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

Two figures representing a man and a woman standing on a wooden base. The man is wearing a pleated brimmed hat, a sleeveless loose tunic, and knee-length pants. He is sitting on a small cylindrical stool, holding between his legs a conical one-headed drum with striated sides. His arms are bending, and his fingers are resting on the edge of the drumhead. The woman is wearing a large softly draped hat, and a knee-length dress with elbow-length sleeves. She is standing with her feet slightly apart, and her arms slightly bent. She is bending forward as if bowing from the waist. Hats, dress, shirt, drumhead, and stool are light yellow-brown. Skin and drum body are dark brown.