The Stone Implements of the Maori
VII. Handles of Toki And chisels — The Hafting of Adzes and Chisels
VII. Handles of Toki And chisels
The Hafting of Adzes and Chisels
In the first place, we hasten to say that no New Zealand forms were helved by passing the handle through a hole in the tool itself. This method does not seem to have ever been known to the Maori until the arrival of Europeans on these shores, although the Rev. R. Taylor, author of "Te Ika a Maui," says that one Hahakai, an old tohunga well versed in old Maori lore, who in 1840 lived at Parapara, on the road from Kai-taia to Doubtless Bay, stated that before his ancestors came to New Zealand they lived at Hawaiki, Mata-te-ra, and Wai-rota, and that in an adjacent land there were beasts that carried men on their backs, and that in some of the islands there were axes having holes in them, through which the handles were thrust, and so did not require tying on.
The Maori, as a rule, hafted his toki or stone celts as adzes or as chisels. In the former case the tool was, of course, set at somewhat less than a right angle to the handle, as in our modern steel adzes. When helved as chisels the tool was lashed on in a line with the handle, the cutting-edge being at a right angle to the shaft.
Mr. C. C. Abbott, in his work on "The Stone Age in New Jersey," says, "It is strange that when so many stones were carefully drilled for other purposes no axe or hammer is known that was drilled, instead of being grooved, for the handle." A similar remark might be made in regard to New Zealand forms. The Maori understood how to drill holes in stone implements and ornaments for suspension, &c., but did not helve his celts by boring a hole therein for the handle to pass through. It is highly probable that a stone axe, celt, or adze would be too much weakened by such a hole, and hence would be liable to break when used in heavy work, unless the head of the implement was much larger than is seen in New Zealand forms—and in most foreign stone forms for that matter. In Scandinavia stone hoes were perforated for handles. In all the illustrations of perforated stone axes, hammers, &c., given in Evans's fine work, we note that the implement has been specially evolved and formed for perforation for the handle by so fashioning the tool that it is much thicker at that part where the perforation was made. This, of course, was to prevent the tool breaking at the part weakened by the drilled hole. Again, it will be noted that in these perforated axes (for they are true axes), hammers, &c., the tools have been bored in the middle or, in some cases, toward the upper end, or head, but never near the poll. Not only was this to guard against breakage, but the makers of page 112these implements knew, probably from experience, that to thicken the tool sufficiently at the poll to enable it to withstand the shock of a heavy blow would render it so top-heavy and ill balanced that it would be a very awkward implement to use, and be a severe strain on the arms of the operator. This will be readily understood by an axeman. This boring of the stone axe of primitive man in the middle was undoubtedly the origin of the modern double-bitted steel axe, the highest form of the axe-maker's art. The double-edged or double-bladed stone axe found in many lands is evidently an ancient form, and seems to have been used as a sacred emblem in southern Asia in times long passed away.
"In the cave at Dicte, in Crete, was Zeus born. In this cave the Cretans dedicated models of the bronze double axe which typified, and was an acceptable offering to, their nature goddess…. Then the old aniconic, with its sacred axe and pillar and shield, passed away." (From a lecture on "Ancient Greek Civilization," by Professor Woodhouse.)
In like manner we see the prototype of the finest forms of modern steel poll-axes in stone tools of long-past ages, as witness fig Evans's work.
Sir John Evans, in his fine work on ancient stone implements, has shown how in many lands the stone celts found in the earth are, or have been, looked upon as being of supernatural origin, and often held in veneration. From many works on many lands he quotes remarks that stone celts are "revered as relics of long-deceased ancestors" (China); "are venerated as sacred … adorned with red paint" (India); "are preserved as sacred relics" (West Africa); "are supposed to have preservative virtues"; "assist the birth of children"; "are looked upon as thunderbolts"; "cure various disorders," &c. He goes on to say that "The hatchet appears in ancient times to have had some sacred importance among the Greeks…. Bacchus was in one instance, at all events, worshipped under the form of a hachet…. A Chaldean cylinder on which a priest is represented as making an offering to a hatchet placed upright on a throne … the Egyptian hieroglyph 'Nouter,' God, is simply the figure of an axe."
In connection with the above we may refer to what may be termed the "axe cult" of southern Asia, and the use of the double-bladed axe as a religious symbol. Information on this point may be noted in Hewitt's "Primitive Traditional History."
We note elsewhere the peculiar myths pertaining to greenstone, or nephrite, among the Maori people. It is spoken of as a fish, and one Poutini seems to be a personification of the greenstone, though Poutini also appears as a star-name.page 113
Mr. Abbott does not seem to think that the Indians of North America used any stone tools hafted as adzes—at least, he does not suggest it. Speaking of celts, or ungrooved axes, he says, "No trace of a handle having been attached can be detected." We know that our New Zealand celts were helved as adzes or chisels, but in many specimens there is nothing about the implement itself to denote that a handle has been attached. In some cases the upper part has been rounded off, bevelled, or reduced, so as to give the lashing a better grip. The chisel (fig. 138) in Mr. Abbott's work would certainly be termed by us "an adze." His fig. No. 22, according to the illustration and description (page 263), must almost certainly have been hafted as an adze, though the fact of its having one flat face seemed to have puzzled local antiquarians.
Mr. Abbott mentions that Indian stone hoes were hafted and used as is an adze (page 351), in which case it is not improbable that they so hafted some of their celts for the purpose of working timber, more especially for such work as hollowing out a log to form a dugout canoe.
Some of the rudest ungrooved American forms were probably hafted in some manner. It is not easy to say of what use the so-called hand-axes would be—that is, implements that are believed to have been grasped by the hand, no form of handle being attached. If so used, then it is probable that it was not as axes, but for some other purpose, such as pounding roots or fibres.
In a short paper on the natives of Columbia, South America (see Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. xxvii, p. 609), occurs the following curious statement: "Some Indians … forced their stone axes into the branches of certain tough trees, and, when the fibre and bark had securely grown around them, they, by cutting off the branch, secured a natural handle to their axe."
