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

Two standing figures representing people facing each other across a pump. One man is bareheaded, wearing a loose short-sleeved shirt and knee-length trousers with his right hand on the pump spout. The second figure is wearing a one piece short-sleeved garment and a wide brimmed hat with the right hand on the pump handle and the left hand on the shaft of the pump. A bucket stands at each end of the base of the pump, one under the spout, and one under the handle. All clothing is light yellow-brown. The heads and limbs are dark brown. Pump handle, spout, and pails are light red-brown. Base is brown wood.