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 are carved by men and 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.


This thorn carving was made specifically for the donors by the artist.

Cultural context

craft; tourist art

Specific techniques

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.

Physical description

Figure representing a woman standing bent over with her left arm outstretched and limbs bare. She is wearing a complex cap, a sleeveless dress, and a baby on her back in a cloth sling which is encircling her waist. She is striking a small naked child on the left shoulder with a handled stick, which is held in her right hand. Child, baby's head, and woman's limbs are dark brown. The cap, clothing, base, and handled stick are light yellow-brown. On a wood base.