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

Three figures representing people standing in front of two mask-like heads which are resting against a low wall-like support. One mask has a horn protruding from the side of the head and the other has two horns. The centre figure is holding a horn in its right hand and a perforated cylinder in its left, and she is wearing a short-sleeved dress. The woman on her right has her arms outstretched towards the masks, and she is wearing a sling around her waist over a sleeveless dress. The man on her left is holding a chicken, and he is wearing a sleeveless tunic and short pants. The heads, arms, legs, masks and three horns are dark brown. The chicken and perforated object are light red-brown. The clothing and two horn containers are light yellow-brown. Carvings are set on a platform covered with thorn tree chips.