Among the Eskimo, a system of hafting was employed wherein the end of the handle was butted against the axe-head, to which it was lashed, both axe and end of haft having holes drilled through them for this purpose.
The Australian blacks hafted their axes in the same way as did the Indians of the eastern United States. They twisted vines or a piece of split wood round a groove formed round the upper part of the axe, and secured it by lashing. These Australian stone axes, judging from various illustrations, appear to be much less symmetrical and well finished than New Zealand stone adzes. To illustrate his paper on "Some Stone Implements used by the Aborigines of New South Wales," in vol. xxviii of the "Journal of the Royal Society of New page 114South Wales," 1894, Professor Liversidge gives two illustrations of these roughly hafted axes, which would shock the Maori, so rough are the handles and attachment. The New Zealand adzes therein depicted compare well with the rough Australian hatchets. His fig. 30, pi. 24, shows a somewhat uncommon form of Maori stone adze, with the upper part thereof deeply cut into and bevelled off so as to form a tang whereon the lashing would grip well, as the deep cut has left a high shoulder on the face of the tool. This specimen is bevelled on both faces, in order to form the cutting-edge, though more on the back than on the face. Though somewhat wedge-shaped, this tool was certainly helved as an adze.
All handles made by the Maori for his adzes were of the same general form, though differing much in size and finish, also, to some extent, in the angle at which the tool was set with the helve. The illustrations show the peculiar form of these handles. Among the Tuhoe Tribe adze-handles were usually made of either mated (Podo-carpus spicatus), tawa (Beilschmiedia taw), or tawhero (Weinmannia) wood. The former seems to have been preferred for the carved highly ornate handles of the small adzes known as toki pou tangata, which were, to a large extent, ceremonial implements. The tawhero was generally used for the larger, heavier, and unadorned handles of the adzes used as tools for rough work, as dubbing down baulks of timber. In selecting a piece of timber to form one of these adze-handles it was usual to look for a suitable secondary branch to fashion the handle from. This branch was not cut off the larger limb from which it sprang, but a section of the latter was cut off, with the small secondary branch still adhering to it. This section of the larger limb was worked down into a foot for the handle, the front part being flattened so that the stone adze might be lashed thereon. The usual way was to leave the surface on which the adze was placed a plane surface, without any groove in which the tool might be put, or any shoulder against which the reke or poll might be butted. In some cases, however, according to a native authority, a shoulder was formed on the handle to butt the poll of the adze against. This prevented the lashing from being chafed and severed by the adze when in use, and the adze from being driven in under the strained cord. Such handles are occasionally seen in collections, and in use among the natives, with steel blades attached thereto. On that side of the foot-piece nearest the handle a groove, sometimes narrow and sometimes wide, was in some cases formed, which much helped the grip of the lashing. In many cases when carving the ornamental handles for small ceremonial adzes they were pierced with a small hole, through which the lashing-cord was passed a few times.page 115
The late Mr. T. H. Smith has recorded a curious item—viz., that handles for adzes were often formed of a human arm or leg bone. These must have been very small adzes. They would be small tools for use with one hand. This was also a Tahitian custom.
The following remarks are taken from "The New-Zealanders" ("Library of Entertaining Knowledge," 1830, page 126): "Amongst the tools, one resembling our adze is in the most common use; and it is remarkable that the handles of these implements are often composed of human bones. In the museum of the Church Missionary Society there are adzes, the handle of one of which is formed of the bone of a human arm and another of that of a leg." The same work contains a statement (page 131) anent the cutting-tools of the Maori: "The only instruments he has to cut are rudely fashioned of stone or bone."
The best account we have of these items is one lately furnished by Te Whatahoro, of Wai-rarapa, who explained that the handles used for stone adzes in former times were much larger and heavier than those used for iron adzes in late times. These so-called iron adzes were mostly crude tools fashioned by blacksmiths, and ship artisans, flat and without socket or any boss, being secured to handles by lashing. Plane-blades, also used for adzes, were lashed on in a similar manner.
In his district, says our informant, four distinct forms of handle were used for stone adzes: (1.) The tahi-maro (kakau tahi maro)—This handle was perfectly straight. It was so formed in order to gain all possible strength, as this handle was used for adzes employed in doing the heaviest dubbing-work. The straight handle was less liable to break than curved ones. (2.) Tukerangi (kakau tukerangi)—This handle was straight for some distance from the adze and then curved, so that in using it one hand grasped the straight part and the other the curved part. This form of handle was used for adzes employed for general purposes, but not for the heaviest work. (3.) Kaukaurangi (kakau kaukaurangi)—This handle was formed with a curious double or reverse curve, and had no straight parts. This handle was used when the task consisted of adzing a hollow or curved timber, as the hold of a canoe, being specially made for such work. (4.) Ruku (kakau ruku)—This handle was straight, but had a peculiar sharp curve at the end, which resembled the curved hand-grip of a walking-stick or umbrella. This form of handle was used only for hafting stone adzes in chipping off charred wood, as in tree-felling and hollowing out canoes.
An adze was lashed to the tahi-maro form of handle by a method known as pokaitara, which consists of a series of half-hitches. page 116Another form of lashing is known as pa kahawai; this consisted of hitches made with a double cord, in a peculiar manner difficult to describe. A method of lashing known as heketua was employed for securing an adze to the kaukaurangi form of handle. This was a double form of lashing. One end of the cord was laid along on that part of the adze to be covered by the lashing. A turn was then hitched round the adze and the foot of the handle, and a series of turns and hitches made close together as far as the lashing was required, then the loose projecting end of the cord protruding from under the lashing was doubled back along the butt end, and another series of hitched turns made back to the starting-point.
The maire-hua (or, in full, maire-huakai) form of lashing was made by manipulating four cords, very much as we make a four-plait cord or whip. This method was used by the Ngati-Porou Tribe for lashing adzes to the ruku form of handle. In later times it was introduced into the southern part of the Island.
The term hohoupu implies the position in which an adze is when lashed on to the tuke or face of the foot of the handle—that is, with the cutting-edge at right angles to the handle; in fact, hafted as a true adze.
