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Thorn carving depicting a teaching scene. Figures adhered to a rectangular particle board base with corners cut off. Scene features five figures seated around a panel of text. Four figures hold stick-like objects in their hands, but the figure on the end has an empty hand and appears to be missing his stick.

History Of Use

Thorn carvings are miniatures depicting a variety of scenes from Nigerian life. The carvings first began to be made circa 1930. The thorns vary in size; they can be as large as 12.7 cm long and 9.6 cm wide. The thorn wood is comparatively soft and easy to carve; they are traditionally carved by men.

Specific Techniques

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 that was made from rice cooked with water.


Most of the Nigerian objects in the Lieber collection were assumed to have been collected while Jack Lieber was living in Nigeria, 1965-1970. However one of the thorn carvings was made after 1971, so the dates are uncertain.

Cultural Context

craft; tourist art

Item History

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