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IMAGE DETAILS


Finch & Co

Maori ‘Toki’
Wood, greenstone, original Flax
New Zealand, early 19th century
H 53 cm
Provenance: private collection, Devon, England; by descent from a 19th century Naval family who traveled extensively around the British Empire
Literature: A similar example sold by Finch and Co in ‘Polynesia; The Mark and Carolyn Blackburn Collection of Polynesian Art’; Adrienne L. Kaeppler, 2010, item n° 476, p. 344
A further example can be found in Art and Artefacts of the Pacific, Africa and the Americas, The James Hooper Collection; Steven Phelps, 1976, pl. n° 12, item n° 86, p. 44

Before the introduction of metal, tools were limited but efficient. Nephrite ‘pounamu’ was highly prized, however ‘greywacke’ was more readily available and commonly used. The stone adze ‘toki’ was the principal tool used for felling and dressing timber, the blade secured to a strong, elbow-haft handle cut from a natural fork in the tree. Nephrite, number six on Moh’s hardness scale, was preferred as material because of its greater ability to take and retain a sharp working edge. It occurs in outcrops in the regions of the Taramakau and Arahura Rivers on the west coast of the South Island and near Lake Wakatipu further south.