observer of West Indian specimens, and also of several British examples described by Evans. Of the few New Zealand specimens of this form, however, none are so sharply pointed at the poll as is fig. 52 in Evans's work.

One of this type in the Museum is thought to have been found at the Chatham Islands, the stone being decomposed feldspar. In cross-section it is almost a perfect oval, and carries a curved cutting-edge (see Fig. 83, Plate X). It has an adze-like blade, and has been ground over the whole of its surface, which, however, seems to be page 297much weathered. It is widest at the cutting-edge, from which the rounded sides curve convergently to an almost conical poll. Length, 7 in.; width, 2¾ in. across cutting-edge; thickness, 1⅜ in. Weight, 22 oz.

Another specimen (Fig. 84, Plate X), a local one, is less petaloid in shape, the rounded sides not being so convex longitudinally, nor is the poll so pointed. The material is mudstone. The face also is somewhat flattened on the lower part of the tool, hence that portion does not show an oval section, though the upper part does. The blade is of adze-form, the cutting-edge somewhat curved, and slightly oblique. The length of this specimen is 6½ in., and it is 2⅜ in. wide at the shoulder, its widest part. About one-half of its surface has been ground. Weight, 16 oz. Another tool of similar form is 8½ in. long. In specimens where the transverse convexity is considerable and persistent on the face, it follows that its intersection with the bevel-facet of the blade produces a curved cutting-edge, like that of a shallow gouge. (For another example see Plate LI.)

The truly conical poll is seen in a specimen in Mr. A. H. Turnbull's collection. This tool has the sharpest, most pointed poll seen in any of the hundreds of stone adzes under inspection. It is most unlike the ordinary Maori form. The wide straight cutting-edge detracts from its petaloid appearance, but were it somewhat rounded the tool might well pass for a West Indian implement, or a European type mentioned by Sir John Evans. This specimen is well formed, but only partially ground, and the cutting-edge is broken. Its length is 7 in. Width across cutting-edge, 3 in., from which its straight rounded sides taper off to the pointed poll. The face is convex longitudinally and much rounded transversely. At the butt end a cross-section would be almost cylindrical. A slight ridge has been left 2½ in. from the poll. The back is straight and flat, the blade very thin, and carries an angle of 30° near the cutting-edge and of about 20° higher up. It would be of interest to know how this tool was hafted.

In the same collection is the butt end of another peculiar form, showing a cross-section somewhat pyramidal in form. The sides slope inwards to a narrow flat face, which is thus much narrower than the back. This flattened face runs out to a point at the butt shoulder, 2½ in. from the poll, on which shoulder-point is a curious little knob, from which point the face has been much pecked down to near the poll, whereon another, but smaller, knob has been left.

In Fig. 85a, Plate XXII, we have a large specimen with an almost oval cross-section throughout the greater part of its length. The back and sides bear out the ovoid aspect, but the face is flattened, save at page 298the butt end, whereat it is much rounded. This tool is 13¾ in. long, 4 in. wide across the cutting-edge, narrowing to 2⅜ in. across the poll. Thickness, 1¾ in. Weight, 6¼ lb. Material, fine black aphanite. So rounded are the sides of this item that they present no resemblance of an edge or ridge, and no marked shoulder-line exists. Angle of blade, about 45° near the cutting-edge, dropping to 30° higher up. The blade and face are well ground, and present a smooth surface, albeit faint striæ caused by grinding operations are visible at several places. On the sides and back grinding had just been commenced, those parts presenting surfaces reduced in a very even manner by bruising rather than pecking. At the poll, on the face side, are two slight projections that would serve to contain the lashing.

One of the most interesting types of stone adzes noted is a curious subtriangular form from the Chatham Islands, which are situated 536 miles east of Lyttelton, in the South Island of New Zealand. The specimen here described is in the collection of Mr. A. H. Turnbull (see Fig. 85b. Plate XXI). It is a small item, but well formed and extremely well finished, every part, including the poll, having been ground smooth. Its only blemish is a small fracture on the face. This item is essentially an adze, and is 6 in. long and 1 13/16 in. wide across the cutting-edge, from which point it decreases evenly in width back to the poll, where it shows a width of 1¼ in. on the face and ¾ in. on the back. Its thickness at the shoulder is ¾ in., which is preserved backward to within 1¼ in. of the poll, where the face has been reduced in order to facilitate lashing to a haft. The face is, as is usual in such forms, convex longitudinally and transversely; the back is straight longitudinally, but very slightly convex transversely. The sides are slightly concave longitudinally, but to so small an extent that it is scarcely noticeable until a straight-edge is applied thereto. The sides slope inward from face to back to a marked extent, so that the latter is ½ in. narrower than the face. Thus a cross-section would appear as somewhat of a truncated pyramid-form. Had the tool been ¾ in. thicker its form would have been triangular in section. One side is slightly thicker than the other, which destroys absolute symmetry of form, but such are matters of close observation. The blade shows an angle of about 50° on its lower part, and is well finished, the length of the blade from cutting-edge to shoulder being 1¼ in. On the face a short bevel of ¼ in. has been ground to form the cutting-edge, an unusual feature, and it may be the result of grinding out a former gap in the edge, which is keen and flawless. The chief peculiarity of this tool is at the poll, whereat two horns or projections have been left, one at each face corner, in order to contain the lashing. The butt page 299end of the face has been ground down for a length of 1¼ in., with the exception of these two lugs, which would certainly much assist the retention of the tool by the lashing, albeit an unusual feature. The hollow space between these lugs can only have been formed by rasping out the material between them with a narrow piece of sandstone, as we use a file or rasp. The material is a fine-grained black stone, and the whole of the tool has been carefully ground to an even surface, but has later been exposed to drifting sand which has slightly affected the surface, except the blade, in a curious manner, imparting to it somewhat the aspect of a piece of worm-eaten wood that has been planed so as to expose slight channels or grooves. The weight of the tool is 9 oz.

The Dominion Museum possesses a cast of an unusual type of adze in the Otago University Museum that might be termed either subtriangular or ovoid in cross-section, for it approaches both. This implement has been ground except the poll, which is rough (see Fig. 85c, Plate XXX). Its length is 15 in.; width across cutting-edge, 4¼ in.; at butt end, 2 in. Thickest part, at shoulder, is about 1¾ in. The unusual thinness of body and blade for so large an item show that it was not used for heavy work. The sides of this tool are merely edges, to which the face and back fall away. The more pronounced transverse convexity of the back prevents a cross-section being truly ovoid. This pronounced roundness of the back is continued to the poll; hence we infer that the foot of the handle must have been hollowed somewhat, in order to accommodate itself to the form of the adze. The face has been slightly reduced for 3½ in. at the butt end, to facilitate lashing. The blade is 4 in. from shoulder to cutting-edge, and is markedly concave transversely, being also unusually thin. This is the form of adze that was used in finishing off the interior of a canoe, &c., the result being not a plane surface, but a series of long, parallel, shallow grooves or channels. This ovoid form is unusual. This tool is from the west coast of the South Island, the material being a grey stone.

The New Zealand forms mentioned above much resemble in outline fig. 68 in Evans's "Ancient Stone Implements of Great Britain," 1897 edition, and also in section, though the form of blade differs from English types. The expansion of Evans's fig. 68 at the blade is not met with in the New Zealand specimens.