Volume 58 1949 > Volume 58, No. 2 > Book notices, p 77-81
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WEBSTER, K. ATHOL: The Armytage Collection of Maori Jade. Photography by John Queenborough, A.R.P.S. The Cable Press, 62 Doughty Street, London. 80 pages, 35 half-tone blocks. Price 10/6, post free.

Students of Maori ethnography should be doubly indebted to the author, first for his energetic part in saving this remarkable collection of worked nephrite from piecemeal dispersal in Britain, and no less for his enterprise in issuing this excellent illustrated monograph to record it. Here, Mr. Webster's British collaborator, Mr. Queenborough, comes in for an equal share of praise, as well as the distinction of illustrating hei tiki better than I can recall seeing them in half-tone blocks. Every one of the eighty-five tiki is in addition admirably documented and described, and the author's classification of them by type, sex, material, and, where available, locality, is an important contribution to the formal study of these amulets. Those illustrated range up to a perfect example, over 5½ inches in length, from Kaiapoi, while there are three of the rare double sided tiki. In addition there are adzes, and miscellaneous amulets including a unique hei matau in the form of a utilitarian one-piece hook from Whangaroa. Doubtless from over familiarity with labels in British museums, and the habit of poring over nineteenth century catalogues, Mr. Webster describes the material as “jade,” a term which has a definitely archaic connotation in New Zealand.

In his introduction the author narrates the vicissitudes of the collection, from its formation by John White, through its interlude in Bristol Museum, its purchase by T. E. Donne, and its final acquisition by Edward Armytage. On the latter's death in 1946 the impending dispersal of the collection was only prevented by the efforts of the author, in collaboration with the Auckland and Dominion Museums, and it has all come home again.

The author is a New Zealander, resident in London, and his promising interest in Maori and Polynesian ethnography was developed in Britain.


NOTE.—A few copies of this are obtainable from the Secretary of the Society.


BEYER, H. OTLEY:, (1.) “Philippine and East Asian Archaeology, and its Relation to the Origin of the Pacific Islands Population.” National Research Council of the Philippines. Bulletin 29. 1948. 130pp., 2 maps, 32 figs.

(2) “Outline Review of Philippine Archaeology by Islands and Provinces.” Philippine Journal of Science. Vol. 77, Nos. 3-4 (July-August), 1947. (Printing was not begun until the first - 78 week of May, 1948. On the night of May 8th the Bureau of Printing was entirely consumed by fire, and all printed pages, type, and printing-blocks were destroyed. Two complete and two partial sets of the page-proofs were saved. Professor Beyer has had the missing pages of one of the latter typed and has generously forwarded the volume, strongly bound, for review.)

(3) Early History of Philippine Relations with Foreign Countries, especially China. Manila National Printing Co. April, 1948.

BEYER, H. OTLEY, and DE VEYRA, JAIME C.: (4) Philippine Saga. A Pictorial History of the Archipelago. 152pp. 1948. Numerous pictures of archaeological and ethnographical interest.

These four books form a major contribution to the study of Oceanic archaeology. They present a mass of data demonstrating the point from which the stone implement types and presumably much else in Polynesian material culture moved out into the historic Polynesian area. Professor Beyer was primarily interested in the archaeology and history of the Philippines, but his collections constitute also a contribution of major importance in the Polynesian field.

Professor Beyer's excavations in Luzon began in 1926. His collections numbered more than half a million pieces, the greater part derived from excavations on neolithic sites. Included were more than 10,000 stone adzes and chisels from the Batangas and Rizal-Bulakan areas. “Thousands of the plain-backed nephrite tools (adzes) have been found.” (1, p. 45.) The effects of war on such collections is illustrated by the following passage (Philippine Jnl. Sci., Vol. 77, 3-4, p. 231): “The collections of this five-year period totalled nearly half a million specimens, of which, unfortunately, about seventy-five per cent of the bulkier material was destroyed during the recent war. Some specimens can of course be recovered from the Bureau of Science and Ermitu ruins, but they are all more or less damaged and the labels lost. Luckily, the set of catalogues and field notes was preserved, and a good cross-section of the entire collection still survives. Many of the rare specimens lost had been photographed and described in detail and, although our negatives were lost, a fairly good set of file-prints still remains.” Professor Beyer was arrested by the Japanese but in the earlier part of the occupation was allowed to continue work at the museum. From his books it can be gathered that Japanese archaeologists remained friendly towards him throughout.

Professor Beyer's survey covers the whole field of human history in the Philippines. He begins with Meganthropus paleojavenicus dated half a million years ago and moves on through Pithecanthropus erectus and allied forms, known at present in the Philippines only by stone tools of crude design. There is a brief survey of the Philippine Mesolithic, characterised by large numbers of microliths in obsidian and flint. Speaking of the numerous Mesolithic stations throughout Malaysia, Beyer says (1, p. 15): “I believe that Stein Callenfels and others have too readily united all these scattered Mesolithic cultures into a single ‘Melanesoid’ type, although, for the present, I can - 79 suggest no better terminology for them. I do feel, however, that the microlithic obsidian and flint cultures should be sharply differentiated from other Mesolithic or late Paleolithic remains containing Hoabinhian or Sumatra-type implements, as I feel that two entirely different types of people are here represented.” The two ancient cultures mentioned are certainly very different. But attempts to attach them in any general way to physical types of man are in the present state of knowledge, worse than fruitless—they inevitably create confusion and error. A microlithic culture at the Mesolithic level is found in an area stretching from western Europe to south-eastern Australia. This culture or type of stone manipulation must have been used in different countries by men of widely different physical types. What that type was at any given site can be determined only when excavation yields human bones at that site. When excavational evidence does not exist the bandying of such terms as Melanesoid, Australoid, Papuan, Negroite, Sakai, or Toala only clouds discussion. Professor Beyer believes that the Early Neolithic culture spread into the Philippines and other parts of the Malaysian region in an already developed state at a time when these areas were widely populated by microlith-using people, and that these latter folk continued side by side or partly intermingled with the less numerous Early Neolithic immigrants.

