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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Central Sudanic Arabic scripts (part 1): the popularization of the Kanawi script
Author:Brigaglia, Andrea
Periodical:Islamic Africa (ISSN 2154-0993)
Geographic terms:Nigeria
Northern Nigeria
writing systems
Arabic language
religious literature
External link:http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/10.5192/21540993020251
Abstract:In this article, the author draws attention to the Arabic calligraphic styles used in manuscripts and market editions produced in twentieth-century northern Nigeria. While research on the origins and history of the Arabic calligraphic scripts of the Central Sudan still needs to answer many questions, the article contends that, instead of focusing only on the few available sixteenth- or seventeenth-century manuscripts, researchers could also benefit from the study of the easily accessible twentieth-century Nigerian calligraphic hands, which have inherited and popularized more ancient calligraphic traditions. After reconstructing the career of a legendary calligrapher of Kano city - Sharif Bala Gabari - and looking at his work, as well as that of other contemporary calligraphers of the northern Nigerian metropolis, the author argues for the existence of a specific 'Kanawi' script used today for the realization of Korans and decorative copies of religious books. The contemporary Kanawi is an extension of a style that was known in the rest of West Africa as 'Hausawi' in precolonial times. Nigerian calligraphers consider this style, in its turn, to be an offshoot of more ancient scribal traditions that had their centre in Borno. If the script of Borno is the oldest form of Central Sudanic script, more research on the origins and development of the Borno scribal traditions and their Hausa offshoots is necessary in order to shed light on the position of the Central Sudan within the wider family of western Arabic scripts. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]