Thorn Carving

About this object

History of use

Thorn carvings are miniatures depicting scenes from Nigerian life. This type of carving began circa 1930. Thorns vary in size. They can be as large as 12.7 cm. long and 9.6 cm. wide. They are comparatively soft and easily carved. The light yellow-brown thorn and the dark brown thorn come from the Ata tree; the light red-brown thorn comes from Egun trees. The parts are glued together with viscous paste made from rice cooked with water. They are carved by men.


Represents men's activities.

Cultural context

craft; tourist art

Physical description

Two figures representing people facing each other. One is wearing a short-sleeved shirt and knee-length trousers, sitting on the ground leaning against a three-pointed backrest. The second figure, in identical dress, is bending from the waist, and holding a pot with both hands. At the side of the sitting figure lies a blue object, possibly a knife. Heads, limbs, and backrest are dark brown. Clothing and pot are light yellow-brown. The base is brown wood.