Samoan Material Culture
Type I. Adzes (Pl. XXXVI, A). The adzes grouped under Type I, form the most numerous in the collection. The type is quadrangular and narrows page 335markedly from edge to poll. The front is not so wide as the back and narrows more progressively towards the poll so that the angles formed with the sides become more obtuse as the poll is approached. The surface is well ground but may be rough towards the poll. The sides are fairly evenly chipped and usually not ground which results in the front edges being irregular. They are, however, ground towards the lower end to define the ends of the cutting edge, while sharp edges left by chipping may be removed by grinding. The back is evenly chipped but irregular knobs and deep depressions occur. The bevel is quadrilateral but the chin defining its upper border may be irregular owning to the unground nature of the back, or it may be ground off. No distinctive line occurs between blade and butt though the butt part is usually less carefully chipped. The poll may be trimmed to form a surface which slopes upwards and backwards.
Figure 172.—Terminology of triangular adzes:
1, front; 2, back; 3, sides; 4, front edges; 5, back edges; 6, median ridge; 7, poll; 8, bevel; 9, edge (cutting); 10, chin. Triangular adz with front median ridge: a, front; showing median ridge (6), small triangular front surface (1), two sides (3), and back edges (5); b, back, showing wide back (2), quadrangular bevel (8), transverse chin (10), and back edges (5). Triangular adz with back median ridge: c, front; wide front surface (1) and front edges (4); d, back; median ridge (6), two sides (3), triangular bevel (8), chin reduced to a point (10), and front edges (4).
The front is convex longitudinally and usually slightly so transversely. The actual front surface, owing to coarse chipping at the sides of the butt, may be narrowed to a point, thus making the surface triangular in shape. The chipping of the back is fairly level but it is convex longitudinally and slightly so transversely. The edge is straight but may be slightly raised at the ends. In most adzes the edge is the widest part of the adz, but in a few it is slightly narrowed by grinding the lower end of the sides. (See fig. 173.)page 336
Figure 173.—Adz, Type I (B. 8937):
a, front well ground, narrowing 43 mm. at the cutting edge to 12 mm. at the poll; sides, chipped, showing greater slope in butt portion; poll surface, chipped, sloping upwards and backwards; b, back, chipped, no grinding, wider than front and less narrowing towards the poll; bevel, well ground with irregular chin; c, sides, regularly chipped, deeper in middle owing to longitudinal convexity of front and back, shows chin; d, cross sections, showing greater slope of sides near the poll and straight edge below.
Figure 174.—Adz, Type I, thick variety (c. 820):
a, front, well ground, parts of sides showing; b, back, well chipped; bevel well ground, narrow; c, side; thickness marked; longitudinal convexity marked in front, less at back; front lateral convexity causes part of front surface to be seen on the side; sides ground towards lower end; d, cross sections show thickness of butt and blade in upper part.
Long, narrow adzes, showing greater length in proportion to width, are illustrated by a well-made adz from. Upolu. Less narrowing of the front towards the poll is naturally accompanied by less outward slope of the sides in that part. Though 7 mm. longer than the preceding thick variety, it is 11 mm. less in thickness in the middle. (See fig. 175.)
Figure 175.—Adz, Type I, long narrow variety (c. 784):
a, front, well ground, not so narrowed on butt; sides less sloped out; b, back, well chipped, except for knob near bevel making chin irregular and rounded off by grinding passing on to back, right corner rounded off reducing width of cutting edge; c, side view shows longitudinal convexity of front and back, part of back surface seen; d, cross sections emphasize nearer approach of front width to that of back, steeper sides and comparative thinness compared to the thick variety.
Figure 176.—Adz, Type I, long narrow (L. 1475):
a, front, irregular chipping on left side has resulted in irregular front chipped and some of ridges ground, bevel rounded off leaving no distinct chin; c, side, sharp edge between flake hollows well ground down; d, sections show greater slope on right side.
A small adz from Tutuila illustrates a long narrow, thin variety. (See fig. 176.)
Wide, thin adzes, comparatively short, are illustrated by an adz from Tau. (See fig. 177.)
Figure 177.—Adz, Type I, short, wide, thin (L. 1471):
a, front, well ground, very little of sides showing; b, back, chipped in from sides leaving irregular median ridge; making chin curve, neighboring part of median ridge ground off on back surface; c, side, partly ground lateral surface on right, part of back surface shown on left sloping back to median ridge; d, cross section shows width with comparative thinness.
