Benin/Nigeria  (Africa)

Benin or Nigeria. This cutting art from thornwood is thought to have started in Owo, Nigeria by Justus Dojomo Akeredolu, craft teacher at a public school in 1930. He wanted to find a substance, which was easy to cut and suitable for small details. He began to experiment with the wood of the thorns of the silk cotton tree. He learned the cutting art with this wood to its pupils, and today it is a narrative cutting art of detail and ability, showing daily performances of life. The thorns have shades of golden yellow to chocolate brown. Skilled cutters are using that to create special effects. I have never seen thornwood sets painted. These sets are made by the Yoruba for the tourist market, I believe. Plain/III 2021 mentions Benin, but 2nd set was bought in Lagos.

In the original design represents white the Yoruba and black the Hausa. The white King is an Oba, with veiled dressing. The Oba of Benin is the traditional ruler and the custodian of the culture of the Edo people and all Edoid people. Also the black King, an emir, has a veiled dressing. In the later version, of which 2 examples are listed here, is the original topic no longer understood. The distinction between the two parties is gone. The King is carried out as a man with crown or hat. The better carved 1st set has a woman veiled in dressing, exactly as the Oba in the original design, but now as Queen. A change of persons has taken place here! The box of that set as an Oba in relief outstretched on the cover. This pattern and monoblock type of set is quite rare, despite you see 2 here.

« of 9 »
  • Benin/Nigeria, after J. Dojomo Akeredolu
  • ca. 1980
  • Thornwood K 5.4; p 3.0-3.3
  • Box 10.5×20.0×9.6
« of 3 »
  • Benin/Nigeria, Lagos, after J. Dojomo Akeredolu
  • 1986
  • Thornwood K 5.9; p 3.7