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The Stone Implements of the Maori

Rectangular Cross-section, or with Rounded Longitudinal Edges

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.