Figure 178.—Adz, Type 1, short, wide, thin (c. 809);
a, front, surface well ground but a deep flake depression not entirely removed; part of sides seen; poll surface, chipped; b, back roughly chipped with marked transverse convexity resulting in curved chin, right lower corner broken; c, sides well ground, part of back seen; upward backward chipping of poll evident; d, cross sections showing thinness.
Type II. Adzes (Pl. XXXVI, B). Roughly-made adzes of Type II look: like unfinished forms of Type I but, from well-finished examples, the employment of a different technique to create a distinct type is obvious.
On the front, the anterior surface resembles Type I in being narrower than the back, well ground, and narrowing towards the poll. Owing to the coarser chipping of the sides, the front edges are more irregular and in poorly made adzes this feature is marked at the butt end.
The sides are formed by coarser chipping with more of an outward slant so that the edge between the front and side surfaces forms a more obtuse angle than in Type I. The side surfaces are narrower and in a side view they may occupy less space than the backward projection of the posterior surface. The back edges are well defined but irregular owing to the coarse chipping of the adjoining surfaces.
Figure 179.—Adz, Type II, subtype a, with posterior median ridge (c. 788):
a, front, well ground narrowing towards poll, shallow chipping depressions not entirely removed; front edges distinct but irregular; greater outward slope of sides shows up more of coarsely chipped sides; b, back; coarse chipping from sides, distinct median ridge; triangular bevel with base angles cut off by grinding lower end of sides, bevel grinding on right passes back on to posterior surface, chin distinct; c, side; coarsely chipped surface bounded on right by front edge and on left by irregular back edge which divides it from back surface; front longitudinal convexity well marked; d, sections: three upper sections show up posterior median ridge giving sections a pentagonal appearance, also shows greater outward slope of sides; section through bevel shows convex curve of sides due to grinding lower ends towards cutting edge.
The back of the adz, instead of forming a fairly level surface, projects considerably in the middle line. In chipping the back inward from the sides, a marked longitudinal median ridge may be formed, or the ridge may be rounded off, yet leaving the back with a pronounced transverse convexity. page 340The bevel is well ground while the chin varies with the form of the back surface.
Though much variation occurs, the method of treating the back by leaving a median ridge or rounding it off justifies the adzes of Type II being divided into two subtypes.
Type II, subtype a. The chipping of the back results in a median longitudinal edge which divides the back surface into two, giving the appearance in cross section of five surfaces instead of four. The median ridge may be irregular, diverge to either side, but is yet distinct. The bevel is triangular though the two sides formed by the shoulder may not be quite straight owing to the depressions and edges encountered by the ground plane of the bevel when it meets the chipped surface at the back. A well-made adz from Savaii illustrates the subtype. (See fig. 179.)
A chipped unfinished adz from Tau also shows a well-marked posterior median ridge. (See fig. 180.)
Figure 180.—Adz, Type II, subtype a with posterior median ridge (L. 2029):
a, front; surface not ground, irregular owing to coarse chipping of sides, measurements of width taken between widest parts (back edges): b, back; median ridge distinct but diverging to side on butt; bevel, chipped and retouched at cutting edge, triangular shape, ready for grinding; poll, chipped from front and back resulting in curved edge; c, side; surface, narrow; back edges, distinct; back surface projects well back to median ridge; d, sections; upper section shows posterior ridge to right of middle line; lower section shows marked outward slope of sides and distinct median ridge.
Type II, subtype b. The chipping of the back, instead of forming two inclined planes which meet at a sharp ridge, forms one rounded surface with a marked lateral convexity which results in a curved chin. An adz from Tau illustrates the rounded back. (See fig. 181.)
A well-finished adz, also from Tau, shows less backward projection. (See fig. 182.)
Figure 181.—Adz, Type II, subtype b, rounded back (L. 1468):
a, front; well ground, bounded by irregular front edges due to uneven chipping of sides; b, back; surface fairly evenly chipped; bevel grinding not finished but when complete would show curved chin; c, side; surface, rough, well ground towards lower end but badly chipped on opposite side; back surface, back projection well marked; d, sections; upper near poll, irregular; middle section, shows narrow side surfaces with well rounded convex curve of back; section through bevel shows marked grinding on right but left side has been chipped off.
