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

Palm tree on a wood base of variegated thorn bush carvings. Figure is being held by a rope while climbing the tree. At the base of the tree, there are three ritual masks, one figure, five horns, and one vessel. The figure climbing the tree is wearing a short-sleeved shirt, short trousers, and a soft pointed hat. An axe is resting on his right shoulder. The small figure at the base has a horn placed on either side. Three remaining horns are placed on the masks and a vessel is placed between the small figure and the largest mask. The base, tree, masks, head, limbs, and three horns are dark brown. Hats, two horns, and vessel are light red-brown. Small figure at the base, shirt, and trousers are light yellow-brown.