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The Stone Implements of the Maori

Triangular Cross-section

Triangular Cross-section

Some of the thick forms of adze are triangular in cross-section. These triangular-specimens usually diminish in size from the shoulder, in width and thickness, both toward the poll and toward the cutting-edge. Thus the width of the cutting-edge may be less than half that of the implement at its widest part—that is, across the shoulder. Some, however, preserve the same width from the cutting-edge right back to within a short distance of the poll, where they are worked down smaller, made both narrower and thinner at that part where enclosed by the lashing. These forms must have been hafted as adzes, which is shown by the butt ends having been worked down so as to form a convenient resting-place or bed for the lashing. Used as adzes, the narrow-edged wide-shouldered form would cut or form a shallow rectangular channel; but such channel cannot have been carried to any depth, inasmuch as the sides of the blade, expanding from cutting-edge to shoulder, would come in contact with the sides of the channel formed in the worked timber, and so destroy the effect of the blow, or, rather, such effect would be the bruising of the sides of the channel, and not the cutting or deepening of it.

Some of these triangular forms are convex longitudinally on the face, others are straight or nearly so, save the slight bevel seen in ordinary forms that help to form the blade. It must be observed that the face of these specimens is simply the apex of the triangle shown page 272in cross-section, the flat face, or back of the tool, being the base of the triangle, and which is placed against the "foot" of the handle when hafted. The only places whereat the triangular aspect of the cross-section is marred is near the cutting-edge, where the slight bevel of the face takes the apex off the triangle, and, in some cases, at the butt end the face is worked down and rounded off in order to give the lashing a better grip. In one specimen noted, the sharp face—that is, the apex of the triangle—has been flaked off its whole length.

One very curious specimen, with a true chisel-point formed by a bevel on one side only, is extremely puzzling, inasmuch as this bevel or facet is on the face of the tool instead of the back. This means that the apex of the triangle would be against the foot of the handle when hafted, an impossible position, as it would be so difficult to lash it securely or to keep it steady. The only reason that can be assigned for this is that the tool, which is but chipped into form and has never been ground, was apparently made from a natural form of stone by merely chipping off slight irregularities. On all three faces, and even on the bevel or facet that forms the cutting-edge, are plainly seen portions of the original water-worn surface of the stone. Thus, in the stone when found, the blade, cutting-edge, and triangular body of the implement were already formed, merely requiring a little chipping and grinding in order to turn out a completed tool. The chipping has been done, but no sign of grinding appears, and it is evident that the implement has never been used. Possibly the workman rejected it on account of it not being suitable for helving.

A specimen, triangular in cross-section and of great comparative thickness, albeit unground and hence not finished, has the base of the triangle at its back, the face being the apex of the triangle (see Fig. 55, Plate XVI). Native experts maintain that this is a potuki, or pounder, not a toki. This item is of diorite, is 8 in. long, and weights 1½ lb. The face is flattened at the blade end, but forms a narrow ridge thence backward to the poll. The back is 1⅞ in. wide at the shoulder, from which point it narrows down to the poundingedge, and backward to the poll. The latter is 1⅛ in. wide, and the former ¾ in. wide. The thickness is 2¼ in. at the shoulder, and decreases to 1¼ in. at the poll. The angle of inclination is about 60° on the lower part thereof, and 50° higher up. The blade—if such a term be not a misnomer—is of great thickness. These pounders had no handles attached, but were held in the hand.

Another specimen of potuki, or pounder (Fig. 56, Plate XVI), also 8 in. long, and weighing 2 lb., is not really triangular in section, but page 273has a semicircular face. The face is markedly convex longitudinally, the butt end being chipped down for 3 in., leaving a shoulder 3 in. from the poll, and a ridge at the poll also, thus forming a hand-grip. The width of the pounding-edge is 1⅛ in., and of the butt end, near the poll, the same. Thickness at shoulder, 2⅜ in. The back is straight longitudinally, and somewhat convex transversely, with a blade-bevel 2¾ in. long, of which the angle of inclination near the cutting-edge is 80°. Higher up the blade it drops to about 50°. The stone is grauwacke, with slate inclusions.

These triangular forms are found in various stages of manufacture. Many have been roughly chipped into form and then bruised, but have no sign of grinding on their surfaces. Others are partially ground, while some have been ground all over, and are well-finished tools.

Fig. 56a, Plate XXIV, shows a remarkably thick form that was probably used as a pounder or pestle (potuki or tuki), which would explain not only the thick blade of an 80° angle in its lower part, but also the well-rounded upper part and smoothly rounded poll. Thus it would present a good hand-grip if used for pounding. Surfaces have been "bruised" to an even finish, and a portion thereof ground smooth. Length, 7 in.; width, 2¼ in.; thickness, 1¾ in.; weight, 2 lb. Material, a fine indurated sandstone.