In many cases several thicknesses of the soft inner bark of the houhi (Hoheria populnea) were cut to the requisite length and placed on the tuke or foot of the handle, to serve as a pad between it and the stone adze.
No stone adzes were ever pierced for lashing to pass through, and no gummy substance was ever used in hafting such items. Channels or depressions were sometimes made on the foot of the handle of a pou tangata adze, wherein to place the implement prior to lashing, such grooves being termed tamarua or kauhika. Practically all pou tangata adzes were of nephrite among east-coast tribes and, apparently, in other districts also. Occasionally an adze had a conical or pointed poll (poike), in which case such poll was used wherewith to tamp the tahune (caulking material) into the holes, through which cords were passed in lashing the top sides of a canoe on to its hull. Such an adze was termed a tuki on that account (Tepoike o te toki a mea he tuki—The poll of So-and-so's adze is a tamper.)
The notches or serrations seen on the edges of some pou tangata adzes were for ornament only. They were made with a piece of flint, hard grit being used in the process. The hand-grip portion of the handles of such implements were never embellished with carving.
A flat piece of houhi wood about 1 in. in thickness, termed apaepae arai maramara, arai matamata, pare arai maramara, or kaupare, or page 117paetuki (tuki, an abbreviated form) was placed on the outside of the lashing of a working-adze to protect it. The lashing to keep this in position was on the upper part only, so that it would not come in contact with the surface of the timber being worked. The night before an adze was to be used it was placed in water, which caused the tuki and the cord to swell and tighten the tool in the lashing. The cord to lash the paepae or tuki is termed the kaha paepae.
The origin of kakau toki, or adze-handle, lies far back in the night of time, according to Maori myth. It was in this wise: Kaupeka was one of the numerous offspring of Rangi and Papa, the Sky Parent and the Earth Mother. When the rebellious offspring of Rangi and Papa decided to separate their parents they proceeded to procure poles with which to prop up the sky. Hence Tane said to Uruao and Paia, "Do you go and procure poles to support our father—one for the head, one for each of the arms, and one for the legs." Paia asked, "Where shall we find such poles?" Tane replied, "At Tihi o Manono, at Pari-nui-o-te-ra, at Maunga-nui-o-tawa. Kohao-nui and Kohao-roa will provide them." Even so Paia and Uruao went to Rangi-naonao-ariki, to Maunga-nui-o-tawa, where Kohao-nui and Kohao-roa dwelt. They explained their errand, whereupon Kohao-nui and Kohao-roa inquired, "Where truly is an axe to cut them with?" Now returned Paia and Uruao to Tane on this quest, and Tane said, "Send Tama-kaka to our elder, to Uru-te-ngangana, to obtain his pae urunga wherewith to cut the props." And Tama-kaka went and made the request, whereupon Ure-te-ngangana gave him the Awhio-rangi and the Whironui. Truly these were the toki with which the props were cut. Tama-kaka returned with these to Paia and Uruao, who took them to Kohao-nui and Kohao-roa. Now Kohao-nui inquired of Paia, "Where is a kakau (handle), a pare arai maramara (guard), a hohou (lashing)?" Back to Tane went Paia and Uruao to repeat this query, and Tane said, "Go and slay our elder brother Kaupeka, take his legs to use for kakau (adze-handles), his intestines as lashing material, his brow and the top of his head as a,pare; also take his heart as a sacred offering to our father." But no one dared to slay Kaupeka, for they feared the anger of Whiro-te-tupua. Then arose Tu-matauenga, and he it was who slew Kaupeka, and obtained the items wherewith to prepare the sacred tools for use. Now, the weapon with which Kaupeka was slain was the Awhio-rangi. The legs of Kaupeka were used as handles for the Awhio-rangi and Whironui. The right leg was taken for the Awhio-rangi, and was named Kaawe-kai-rangi. The brow or forehead of Kaupeka was used as a pare arai maramara, and was named Motu-whariki. The intestines of Kaupeka were used as a lashing for the Awhio-rangi, page 118and was known as the aka-piwai. The left leg of Kaupeka was taken as a handle for Whironui, and was named Rakauri. The top part of the head of Kaupeka was employed as an arai matarnata, and termed Raupapa-nui. The lashing-cord of Whironui was made from a portion of the intestines of Kaupeka, and known as the aka-pitau. The heart of Kaupeka was taken as a sacred offering to their parent Rangi-nui. Such was the origin of adze-handles as preserved in the curious myths of the Takitimu immigrants to New Zealand. These notes have been culled from a volume of ancient Maori lore dictated by Moihi te Matorohanga, of the Kahungunu Tribe, one of the last learned men of the whare wananga of the Takitimu people. It will be seen that the handles of the stone adze is likened to the human leg, which it somewhat resembles in form.
It seems curious that nearly all of these adzes should not only not have been rectangular near the poll, but also so made that they decrease in size toward the poll or head. It is possible that the object of the latter was that when the tool was used each blow delivered served to drive the adze farther into the encircling lashing, and so tighten it. On account of its shape it would, in regard to its lashing, act as a wedge when used. Strong cords of plaited flax (Phormium) fibre were used for so lashing on the adze-heads, as also the pliable stems of certain kinds of climbing-plants (aka).
One of the tribal aphorisms of the Ngati-Awa Tribe is, Te toki e kore e tangatanga i te ra (The adze that is not loosened by the sun). In explanation of this saying, Mr. C. O. Davis says, "The axe used by the natives in former times, and which this proverb refers to, was a flat piece of greenstone, fastened by a string to a handle resembling the fork of a tree. It was not usual to leave this implement in the sun, lest the cords which bound it should be loosened, but it was invariably put into a basket with other valuables, and kept in the hut. This tribe, it would appear, bound their panehe, or axe, so strongly that the sun had no effect upon it, hence the allusion." Mr. Davis had not grasped the application of the above saying, which was purely a figurative and metaphorical one, and was applied to the people of the tribe. The tribe itself was the toki.
