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 Ogiya ceremony (collector's notes).

Cultural context

craft; tourist art

Physical description

Three bareheaded figures representing people holding ritual objects in their extended hands. They are surrounding a large mask and a ritual figure, both backed by a two-pronged stump-like support. The support on the right has two horn-shaped objects inserted into it. Large mask on the left has one horn on its head and two horn-shaped objects on its base. At the base of ritual figure, there are two containers and one cone-shaped object. Clothing, contents of dish, and two horn-shaped objects are light yellow-brown. Heads, limbs, mask, ritual figures, containers, three horn-like objects, and two stumps are dark brown. One horn-like object, a pitted club, and two rolled cloth ? offerings are light red-brown. On a square base of variegated thorn bush shavings.