The Proto-neolithic of South-east Asia has been given the name Bacsonian, after a site in northern Indo-China. No sizable deposits have yet been found outside Indo-China but typical Bacsonian adzes or axes occur in Australia and in Luzon. The true Neolithic in the Philippines is divided into three phases, characterised by (1) “cylindrical or oval adze-axe”; (2) “shoulder adze-axe”; (3) “rectangular (quadrangular; frequently trapezoidal) adze.”

Dr. Beyer discusses at length the source from which the Philippine Neolithic is derived. He points to the closely related Neolithic cultures of Cambodia and of the Hongkong area, and he mentions allied types of implements in Formosa, Shantung, Japan, and Manchuria. At this point he hesitates and leaves us with no definite lead. In actual fact there is strong evidence that some of the most characteristic types of implement in the Philippine and Polynesian Neolithic were present in the forest region of Manchuria and Eastern Siberia in ancient times, and probably originated there, passing north-eastward into the North American continent and southward along the eastern Asiatic coastlands to Korea, Japan, Formosa, South China, Cambodia, the Philippines, and Polynesia.

The earliest Neolithic phase began in the Philippines about 1750 B.C. The second is tentatively dated 1250-800 B.C., (1, p. 39), while the latest is dated 800-200 B.C. (1, p. 40). No true Bronze Age is represented. The early Iron Age contains many elements derived from India.

In title number three Dr. Beyer says (p. 2): “There is now no doubt but that the principal phases of the Neolithic or New Stone Age culture reached the Philippines directly from South China and - 80 northern Indo-China. The earliest phase, characterised by the use of round or oval stone axes, can be dated back to the third millenium B.C.; the second phase, bringing in the shouldered and ridged stone adzes, with possibly some use of jade, goes back at least prior to 1750 B.C.; while the third phase, or fully developed Late Neolithic with rectangular or trapezoidal stone adzes and other tools, brought in the extensive use of ancient jade (nephrite), and a very limited copper-bronze culture, in a series of waves beginning before 1500 B.C., and extending down to the entry of the first iron-using culture which came into the Philippines from the south about the 3rd or 2nd century B.C. While these Neolithic cultures undoubtedly all came into the Philippines from China or Indo-China, we cannot properly speak of them as “Chinese” in the modern sense of the term. Some of the earlier phases were probably “pre-Chinese,” while the latter phases might properly be spoken of as “proto-Chinese” or “very early Chinese”—related to the Yang-shao remains (described in 1923 by J. G. Anderson).”

Archaeologists and typologists in Polynesia have long been aware that adzes closely allied to some of the recognised Polynesian types were present in the neolithic of Cambodia (J.P.S., Vol. 33 (1923), p. 240), and that these types do not occur in the Malay Peninsula, or Burma, or in India. One or two of these types were known from the Celebes (Ibid, Plate 20), and it was conjectured that they occurred also in the Philippines. Professor Beyer's publications give full assurance that this is the case. There is now only one important type of Polynesian adze, the “hog-backed” (Type 4, Proceedings of the Third Congress of Prehistorians of the Far East (Singapore, 1940) pp. 142-172, and J.P.S., Vol. 52 (1943), p. 74) which has not been recorded from the Philippines, Celebes, or from Cambodia. Even such a minor feature as the two lugs or ears on the butt of one Polynesian adze-type seems to occur in South-east Asia, for in his bibliography of manuscript titles Professor Beyer records the following title, by Tadao Karo: “Eared Stone Axes form South-East Asia.” What Polynesian students of material culture now need are drawings of numbers of characteristic adzes, with local and stratigraphic information, each piece represented by three drawings—front, back, and side—and by cutting edge and cross-sections. They are thirsty also for drawings of knives, saws, files, drills, gimlets, groovers, scrapers, and all the other neolithic stone tools.

Of very great interest is the information given about the extensive use of nephrite in the Philippine Late Neolithic. In the passage just quoted the terms “nephrite” and “jade” are wrongly termed synonyms. It seems clear from Fig. 25, “Special Nephrite Tools from the Batangas Site,” and from examples of the sawing and hole-boring technique in Fig. 26, that New Zealand nephrite tools and techniques are closely allied to nephrite tools and techniques of Luzon. On present evidence this is not true of nephrite tools and techniques in New Caledonia. Maori mythology relating to nephrite strongly suggests that the Polynesian explorers of New Zealand were looking for nephrite or for rocks with similar characteristics.

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Professor Beyer states that there is no evidence of pottery in the great mass of finds from the latest phase of the Philippine Neolithic which gave rise to the Neolithic of Polynesia. It has generally been supposed that the Proto-Polynesians knew the art of pottery, but lost the art in their movement among coral or purely volcanic islands where raw material was not available. This explanation of the absence of pottery now appears superflous. The absence of microliths in Polynesia and their presumed absence in Melanesia are of interest on the theoretical side, since they are strongly represented in Australia. In the second map of Item 1, a line of cultural and populational migration is drawn southward from Luzon to New Caledonia and on to New Zealand. This is not acceptable to archaeologists here.