The angle at which the adze is lashed on, in regard to the line of the handle, is never a right angle, or it would be awkward to use as an adze. The angle varies a little, but is usually about 50°.
The adze-handles (kakau toki) having been hewn or chipped into form, and probably also scraped with sharp-edged stones, &c., were sometimes rendered smooth by being rubbed on the rough outside part of the trunk of a kaponga, or tree-fern (Cyathea dealbata).page 119
When travelling the Maori usually carried the small adzes stuck inside his belt or waist-band, but the large ones were carried by means of thrusting the handle down under his cape, the adze-head resting on the collar or upper part of the garment, behind the man's head.
In the case of the carved adze-handles (kakau toki) (see Plates XXXV and XXXVI) such ornamentation was limited, necessarily, to two parts—viz., the extreme ends of the handle. Some carving was done at the small end, just behind the hand-grip, but the principal carving was at the other end, where the foot and the adjacent part of the handle were highly carved (see Fig. L, Plate XXXV). A much favoured mode was to carve that end of the handle with the rauru pattern, while a grotesque human figure was carved on the foot of the handle, which carving never, of course, extended to the surface on which the adze was secured. A peculiar form is one in which the upper part of the foot is carved into a human figure, which is, as it were, sitting upon the poll of the adze, a shoulder having been left, against which the poll of the adze butts when placed in position. The other end of the handle is carved into a grotesque form of a human head, and the extreme end of the handle so carved is left of greater diameter than the rest of the handle when fashioned, so that an end knob results, which is, as users of the modern steel axe well know, of great advantage to the manipulator of the implement; it improves his grip of the handle. These carved handles were also often adorned by means of fastening tufts of white dogs' hair.
In regard to the cord that was secured to the handles of these pou tangata adzes, and by means of which they were retained, there seems to have been three styles of such wrist-cords. The kind generally seen on such implements, and on the short stone weapons (patu), are short loops, through which the hand is thrust. Two or three turns of wrist or implement causes the loop to contract, just as we use a looped or doubled cord on a riding-whip. Another form seems to have been a much longer doubled cord; and yet another form is spoken of by one of the early writers on New Zealand, who states that he saw a thumb-cord used with these short implements. A small loop was made on the end of the cord, through which the wearer thrust his thumb when about to use the implement as a weapon. This was for the purpose of recovering it, but if his adversary managed to seize the weapon he did not thereby put the owner at a serious disadvantage, because the latter could readily disengage his thumb. Were the cord round his wrist he could not so readily free his hand therefrom in such an emergency. The thumb-cord described above was termed, says Te Whatahoro, a kepa (see Plate XXXVI).page 120
In Cook's account of his second voyage is an excellent illustration of a toki pou tangata, mounted on its carved handle (see Plate XXXVI). This gives both side and back views of one of these semi-ceremonial implements. The mode of lashing on the implement to its haft is quite clear, the lashing passing round the adze and the kauae, or lower part of the foot of the handle. It also appears as though a turn of the cord had been taken between the stone tool and the lower part of the foot, as though to tighten the former, though this appearance may be due to a peculiarity in the drawing. It will be noted that in this illustration the cord is passed through a hole formed in the handle, and also that it has two loops—one at the handle, another at the extreme end of the cord. The latter is a very small loop, and may be the thumb-loop described above. It bears some resemblance to a running-loop. The larger loop at the handle may have been used as a wrist-loop when the implement was used merely as a baton.
Sir Joseph Banks speaks of these wrist-cords in his Journal, when mentioning the patu, or short weapons, "Fastening them by a long strap to their wrists, lest they should be wrenched from them." It would appear that the use of the long cord was an old usage, but that it had been given up. The shorter doubled wrist-cord only seems to be now seen.
Parkinson speaks of "a kind of stone truncheon (patu), through the handle of it was a string, which they twisted round the hand that held it when they attempted to strike any person." In his illustration of a New Zealand warrior (pi. 15) the weapon (patu) has apparently a double-looped cord attached to it, or two different looped cords-one short, the other much longer.
In another form of handle the poll of the adze is butted against the back of the head of a human figure. In the forms of adze-helves it seldom occurs that there is any shoulder against which to butt the adze-poll, to judge from examples seen; but such often occurs, and is perhaps the rule, in handles pertaining to the pou tangata class of adze. We must, however, bear in mind that the handles for working-tools we see have been made for iron, not stone blades. We know of no pou tangata implements made of metal.
A toki pou tangata depicted in the "Voyage of the Coquille" has a curiously curved handle, the curve being downwards, and the upper part of the head is profusely ornamented with dog-hair. This type of adze, usually made of greenstone (nephrite), might be termed ceremonial weapons or implements, inasmuch as they were carried more as insignia of rank or as batons than as weapons or tools. When page 121addressing an assembly of people a man would have in his right hand such an implement, or a weapon—such as a mere, or a taiaha, or a patu, &c. These prized small adzes with carved handles were sometimes certainly used as weapons, usually as a means of despatching a fallen foe who had been disarmed or impaled on a spear-point.
The tokipou tangata handle shown in Brigham's work on "Hawaisian Stone Forms" (fig. 90) is of orthodox form and finish, but the adze attached is an ordinary hewing-adze, not a pou tangata implement, and is out of place on such a handle. Presumably it was so placed merely for illustration, as there is no sign of any lashing.
In fig. 88 of the same work are shown two Maori stone adzes. The lower one appears to have been lashed on the wrong way, to judge from the blade-angle; and the rough-looking bunch of feathers attached in that manner, and to a working-tool, is not a Maori usage. But then the modern Maori does curious things when supplying the wants of collectors, very few of whom can tell whether or not an implement so obtained is in accordance with pre-European usages.
