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. A man with a slightly bent body is wearing a loose fitting shirt with elbow-length sleeves, a soft pointed cap, and knee-length pants. He is playing a double-headed pressure drum which is slung from his left shoulder by a narrow cloth strip. His right hand is holding a bent drumstick with which he is striking one end of the drum. The second figure is bowing, wearing a calf-length dress with elbow-length loose sleeves, and a soft cap with two points. She is holding a triangular, folded cloth with both hands, and her elbows are bent. Heads, limbs, and drum body are dark brown. Clothing and drum heads are light yellow-brown. Caps and folded cloth are light red-brown. Cloth strip is red-brown. On a wood base.