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.


It appears that a game of checkers is depicted in this carving.

Cultural context

craft; tourist art

Physical description

Two figures representing bareheaded males sitting on cylindrical stools facing each other. A black and white checkered board is balancing on their knees with three dark and three light checkers on the board. Clothing is light yellow-brown. Limbs, heads, and stools are dark brown. Base is of light brown wood.