Regarding the rough handles to which common hewing or working adzes are attached: We have seen that such are made, as a rule, out of secondary branches—but not always, not only on account of the form desired, but also because the timber of branches is tougher than that of trunk timber. But few of these rough unadorned handles (kakau) have any knob (koreke) on the end of the handle, by the hand-hold. When such a knob does occur it is but small. It will be noted that here again we have kept to the methods of primitive man, inasmuch as while our axe-handles, both for poll and double-bitted axes, have the knob or swelled hand-hold at the extremity, yet our adze-helves are without such knob, being left free: the true meaning of which is that in using an axe the tool is flung from the operator, and would have to be clutched somewhat tightly by one hand in order to retain hold of it were it not for the end knob; while in using an adze the blow is directed toward the operator. The knob on an axe-helve saves the axeman many a blister, as it enables him to hold the helve loosely.
Plate XXXIX shows a collection of adze-handles such as were, and are still, used for hafting iron blades—such as plane cutters and others made from flat pieces of iron or steel. The lashing still remains in position on some of them, and one has the iron blade still attached to it.
In many of these rough working-tool handles we note that no shaping has been done, save in flattening the surface of the cross-piece for the reception of the adze, and the cutting of the groove for page 122the lashing. Some have been rendered smooth by scraping, apparently. Others have merely had projections removed and the bark taken off. In many cases the marker seems to have aimed at securing a branch just suitable in size for a handle, so that no chipping or hewing was necessary in order to reduce it to the desired size. Others have been worked down to the requisite size, an easy task since the introduction of steel tools. As to the actual "set" of the handle in regard to the adze-head, the Maori artisan does not appear to concern himself (see Plate XXXIX). Not only does the angle formed by helve and tool differ to some extent, but the form of the handle itself differs widely among specimens in the Museum. Some are straight, some curve downwards, some upwards, some have even a lateral or sideways crook that would distract any European workman; one has no less than four distinct and separate bends in the handle—one upward, one downward, and one on either side. To use this implement would drive a ship's carpenter demented; but the Maori does good work with such forms.
The method employed in lashing adzes on to these primitive handles is simple in the extreme. It often consists of little more than a single strong containing-cord tied tightly round the adze and lower part of the "foot" of the handle. This binding often consists of many turns of small cord, one end of which is used to seize the lashing on the outer face of the adze.
A form of lashing such as the bridle described above is termed kaui by the Tuhoe Tribe. (See Plate XLV). If a lashing consists of many turns of a cord, such turns being only one ply deep, and not seized, the expression hohou is applied to the process.
In some cases all the turns of this cord are carefully laid in a slot cut in the lower part of the foot of the handle, and so cannot slip up the foot when subjected to the shock caused by a blow delivered with the tool. This explanation probably shows why it is that these adzes were so fashioned as to diminish in size from the shoulder of the bevel, or from an adjacent part, to the poll or head. This wedge-shape prevented their being driven through the loop formed by the lashing; indeed, each blow delivered with the tool served to tighten the tool in the lashing and render it more stable in its position. It acted as a tightening-wedge. At the same time, by wrenching the lower end of the adze it was easily drawn out from beneath the lashing, an obvious advantage for sharpening and other purposes.
The following description was obtained by watching Te Tuhi, a member of the Tuhoe Tribe, haft a stone adze, such a one as was used for lighter hewing (see Plate XLV): The lower end of the foot of the handle, on which the adze is lashed, is termed the kauae. The groove page 123to contain the lashing seen on the lower part in some handles is known as a tokari. The lashing used to tie on the adze is termed taka. Small, flat, thin wooden wedges, (matia) were sometimes used to tighten the lashing and grip the adze-head more firmly. They were driven in between the face of the adze and the lashing. In many cases, says Tuhi, only a bridle or single compact lashing was used, the process being as follows: A running-loop was made on one end of the plaited cord. This was slipped over the end of the handle, and run down to a point close to the foot of the handle, where it was pulled taut. The stone adze was then placed in position, and the lashing passed round it and the foot of the handle, within the slot, tightly pulled, then round the adze again and back, and round the shaft of the handle again, but from the opposite side, so as to cross the strands in the angle formed by the junction of the handle and its foot. After several such turns the loose part of the cord was used to seize the several strands of the same that had been passed round the stone adze, so as to bind them closely together, as a rope-end is seized. This seizing was done closely and tightly, and embraced all that part of the containing-strands that came into contact with the adze. On reaching the foot of the handle again the loose end was passed over the poll of the adze, down and under the lashing on the further side, and pulled taut. This caused it to become jammed tightly into the small space between the poll of the adze and the foot of the handle. The loose end of the cord was then carried back to the back of the foot of the handle, and secured there by being inter-twined with the various strands. It was also passed round the halfdozen turns of the cord between the shaft and foot of the handle, and pulled taut, thus tightening the turns. In some cases, if sufficiently long, a few more turns would be taken round the adze and foot, above the bridle, but these were not seized. It will be observed that the single thickness of the cord passed between the poll and the shoe really served as a tightening-wedge. In this way: when the adze came to be used, each of the first few blows therewith caused it to be driven a little further in under the lashing, and also forced it over the single cord between the poll and the foot. This had the effect of tightening the adze in its place to a considerable extent, and prevented it from moving in its socket, and thus impairing the effect of the blow.
Te Whatahoro states that the part of the lashing that was passed over the poll of the adze was known as the kopare, and that it was often a thick cord, or several thicknesses of such, that passed over the poll of the adze, and was pulled taut so that the poll was butted against this kopare, which must have received much of the shock of page 124each blow delivered with the tool. Thus it almost acted the part of a shoulder on the foot of the handle.
A fine stone adze, described by Archdeacon Williams as having been found at Te Mahia, much resembles Fig. 17, Plate IV, in form, but the longitudinal convexity of the back is more pronounced. This tool is 12½ in. long, 3½ in. wide, and has a bevel on the back 3 in. long. Its weight is 4 lb. The peculiarity of this implement consists in its having three depressions, one on each side and one on the face, situated near the butt end, which may possibly have been formed to accommodate the reception of wedges to tighten the lashing.
