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 men's activities.

Cultural context

craft; tourist art

Physical description

Three figures representing men moving a two-wheeled cart filled with five bags of cocoa beans. One man is wearing a short sleeveless shirt, knee-length trousers, and a two-tiered round hat while he is standing between the shafts of the cart and behind the cross bar with a hand on each shaft. The second is wearing an identical shirt, trousers, and hat. His back leans against the left, rear corner of the cart. The third man is bareheaded standing at the right rear corner of the cart and supporting a bag. He is wearing a loose short- sleeved shirt and knee-length trousers. The cart is a hollowed section of wood, supported on one cross axle with two wheels. The clothing is light yellow-brown. The heads, limbs, and cart wheels are dark brown. The hats, and bags of beans are red-brown. The whole is resting on a plywood base. One of twelve carvings glued to light brown burlap over cardboard. Cart and shafts are light brown wood.