Toki – Maori Adze Head

Maori Art Toki Maori Adze Head Design Pounamu Carving Kura Gallery New Zealand Art Design

The Toki (Maori Adze) symbolizes authority, strength and triumph over adversity.Maori fashioned pounamu (greenstone) into tools such as chisels for carving and the adze (toki). These tools were used for the building and decorating of canoes (waka) and houses (whare). Toki ranged from very plain tools through to magnificent works of art. They were skillfully shaped from all kinds of the stone, but the most prized was the hard pounamu that could keep a sharp cutting edge comparable with metal. Each toki pounamu started as a slab of pounamu that was sliced, shaped and sharpened under the pressure of the human hand, water and sandstone.

The ceremonial adzes were made of the best of pounamu. They were crafted and polished to highlight the stones colour, translucency and exquisiteness. The toki poutangata commands respect for its size, its appearance and the authority of the person holding it. The term toki poutangata derives from the fine notches thought to represent past generations that are often grooved into the edges of these adzes.

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