In the case of an adze quite straight and flat longitudinally, the cord passed over the poll, as in Plate XLV, would be of no service, inasmuch as the flat butt end of the adze could not ride or pass over it when driven in by the force of blows, and would simply push it along the face of the foot. It is quite possible that we see here one of the causes of an extremely common feature in Maori stone adzes—viz., the rectilineal diminution in size, or curvature, or longitudinal convexity of the butt end. This curvature means that the poll of the adze is not, when in position, in contact with the face of the foot, but that a space like a narrow V exists between the two, into which space the cord slips, and is jammed tightly when pulled taut, to be still more tightly jammed when the workman's blows cause the adze-butt to "ride" it.
Te Tuhi states that when ceasing work a workman would pull his adze out of its lashing and conceal it, often by burying it, or thrusting it into a hollow tree, or under a log, &c. The handle, not being a very much prized item, was simply hung up in some place, probably in a tree. Handles for these hewing-adzes were often made from the branches of the mated and taw a trees.
Mr. Colenso tells us that "the titoki furnished handles for light axes; and sometimes the kowhai was used, particularly for the heavier ones."
In some cases, as we have seen, the bridle-lashing is simply formed round the adze and shoe, and the cord is not secured to the long shaft of the handle, nor does it pass round it. This form of lashing is used in connection with a deep groove or slot (tokari) in the back of the foot of the handle.
The style of lashing termed hohoupu was described by Te Whata-horo as follows: The middle of a long plaited cord is passed round adze and handle, the two ends of the cord passing round in opposite directions. On meeting at the further side one end is passed round page 125the other, each taking a half-turn round the other, but no true knot is formed. The two ends of the cord are thus reversed as to direction, and are so passed round the stone and handle again, to be hitched in a similar manner on the further side, the process being continued, forming two lines of hitches, one on either side, until the lashing is completed. The hitching process is termed takawiri.
Three different methods of lashing on adzes to their helves were described to us by Te Whatahoro: Kauaerua—A crossed lashing, the cord being a plaited one of three strands. Aparua—Also a crossed lashing, but the finishing off (that is, the final disposal of the cord end) was done in a different manner; a four-strand plaited cord was used in this method. Uhurangi—Often termed simply uhu; a straight or parallel lashing, not crossed.
The rough or unornamented wooden handles are, of course, of different sizes, according to the size of the adze attached thereto. Some are 30 in. or a little more in length, with a face of 6 in. on the 'Toot" where the adze is lashed on. A very small one before us has a foot of 3 in. only, and the handle is but little over ½ in. in thickness in the middle. This must have been furnished with a very small blade. Of eight specimens before us, only one has a shoulder on the face for the adze-poll to be butted against, and in this case the containing slot or groove for the lashing is wanting, it not being necessary. These handles, however, were probably all made for thin iron blades, not for stone blades.
It is sometimes noted that instead of a narrow groove for a single lashing, a wide channel or hollowed space has been formed of 2 in., or even more, in width, which would admit of a much wider lashing, and tend to keep the adze more firmly secured. It is doubtful if any lashing was ever passed round the upper part of the foot of the handle; in fact, such a method would be impossible in many cases, inasmuch as the upper part of the foot is often flush with the handle.
It has been noted that stone celts are sometimes used in Australia and elsewhere without a handle. They may have been, and may still be, used in such a manner for some purposes, but certainly not for such work as dressing timber.
The illustrations of old Maori implements given in some of the works of early voyagers, &c., are not always good ones. In the first place, some items are assigned to New Zealand that are not Maori forms at all, but Fijian, Polynesian, or Melanesian. Collections have evidently got mixed up. Some Maori forms have been distorted, apparently, by bad drawing. In regard to some of the illustrations page 126of Maori adzes and adze-handles seen in Polack's work on New Zealand, we can only charitably suppose that the sketcher thereof was seriously unwell when engaged at his task. In the first volume of Polack, page 71, is the representation of a Maori adze with a carved handle. The adze is set at right angles to the handle, and is not helved in the manner Maori; and, unless the handle be an abnormally long one, the carving is shown as extending too far up it, which would interfere with the hand-grip. Of the three adzes given in an illustration on page 31, vol. ii, of the same work, two of them are certainly metal tools, and the third is doubtful, and has not a Maori handle.
Some American (U.S.) stone axes were inserted in a hole in the handle. A stone axe with stone handle, both formed from the one piece of stone, blade and handle in one piece, is in the United States National Museum. Perhaps the most singular method of hafting a stone axe is that depicted (engraved) on one of the supports of a stone dolmen in France. The handle is in the form of the letter J, with an elongated shank. The axe has a somewhat pointed poll (like some stone hatchets found in Brittany), which passes through a hole in the lower part of the shank, and butts against the curled-over portion of the handle. Such handles were probably naturally-formed sticks, branches of trees, or the butts of small trees. This singular form is illustrated in Mr. Wilson's "Prehistoric Art" (see "Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution," 1896).
In "Man," vol. iv, page 81, are given illustrations showing the methods of hafting copper axes in Peru in former times. Four true axes are thus shown. Two of these implements have, in place of a wide poll, long narrow tangs, which pass through a hole in the handle and project therefrom at the back, the haft being strengthened by a lashing. The other two are hafted in a very different manner. These have T-shaped butts, which fit against the wooden handles, and are lashed in that position. The cross-piece on the poll is fitted into a groove in the handle in one case, and probably in both. In one case a crossed lashing-cord secures the cross-piece of the poll to the handle. In the other case the axe is secured to the handle "by a broad piece of stout rawhide, through which the blade passes; the hide is doubled back, and projects as a square appendage at the back of the handle, being kept tight by a treble stitching of rawhide" (as described by Professor Giglioli), a very curious mode of helving an axe. A copper chisel shown in the same plate has "a hollow butt end, into which is fitted a cylindrical handle of tough wood."
Angas, in his "New-Zealanders" (1847), depicts a tokipou tangata with an unusually short thick handle, the whole of which is elaborately carved, except the hand-grip. The blade shows a shoulder on page 127both face and back. This was probably an error of the artists. He describes it as "A richly carved adze, with a greenstone head, orna-mented with dog's hair and kaka feathers; from the Middle Island." The same plate (No. 58) shows a tomahawk with a bone handle, and a strip of dog-skin attached thereto as a wrist-cord, instead of the usual cord of flax (Phormium) fibre, while in fig. 9 is seen a man holding a pou tangata adze of the usual long thin type.
