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The Coming of the Maori

Rotatory Adzes

Rotatory Adzes

Rotatory adzes, sometimes termed socketted adzes, are a specialized form in which the cutting edge could be rotated on a vertical axis to acquire the advantages of an axe for working in narrow spaces such as the bow part of a canoe hold. Rotation was obtained by introducing a short rounded staff as an intermediate vertical axis between the adze head and a toeless haft. The lower end of the axis was shaped to fit the adze butt to which it was lashed with transverse turns. The front of the foot was grooved to receive the upper part of the axis which was lashed to it by a separate lashing. The groove and the lashing formed a "sleeve", which, while supporting the axis, allowed it to rotate the cutting edge of the adze into the angle desired with the line of the shaft. The part of the axis carrying the adze head projected below the foot and took the place of the toe. The axis was thus a rotating toe. The term "socket" has been applied to this intermediate piece but as it is a misnomer as regards function, the term "axis" seems preferable.

Hafted rotatory adzes have been recorded from Hawaii and Tahiti. The Tahitian specimen in Figure 39a has a lower transverse lashing for the adze head and an upper triple-triangular lashing to complete the sleeve for the axis. The pointed upper end of the axis projects well above the heel of the haft.