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Thorn carving depicting a group of people at a market. Figures adhered to rectangular particle board base. Figures are wearing various outfits including dresses, hats, pants, skirts and short sleeved shirts. Four women have babies strapped to their waists. There are two rows of three tables in the scene, each with a vendor and customer. All vendors are sitting on cylindrical stools. Three vendors are selling food, one is selling pottery, one is selling textiles and one is selling(?) combs. The textile vendor has a sewing machine and is in the process of making a white and blue striped cotton cloth. The comb vendor(?) is brushing the hair of a kneeling figure. There is a small bowl to the right of them. Base, figure outfits, five vendor tables tops and half of the food are light yellow-brown. Figures, stools, pots, sewing machine, one table top, all table bases, combs, bowl and half of food are dark brown. Donor initials on base.

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.


Acquired in Nigeria during the years 1975-76, when the donor’s father was teaching at the Benin Technical College, in Benin City, Nigeria. The whole family was there for two years, while his father worked under the auspices of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

Cultural Context

craft; tourist art

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.

Item History

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