Mr. H. M. Stowell has handed to us a curious item bearing upon a new form of axe to be disclosed to the Maori folk of these isles. It is stated that some eight generations ago a member of the Nga-Puhi Tribe, Te Matapo by name, made the following remark anent the arrival in the future of a fair-skinned people on these shores: "Taihoa ka tae mai tetahi iwi, he iwi kiritea: ko nga toki, he toki kaha kore: Ko nga waka, he waka puni, he mea pani ki te ware" (A fair-skinned folk will arrive in the future, whose axes will not be lashed to the handles, and whose vessels (canoes) will be covered in, and painted with ware—gum, any exudation from trees, &c). This curious matakite, or prophecy, was obtained from Heremia Tawake. If this and one or two other such old-time prophecies are genuine, it seems to point to the fact that the ancestors of the Maori had come into contact with such fair-skinned folk in their migrations or explorations, and that a knowledge of such had been handed down orally throughout centuries.
The compiler of a catalogue of the Honolulu Museum (1892) speaks of a reversible stone adze "much used for the interior work of a canoe" as being "so mounted as to turn to one side or the other thus becoming as needed, a right or left hand adze."
Brigham depicts an adze from the Bismarck Archipelago, in which the adze is secured to a round piece of wood of pointed form, which is thrust through a hole in the handle. Thus the blade could be turned so as to take the surface being hewn at any desired angle, and, presumably, would be easily converted into an axe.
We have noted the fact that some of the large stone tools with axe-like blades were hafted as chisels, and used in such work as tree-felling. Mr. S. Percy Smith supplies the following note: "The poki was a big stone axe, sometimes 18 in. long, lashed on in line with the handle, not at right angles, as an adze is. I think that poki is a Ngai-Tahu word, but I am not sure. The poki was used as a huge chisel, but without the use of a hammer. The old-fashioned European (steel) axes were termed poke."
Mr. T. H. Smith has stated (Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. xxvii, p. 451) that the name of the above tool was toki titaha. It is extremely unlikely that this term was applied to an implement so hafted.page 128
These large stone celts were so hafted to be used as a modern steel bar with a flattened end for a blade is often used, such as the "peeling-bars" employed to cut and wrench off the thick bark of Sequoia gigantea. The poki were lashed on to handles of considerable length, and used in tree-felling. Several men would work the tool, each grasping the shaft with both hands, and so dashing the blade against the timber. It seems to have been so used in order to cut grooves in the tree-trunk, and also, in some cases, to split out the timber between the two grooves. The process must have been an extremely slow one. In hafting these tools it is said that a slot was formed at the end of the handle, and a shoulder left, so that the stone tool was laid in the slot or scarf, or on the flat surface, and butted against the shoulder, being secured to the handle by means of lashing with a strong, pliant, forest climbing-plant termed aka. It is probable that some of the large double-bevelled toki seen in collections were so used.
Mr. W. Best, of Otaki, supplies the following note regarding the use and method of hafting double-bevelled or equal-bevelled stone toki: "I remember having a talk many years ago with a Maori, I think, at Tauranga, on the subject of stone axes. With regard to the double-bevelled tools, I understood him to say that they were used on a straight handle, made out of a stick with a fork on it, and lashed on as shown in sketch; also, that they were used in the same way that we use a crowbar. For instance, they would burn out a couple of holes in hollowing out a canoe, and then split out the block of wood between the two holes with one of these implements. I have also heard that they were used for punching out the scarf in tree-felling." The sketch referred to, together with some further explanatory notes, shows that a straight pole or stick was selected that had a branch near one end. This branch was cut off at a point near where it grew from the pole. The stone tool was then placed on the end of the pole, the butt end or poll of the stone tool being butted up against the projecting base of the severed limb. The tool was then lashed on tightly to the shaft, and the shock of a blow when this huge chisel was used came not on the lashing, but on the crotch or projecting base of the limb against which the tool was butted.
A Taumarunui native informs us that the toki hafted in an axial manner on its shaft was termed a wero-mata among his people, and that it was used in tree-felling for the purpose of cutting out the slivers or splinters left unsevered by the stone adze, which was the principal tool used in tree-felling, and which was used sideways. He denies the existence of a stone toki titaha, or true axe, in pre-European times.page 129
In Plate XLII is shown a specimen of the chisel-hafted tool, or poki. This item is in the Buller Collection, now in the Dominion Museum. The tool is hafted for use by one man only, apparently, as shown by the length of the shaft. The total length of this implement is 3 ft. 5 in.; of shaft, only 3 ft.; hence 5 in. of the stone tool projects beyond the end of the handle. The handle is deeply scarfed for the reception of the stone tool, which is butted against a shoulder at the inner end of the shaft. The securing-cord is one plaited of half-dressed Phormium, and it is very neatly bound on, gripping and securing the tool to the haft in an exceedingly firm manner. The length of the stone tool is about 11 in., for inasmuch as the lashing is continued backward over the shoulder of the scarf, and as it effectually conceals the butt-half of the toki and point of contact with the shoulder, the precise length of the tool cannot be given. This tool is one of the very thick forms with a triangular cross-section. The width of the cutting-edge is l¼in.; across the shoulder, 2½ in.; thickness at shoulder, 2⅝ in. The face is represented by a narrow ridge, and the butt end thereof has been worked down to accommodate the lashing. The tool is not a well-finished one, having been chipped into form, then bruised, but only the lower part of the blade has been ground smooth. Weight, including handle, 5½ lb. The handle, or shaft, is round, thick at the lower end where the tool is lashed on, but under 1½ in. in thickness toward the upper end. This tool was probably used for punching off the charred surface of timber, as when fire was used in tree-felling.
