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The Stone Implements of the Maori

With Rounded or Shouldered Butt Ends

With Rounded or Shouldered Butt Ends

In a number of implements we meet with a special mode of fashioning the butt end on the face, or sides and face, or face and longitudinal edges only, so that the lashing will fit and grip the butt in a better manner than if the edges were left more sharp. Also, if the edges were left at all sharp at the butt end, the lashing would soon be severed by the rasping abrasion when the tool was being page 257used. This dressing-down of the butt end is not confined to any particular form of adze, but may be seen on implements of divers shapes. This reduced part is often alluded to as "the handle," which is quite absurd. No Maori toki, or adze, was ever used without a proper wooden handle. Any item used without such was either a patu (beater) or tuki (syn., potuki), an implement used endwise, as a pestle or pounder. The majority of adzes have not been fashioned with a shoulder at the butt end, but the specimens so formed are sufficiently numerous to call for some remarks thereon. This reducing in size has apparently been done by means of light chipping and bruising. In working hard, free-chipping, volcanic stone it is surprising to note how even a surface is left by these aboriginal workmen by means of bruising. Implements such as fibre-beaters, fashioned by means of chipping and bruising, exhibit a most symmetrical outline and even surface, though, of course, not smooth.

The reducing and rounding-off of the butt end of the specimens under notice has been done in varying degrees of depth. In some the face has been dressed down for a distance of about 3 in. from the poll quite deeply, thus leaving a prominent transverse shoulder on the tool. In such cases the contour of the face of the reduced part is semicircular, inasmuch as the longitudinal edges of such part have been pecked and bruised off in order to allow the lashing to fit closely and be pulled tight. The back is not interfered with, being left flat, so that its whole width rests on the foot or face of the handle. In a few cases the shoulder has been supplemented in height by means of a transverse ridge left on the face when the adze was fashioned. To leave such a ridge must have entailed a considerable amount of extra labour in forming the implement, and have lengthened the process of grinding, for if the tool were rubbed lengthwise on the grinding-stone the ridge would be ground off. Hence, in grinding the parts adjacent to the ridge, the tool must have been either rubbed sideways on the stone, or a hand grinding-stone was used by rubbing it across the tool.

The effect of such a shoulder would be that the lashing would be confined to the reduced part of the butt end, and when the tool was in use the shoulder would prevent its being forced up under the lashing.

In a specimen from Riverton, 10½ in. long, the reduced and rounded-off part extends from the poll for 3 in. along the face. In another, 4½ in. long, the worked-down part is 2½ in. long. In yet another, 6½ in. long, it is 1¾ in. in length. Evidently each adze-maker used his own discretion as to the form of his manufactures.

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In one small adze, 5 in. long, the hollowed part extends for 2 in. on the face (see Fig. 43, Plate VII), but is somewhat longer on the sides and edges. As in other cases, this hollowed part has been formed or finished by pecking or bruising. The blade has been ground, but not so the sides, which have been left in a roughly chipped state. There are some other peculiarities connected with this specimen; one is the unusual expansion at the blade, which is 3 in. wide at the cutting-edge; also the length of the face of the blade, which extends from the cutting-edge to the shoulder formed by the hollowed butt end. The blade is convex longitudinally and transversely, hence this cutting-edge is curved like that of a very shallow gouge. Weight, 13 oz. The material is fine sandstone, almost an aphanite.

Fig. 43a, Plate XXIV, presents a most symmetrical form, with shouldered butt end and a keen flawless cutting-edge. It is in the Buller Collection, now in the Dominion Museum. All surfaces have been ground smooth except the butt end, which would be covered by the lashing. Its sole flaw is on the back, where a chip has been struck out a little too deep near one side. Otherwise this specimen is perfect in form and finish. Its length is 10 in.; width across cutting-edge 2½ in., at poll 1⅜ in.; thickness, 1½ in. The back is slightly concave longitudinally, and the sides fall inward from face to back. Face, back, and sides are slightly convex transversely. The butt end of the face has been deeply reduced for lashing. Weight, 2¾ lb. The longitudinal edges are sharply defined, as is usual in specimens with narrowed backs, albeit not universal. The blade-angle runs from about 50° to 30°. The material is a greenish diorite ash.

