A master-carver’s wood working adze.

A master-carver’s wood working adze.

A master-carver’s wood working adze mounted with a long, tanged, triangular blade. The elegance and dimensions of the blade as well as its remarkable state of preservation show that this was a tool of the utmost importance. It is reported that artists would put their favorite adze “to sleep” in the temple on the night before beginning an important sculpture so that the adze would benefit from the powers instilled by the gods. The shaft is superbly rendered with a complex cross section ranging from the flared, perfectly circular pommel to oval and on to a sharp-ended egg shape towards the heel of the adze. The binding is made of sennit (braided coconut husk) tightly wrapping the tanged blade to its carved-out lodging and buffered with a section of shark or stingray skin.

Provenance: From the private collection of a British antique furniture dealer c. 1940/50.

Rarotonga or Mangaia Islands, Cook Islands, Polynesia. basalt, coconut fiber, fish skin, wood. 66,5 x 9,2 x 26,7 cm. 18th/19th century.