The small stone chisels, termed whao and purupuru, seem to have been used attached to a wooden handle. It appears that wooden and bone mallets were used with some of these small chisels, though the early voyagers and settlers do not seem to have left us any record of how such tools were used. Many of these mallets were formed from the bones of whales. A specimen of a New Zealand chisel, hafted as a tool to be used with a mallet, is in the British Museum. Evans, in his "Ancient Stone Implements of Great Britain," 2nd edition, page 178, gives an illustration of it, and says, "Among the Maoris of New Zealand small hand-chisels of jade are used for carving wood, and for other purposes. They are sometimes attached to their handles by a curiously intertwined cord, and sometimes by a more simple binding. For the sketch of that shown in fig. 113 I am indebted to the late Mr. Gray. The original is in the British Museum. It will be observed that the end of the handle, which has been battered in use, is tied round with a strip of bark to prevent its splitting. The blade seems to rest against a shoulder in the handle, to which it is firmly bound by a cord of vegetable fibre." If the above is a genuine Maori page 130implement, the illustration shows plainly how the natives of New Zealand hafted their chisels, and also clearly proves that a mallet was used with them. But so many items from other islands have been styled and depicted as New Zealand forms by European writers, &c., that it behoves us to be careful in accepting such dicta. However, in this case the illustration might well be a New Zealand form. Te Whatahoro, however, states that among his people all stone chisels were hafted, and all were used as ripi or scribes; also, that the old experts of the days of his youth told him that in former times a mallet was never used with a stone chisel, such usage being a European innovation. This is doubtful.
Later Te Whatahoro stated that chisels used with a mallet (ta) were termed whao, but those used without a mallet, as we use a scribe or graver, were called ripi. The latter were used in making lines and grooves; the former is described as being the true or real chisel, and carried a square cutting-edge. The ripi was a long chisel, about 1 in. wide on cutting-edge. The pa-kati was a square-edged chisel, thin and narrow, about ½ in. wide, and was used for such work as making notches, and similar fine work. Whao is the general name for all stone chisels; but different kinds as to form, size, &c., were used for different kinds of work, and each kind had its distinctive name. If procurable, the variety of nephrite termed kahotea was used for making the ripi and pa-kati chisels.
A person might ask, "Kei te pehea te whakairo a mea?" (How is such a person's carving progressing?) and haply the reply would be, "Kei te whakangao" (It is in its initial stage), or "Kei te ripi" (The long grooves and lines are being made), or "Kei te pakati" (The work of serrating is being done).
The ta or mallets used in connection with chisels were made with head and handle in one piece from a hard, curly, grained knot of maire or ake-rautangi wood, the handle-part being worked down so as to give a good hand-grip. They were club-like in form.
There were two methods of lashing chisels on to handles, one being known as the ritorangi mode, and the other as pa-kawau. These styles of lashing were also used in securing the barbed points to the bird-spears so much used formerly.
In Banks's Journal we note the following: "Their (the Tahitians) tools are made of the bones of men … These they grind very sharp, and fix to a handle of wood, making the instrument serve the purpose of a gouge by striking it with a mallet made of hard wood." It seems probable that, as the Tahitians used mallets with at least some of their chisels, the Maori of New Zealand probably did the same, page 131inasmuch as the latter came from the Society Isles, as is plainly seen in their traditions.
A perforated greenstone (nephrite) chisel is seen in No. 648, in the Dominion Museum; and some small-perforated greenstone adzes have been found. These small perforations were probably made for the purpose of carrying such items suspended from the neck or ears, any greenstone article being extremely valuable and much prized by the Maori. Nephrite chisels were seen carried in this manner by early voyagers. Even rough unworked slabs of a desirable kind of nephrite were highly valued, and small rough pieces were worn as pendants.
But there are two other perforated nephrite items in the Museum, each of which is about 10 in. in length. They are of adze-form, and have evidently been meant for helving in the usual manner. A small hole has in each case been bored in the upper part, near the end, through which a small cord for suspension may have been passed, but such holes could scarcely have served any other purpose. Such suspension was probably from the neck or ears for it was not in accordance with old native habits to hang such things up on a wall, or elsewhere, as we do. But an old-time Maori would not be doing anything very unusual, we believe, if he suspended a narrow, thin, 10 in. piece of greenstone from his neck, for this was the precious stone of Maoriland.
At page 495 of vol. xxv of the "Transactions of the New Zealand Institute" is depicted a small nephrite adze 3½ in. long that has a small hole bored in the upper part near the edge. Apart from these, there seem to have also been made by the natives miniature adze-shaped pendants of various materials, even as such items were made of amber in Scandinavia and of jet in Britain.
Such is the only form of perforations we find in Maori stone adzes or chisels. In no case has there ever been seen anything like a hole through or into which a handle could have been inserted.
It is possible that some of the long narrow chisels were used without a handle, or, if a small handle was used, that no mallet was employed, the tool being used as one may use the point of a knife in carving. When engaged in using a chisel as a graver in doing fine carving, the ingrained habits of his race prompt the Maori to use a modern steel chisel as his forefathers used a stone one. He does not utilize the handle as we do, but grasps the chisel low down on the metal blade, the blade lying across the palm of his right hand, the edge pointing to his left. Such is his method and he does good work in that manner.
But the smallest of these chisels, many of which are made of nephrite, must have been hafted as shown in the illustration, for one page 132could not obtain sufficient purchase otherwise to enable one to do any work with them. In fact, we have evidence that they were hafted with the straight handle already described and shown. Chisels were very carefully and neatly lashed on to handles, often by means of reversing or crossing the lashing-cord. Thus a favoured device in such lashing was that known as kauaerua (a crossed lashing).
In accounts of early voyagers to New Zealand we read of "little chisels (of green nephrite) inserted in a wooden handle," as having been presented to Europeans by Maoris.
Captain Hutton writes, "Chisels are long in shape, and with a sharp ground edge. The small nephrite chisels were mounted in a straight handle, and used with a wooden mallet." Specimens of wooden mallets used for such work may be seen in the Dominion Museum. The Rev. Mr. Stack speaks of having seen natives using long narrow chisels in carving woodwork when he came to New Zealand. Those chisels were made of nephrite.
We have already shown that a mallet was not used with the form of chisel termed a ripi, which was used as a graver.