A very singular specimen is one that has been broken across the middle (see Fig. 57, Plate XIV). So obtuse, however, is the angle of the blade—if blade be not a misnomer—and so peculiar its form, that it evidently never formed part of an adze. It is triangular in section, and must have been a heavy implement ere it was broken. It is 3 in. in thickness or depth at the shoulder, and 2½ in. wide at the same part. Speaking of it as though it were an adze, the apex of the triangular section is the face of the tool, which is bevelled or curved for about 2 in. from the cutting-edge. The bevel on the other face—that is, the back—is 4 in. long, is convex longitudinally, but, strange to say, concave laterally. This concavity is quite pronounced, and continued right down to the point. Its surface is also finely polished, as are the two side surfaces for some distance back from the point. So peculiar is the form of this item that it would be a misnomer to apply the term "cutting-edge" to the point. It is difficult to see any use in the transverse concavity. The sides are markedly convex laterally. This implement cannot have been of the slightest use as a cutting-tool, but it has been carefully polished. It has been rubbed lengthwise on stone, both concave and convex surfaces showing longitudinal striæ plainly. It is of a hard black diorite, and weighs page 2742¾ lb. It may have been used as a rubber or burnisher of some sort, or as a pounder or beater.

Some of the triangular cross-section adzes have the butt end pecked down so as to round off the face, and leave a shoulder on the apex or face. This reduced part extends in some cases nearly half-way down the tool, and was evidently intended to accommodate the lashing. Save across such places and across the blade, these forms show a triangular cross-section throughout.

We may also note some small stone tools showing a triangular cross-section. Some of these may have been used as small adzes, but many were undoubtedly utilized as chisels. Some are described under that head. Long stone tools, with a triangular cross-section, found in the British Isles are spoken of as picks by Evans.

An adze of short thick form in Mr. A. H. Turnbull's collection has a thick blade that is concave transversely to a marked extent, like a hollow gouge. It has also a heavy butt reduction. Length, 7 in.; width across cutting-edge, 1⅝ in., narrowing backward to 1⅜ in. at the butt end. Thickness, 1½ in. Face slightly convex both ways. Face and sides worked down heavily for 2¾ in. from the poll, leaving a prominent shoulder, and a slight ridge near the poll. The back is straight and flat both ways, as also are the sides. The latter trend inward to the back, which is thus narrower than the face. The thick blade is 2½ in. long, and the bevel on the back is deeply concave transversely from cutting-edge to shoulder, more so than in any other specimen examined. In this respect, and with this restriction, it is emphatically unique. Angle of inclination of blade, from 40° to 30°. The surface has been dressed to an even finish, but the blade only is polished.

Another thick specimen (Fig. 58, Plate XXVIII) in the Museum has apparently been made to be used as an adze, but in grinding two short bevels on the blade the cutting-edge has been formed in the axial centre of the tool. In regard to these bevels it resembles a toki whakangao, for an account of which see under "Normal Forms." The face is worked down slightly at the butt end, to accommodate the lashing. Length, 10in.; weight, 41b. Width across cutting-edge, 2¼ in.; across a point 2 in. back from cutting-edge, 2⅝ in. full; across poll, 1¾ in. Thickness, 2⅛ in. at line of butt shoulder (2½ in. from poll), from which point it decreases both ways. The face is considerably convex longitudinally, and slightly so laterally. The back is also convex both ways, but to a less extent; in fact, it looks almost flat, until a straight-edge is applied thereto. The sides are very slightly convex both ways, and these also look flat. As in most of these thick forms, the poll is rounded and of even surface. The item page 275of interest lies in the two short blade-bevels, one on the face and one on the back, each of which has its prominent shoulder. The face bevel is ¾ in., and the back bevel ⅞ in., thus making an extremely short blade, though the gradual convergence of face and back from as far back as the slight butt shoulder renders such short bevels quite feasible and effective. The cutting-edge is straight, and the angle of inclination formed by the two abrupt bevels fully 70°. This tool is ground to an even surface on every part, including the poll. The material is sandstone, with fragments of slate. Although ground all over, yet the surface is not smooth and polished, save on the two short facets. Apparently the tool has been ground on a rough sandstone, and the blade-facets only have been polished.

In Fig. 59, Plate XXVIII, we have another thick type, made of reddish sandstone, with a curious transverse ridge on the shoulder. This implement is 9 in. long, 2⅜ in. wide across the cutting-edge, and 2 in. wide near the poll. The width across the shoulder on the back is 2¼ in., but the width across the face opposite the shoulder is 2⅝ in., and this comparative narrowness of the back is carried throughout its length. Thickness in middle, 1¾ in. The sides, though sloping inwards to the back, are almost flat and straight throughout their length. Both face and back are convex transversely, as is usual, but the former only is convex longitudinally, the back being straight from the butt end to the ridge that rises somewhat abruptly at the shoulder-line. The ridge is quite prominent, and, instead of being straight, as most of them are, is curved in, with the crown of the curve toward the butt end. Thus the bevel of the blade is carried on above the plane of the back, and terminates in an almost semicircular sweep. The face and edges at the butt end have been bruised down for 3½ in. in order to accommodate the lashing, but no prominent shoulder has been left at the terminating-point of such bruising. The poll has been rounded off to some extent, but shows a rough unground fracture. The cutting-edge is slightly curved, the blade-bevel on face also slight, that on the back is convex to a marked extent longitudinally, as is usual, and slightly so transversely, also a common form. The whole implement has been remarkably well bruised and partially ground smooth—viz., the whole of the blade and one side, and the face as far as the reduced butt end. The back is not ground smooth, but the work of doing so had just been commenced, which may also be said of the unground side, which has one edge ground smooth. This is one of the most interesting specimens in the Museum collection, and is a good illustration of fine bruising-work in its unground parts. Angle of inclination of the blade, 60° to 40°. Weight, 3 lb.