Figure 182.—Adz, Type II, subtype b, round back (L. 1469):
a, front well ground; front edges distinct but irregular; b, back, well chipped but deep depressions in parts; bevel bounded by curved chin slightly marred by deep hollow near middle; poll surface slopes forward and upwards; c, side, coarsely chipped; back edge ground to remove sharp edges between flake depressions, resulting in narrow zigzag ground strip; d, sections show irregular depth of two sides, also rounded back with less projection than in preceding adz.
Progressive grinding. The outstanding feature of the two types described is the reduction of grinding to the minimum required in providing a cutting edge. In adzes the cutting edge is transverse and is formed by an approximately straight anterior surface and a posterior bevel surface. The great majority of Samoan adzes range under Types I and II in the working of which the craftsmen adhered to the principle of minimum grinding. In grinding the front of the adz, practically the whole surface came in contact with the grindstone and shared in the removal of the chipped hollows. In grinding the bevel at an angle with the front, the plane of the back surface was never in contact with the grindstone and hence remained in the chipped condition, except for small trimmings at times near the chin. To define the all-important cutting edge exactly the neighboring parts of the sides were trimmed up by grinding. Except for the lower part and some grinding down of sharp chipped edges, the sides also remained in the chipped condition.
The slight grinding of the sides, however, introduced a slight departure from the principle of minimum grinding, which may progress to the extent of grinding the sides over the full extent of the lateral surfaces as in the Manuan adz belonging to Type I. (See fig. 183.)
Figure 183.—Adz, Type I, with sides ground (L. 1473):
a, front; well ground, upper part at slightly different plane; side surfaces show as narrow strip due to steeper slope formed by grinding; front edges more regular with chipping irregularities removed; b, back; surface evenly chipped level, resulting in regular chin, though higher on one side; c, side well ground to remove all depressions; back edge, regular, with very little of back showing owing to improved level chipping; d, sections, showing steeper slope of ground sides, practically vertical on right of middle section.
A further progression in grinding includes the back as well as the sides which occurs in an Upolu adz, also of Type I. (See fig. 184.)
The two preceding adzes though typical in shape to Type I have introduced new departures in the extra employment of grinding. The application of grinding to all surfaces leads the way to Type III.page 343
Figure 184.—Adz, Type I, with grinding of sides and back (C. 783);
a, front, surface well ground, some slight depressions remain, narrow towards poll; front edges, regular; both side surfaces seen; b, back; surface well ground throughout, flat in both directions; chin straight clear cut, slightly oblique but parallel with cutting edge; c, side surface well ground but some slight depressions left; back edges clean cut but back surface not seen owing to flat grinding of the back; d, sections; middle sections show sides are ground convex transversely.
Type III. Adzes (Pl. XXXVI, C). Adzes of Type III are quadrangular and well ground on all surfaces except the poll. The back is still wider than the front but the difference is not so marked as in Types I and II, owing to the steeper transverse slope of the sides. The narrowing of the adz towards the poll is not so marked as in the previous types. All longitudinal edges are straight and the chin is marked and straight horizontally. The front, back, and sides are convex transversely and the front and back slightly convex longitudinally. A good example from Tau is shown in figure 185.
Figure 185.—Adz, Type III (C. 586):
a, front; the well ground surface shows only 1 mm. difference in width between the lower end and the poll; front edges, clearly defined and fairly even part of the sides show up; poll slopes backward and upward; b, back, surface ground throughout though a few depressions remain, convex in both directions; one corner broken off; chin well marked, straight horizontally; c, sides, well ground slight depressions remain; narrow strips of front and back show owing to their transverse convexity; thickness, fairly even throughout; d, sections; sides, steep slope, slight difference in thickness and slope on either side.
Figure 186.—Broken adz, Type III (C. 796):
a, front; well ground, lower end narrows slightly; front edges straight; sides narrow strip showing; b, back well ground clear cut back edges; chin well marked and horizontal; c, sides; well ground, all depressions removed; angle of chin, marked; d, sections steep sides and fairly straight transversely.
The Savaii broken adz shows the culmination of grinding for Samoa. The removal of all depressions frees the longitudinal edges from the irregularities observed in the preceding two types. Broken adzes of the same type have been found in both eastern and western Samoa which warrants their being regarded as a distinct type and not merely sporadic improvements of Type I.
In the three types of adzes described, the common feature is that the back is wider than the front. A reversal in the width of the two surfaces marks a new type.