In some cases the butt end has been lightly dressed down, or has merely the edges chipped off, and no prominent shoulder is seen on such (see Fig. 58, Plate XXVIII). One specimen shows the face quite untouched, but the two sides have been worked down so as to form a shoulder on each side, as in Fig. 32, Plate VII.

In but very few cases has any ridge or projection been left or formed at the extreme end of the tool—that is, at the poll—when the butt end was rounded off or reduced in size. In two or three cases we note that a slight ridge occurs at the poll, but it cannot have been of much use.

A specimen of this type (Fig. 44, Plate VIII) that shows an unusually deep reduction of the face at the butt end is 11½ in. long, and weighs 3¼ lb. It is 2 in. wide across the cutting-edge, and narrows gradually to 1¼ in. at the poll. Thickness in middle, 1⅞ in. The face has a somewhat heavy longitudinal curve, especially on the blade page 259end, and is also convex transversely. The back is somewhat narrower than the face, quite flat transversely, and slightly convex longitudinally. A light transverse ridge crosses the shoulder-line of the blade. The sides are slightly convex longitudinally. In cross-section the tool is almost rectangular, the longitudinal edges being sharply defined. The butt has been worked down for some 3½ in. from the poll, on the face and edges, to the depth of nearly ½ in., leaving a steep and prominent shoulder. The blade is nearly 3¾ in. long, its angle of inclination near the cutting-edge being nearly 60°, but only about 20° on the upper part. The material is sandstone, with fragments of slate.

Another specimen, less deeply reduced at the butt end, is 10¾ in. long, and weighs 3 lb. 4 oz. The worked-down part of the butt extends for 3 in., but the shoulder is not prominent, save on the edges. The face of this tool is convex both ways, and beautifully smooth. The back is almost straight and flat. Across the shoulder is a slight supplementary ridge. The blade is long, quite 4 in., and the thickness just behind the shoulder 1½ in. The cutting-edge is slightly gouge-like, caused by the transverse convexity of the face. The angle of inclination is about 45° near the cutting-edge and 30° on the upper part of the blade.

In Fig. 44a, Plate XXXII, is seen a short thick form of adze. The material is nephrite, and in comparison with its length it is unusually thick for a nephrite implement. The original was found in the South Island, and is in the Otago University Museum. The Dominion Museum possesses a cast of it. This item is 7 in. long, 2 in. wide across the cutting-edge, the width decreasing backward to a narrow poll, which shows the rough fractured aspect usual in nephrite forms. Otherwise all its surfaces possess a smooth finish. Its thickest part is at the abrupt shoulder towards the butt end, which has been much reduced for 2½ in. to accommodate the lashing. It is very seldom that such a reduction is bounded by so pronounced and abrupt a shoulder. There is, moreover, a slight projection at the poike, or poll, that would serve to contain the lashing. The blade is short and thick for a nephrite tool, and the bevel on the back is slightly concave transversely. There are two marks of sawing-cuts that have not been quite ground out. Thickness at shoulder, 1¼ in.; at butt shoulder, 1⅜ in.

Specimens having shouldered and rounded butt ends are described in detail under other headings (see Figs. 63, 66, 92, 94, Plates XIII, XIIIA, XIV, and XVI).

Fig. 44b, Plate XXXII, illustrates a curious and, in one respect, apparently unique form, which may possibly be deemed somewhat page 260out of place in this division, inasmuch as it possesses no shouldered butt. It has, however, a peculiar substitute for a reduced butt end, in a number of transverse grooves formed on the face side of the butt end. These grooves number thirteen, and would undoubtedly tend to give the lashing a firm grip on the tool.

This item is 6½ in. long, 1⅜ in. wide across the (broken) cutting-edge, and 1¼ in. thick at the shoulder, its thickest part. Both sides show marks of sawing-cuts or grooves, where pieces have been cut off, which grooves have not been ground completely out, otherwise the tool has been well ground save at the poll. The blade-bevel is markedly concave transversely, thus imparting a gouge-like aspect to the tool. The cutting-edge has been badly fractured. This item is made of a light-coloured nephrite, and was presented by Captain Fraser to the Otago University Museum.

It must be noted that in reducing the butt end the method employed was one of chipping and bruising, the part being bruised or hammered to an even surface, but not ground. This gave the lashing a good grip; which a smooth surface would not do. It is also a fact that the bruising process was employed, whereby to prepare a chipped surface for grinding, to a much greater extent than is generally supposed.