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.

Cultural context

craft; tourist art

Physical description

Figures representing people arranged on a platform. Three figures are standing behind an important person (oba) holding umbrellas, one of which is wearing a sleeveless tunic, pants, and a conical hat and two of which are wearing short-sleeved tunics, pants, and conical hats. Three musicians are wearing sleeveless tunics, pants, and soft pointed hats. One musician is playing a double-waisted drum. Another is playing a gourd drum decorated with ata chips. One more is playing a single headed conical drum. Both of the latter are wearing short-sleeved tunics, pants, and soft pointed hats. One figure is wearing a short-sleeved tunic, pants, a soft pointed hat, and is holding a fan. Two figures are wearing short-sleeved dresses, plaited hair, and are kneeling on either side of the oba. The oba (high priest) is bearded and is wearing a robe, a pointed hat, and beads. He is receiving gifts from two prone figures wearing sleeveless tunics and pants. All clothing and drum heads are light yellow-brown. Arms, legs, and heads are dark brown.