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

A small carving of a dug-out canoe containing three adult figures, one at either ends paddling while one is in the centre carrying a child on her back. Cargo consists of six vegetables in the bow, two pots between the first and the second figures and two piles of material that appear to be wood or stone between the second and the third figures. Paddlers are wearing sleeveless shirts over shorts and brimmed hats. Figure in the centre is wearing a short-sleeved dress and a tall spiral hat. Vegetables, wood/stone, and human figures are dark brown. Pots and clothing are light yellow-brown. Canoe and paddles are a very light yellow-brown.