Summary | Raw material | Raw material procurement | Hammerstones | Nodule reduction and technology | Refrain said when knapping chert | Selection of flakes for use | Locations where men work with chert tools | Use and terminology | Storage and discard | Ritual uses of stone

4.7 Locations where men work with chert tools

Men usually performed the initial inspection of a nodule at the place where they found it. Unless just one small flake was required for a job, in which case it might be knapped off on the spot, the nodule was taken home to knap there. Knapping was normally done outdoors because of the danger of sharp waste flakes, particularly as people always went barefoot. Occasionally a man would carefully knap off a single flake indoors, for example if it was raining. There was a Wola saying, similar to the superstition about walking under ladders bringing bad luck, which signalled that it was unwise to work indoors: 'aendon aeray pokay sin mowmaek saen pop bukao' (lit: inside chert flake if pearl-shell debt repay make) or 'if you flake chert indoors someone from whom you have borrowed a pearl shell will come along and demand repayment in strong terms' (to your embarrassment). The usual place for knapping was adjacent to the house, to one side of the houseyard, not where people usually walked, for again there was the danger of people cutting themselves on the waste fragments.

The place where men were likely to use aeray chert tools was again in the vicinity of their house, either sitting inside or outside in the yard. They sometimes undertook repetitive tasks, such as smoothing an axe handle, while walking about.


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Last updated: Wed Oct 8 2003