Maori Chisel with Greenstone (Jade) Blade

Item BR119

This Item was Sold on 3 April 2009 for $66

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Historical Pricing information for this item and similar artifacts can be found at: Historical Artifact Prices.

This chisel was purchased in 1990 from a young, very talented, Maori carver in Christchurch, New Zealand. The handle is hardwood and the blade is attached by cordage, tightly wrapped around the blade at one end (see photo). The blade is made out of a very hard variety of Greenstone, ( Nephrite or Jade ). The Maori carver had carved several very large wooden sculptures using only this chisel as a tool. The Chisel has a very tiny chip on the cutting edge. The chip is so small that it cannot be seen in the photo below. The blade should be resharpened if it were to be used to make additional carvings.

New Zealand "greenstone" was extensively used by the native Maoris for tools and ceremonial objects. It is technically Nephrite, a kind of jade. It has a hardness of 6 to 6.5 on the Ohs scale, being harder than a knife blade. Its specific gravity is 3. It is a variety of amphibole: asbestos is a close relative. Nephrite has fine, fibrous crystals interlocked and twisted together into a felted mass, giving it great strength. For tool use, it will keep a sharp edge for a sustained period of time. Nephrite occurs in a wide variety of beautiful colors, ranging from intense dark green to a pale green. Sometimes it has black spotting. Near the cortex, the colors approach a yellow-green. Nephrite is found in only a few locations in New Zealand and was always highly prized by the resident Polynesians. It is also found in Alaska, California, Wyoming, British Columbia, Siberia and China.

Length = 210 mm ; Weight = 76 gm

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