Figure 187.—Adz, Type IV, subtype a, reverse quadrangular (L. 2186):
a, front, surface well ground but slight hollows left near edges, narrows towards poll; broken off; b, back, surface narrow, well ground except for hollow towards poll; back edges, distinct but irregular on left owing to uneven chipping; side surfaces show up owing to marked inward slope of sides; bevel well ground with arched chin, irregular chipped poll surface; c, side fairly well ground but all hollows not removed; d, sections; top shows transverse convexity of sides, middle section shows different slope of the two sides.
Type IV. Adzes (Pl. XXXVI, D). In adzes of Type IV, the sides instead of sloping outwards from the front, slope inwards and backwards. The inward slope is not a mere accident due to overgrinding past a right angle, but is due to deliberate technique to make the back narrower than the front. It is thus a reverse technique to that of the three preceding types. The inward slope is marked so that the sides form acute angles with the front at the front edges. The slope of the sides may end in longitudinal edges which define a narrow back surface or the slope may be continued to form a rounded back without edges. The treatment of the back results in two subtypes.
Figure 188.—Adz, Type IV, subtype a, reverse quadrilateral (C. 794):
a, front evenly ground throughout, convex in both directions, sharply defined straight front edges; b, back, evenly ground, rounds off towards the poll; back edges distinct but slightly rounded off towards the poll; sides steeper; bevel well ground regular shape, straight chin; poll slightly touched up by grinding but surface occupied by hollow of a large flake; c, side well ground; d, sections show transverse convexity of sides; each with different slope.
Type IV, subtype a. The subtype may be termed the reverse quadrilateral as the front is wider than the back. The sides slope inwards and meet the narrower back surface in distinct back edges. An adz from Tutuila illustrates the subtype. (See fig. 187.)
Figure 189.—Adz, Type IV, subtype b, rounded back (C. 794):
a, front, wide even surface well ground; poll surface with slight upward and backward slope; lower edge broken away; b, back, well ground throughout; slight indication where back edges were ground off; bevel well ground, forms distinct edge with rounded back; c, side shows all hollows removed by grinding; d, sections show rounded back with slight flattening in the middle.
Type IV, subtype b. In the second subtype there are no posterior longitudinal edges and the sides and back form a continuous rounded surface. A small Savaii adz illustrates the rounding off of the back edges. (See fig. 189.)
A small adz from Tau shows the range of the subtype. (See fig. 190.)
Figure 190.—Adz, Type IV, subtype b (B. 8936):
a, front, wide even surface rounded off toward poll, well ground, slightly different plane on upper left; b, back rounded but more sharply convex on right, well ground; bevel well ground with arched chin; c, side well ground throughout but chipped at lower end; d, sections show general convexity with sharper curve on right of middle section.
A fragment from Tutuila is perfectly ground throughout and forms an intermediate between the two subtypes. (See fig. 191.)
Figure 191.—Adz, Type IV, intermediate between subtype a and b (C. 320):
a, front, well ground, narrowed at edge and towards poll; b, back distinct longitudinal edge on right, other parts rounded off except for short edge meeting bevel; well ground throughout, bevel well defined with chin; c, side well ground; d, sections show rounded back.
Four adzes of Type IV were picked up on Manase, Savaii, and the presence of well-made specimens in Tutuila and Tau show the distribution of the type through the Samoan group.
Type V. Adzes (Pl. XXXVII, A). Two adzes, showing the reverse form to Type IV, have been grouped in Type V. One of them from Tau looks page 347like a waterworn stone that has been ground at the back to form a posterior surface, from which a bevel has been ground to form a cutting edge, which is, unfortunately, badly chipped. The type thus has a rounded front which merges into the sides without front edges. The back has a well-ground surface bounded on the sides by distinct back edges. (See fig. 192.)
Figure 192.—Adz, Type V (X. 1491):
a, front, well ground throughout; convex longitudinally and markedly so transversely, no front edges; narrow to a rounded poll; b, back surface well ground, narrowing to poll, marked back edges; rounded sides visible to outer side of back edges; bevel ground and rounded off into back with no distinct chin; c, side shows continuation of front and back in same transverse convexity; d, sections, middle shows rounded front and sides with back edges formed with flat back; bevel surface concave transversely.
Both the preceding adzes have a curved cutting edge. A much thinner adz from Tau conforms to the type feature of a rounded front but the transverse convexity is more marked at the sides. (See fig. 194.)