Apr 1, 2021

Haft from a Ceremonial Adze

Haft from a Ceremonial Adze


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Wood, fiber

Overall: 10.2 cm (4 in.)

Gift of Richard Inglis 1940.1078.a



Before European contact, Polynesian carving tools were fashioned from bone, shell, stone, or teeth. The introduction of iron tools facilitated carving, while the demand of European sailors and missionaries for souvenirs provided a new market for craft products. Ceremonial adzes probably represented gods or spirits. The wooden handle of this example is carved with the characteristic K motif. The stone adze blade is lashed to the handle with finely plaited sennit fiber cord. According to legend, the distinctive pattern formed by the sennit lashing was taught to Mangaian craftsman by the gods.

See also
Oceanic Art
Type of artwork: 
Wood, fiber

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