Central Sudanic Arabic Scripts (Part 2): Barnāwī

Andrea Brigaglia, Mauro Nobili

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article describes and analyzes barnāwī, the Arabic script of Borno (northeastern Nigeria) and most ancient prototype of what we define as the Central Sudanic family of scripts. Barnāwī shows paleographic features that clearly set it apart from some other West African Arabic scripts, thereby confirming the inadequacy of the label sūdānī, which often surfaces in literature to collectively brand a variety of scripts used in different regions of West Africa. A paleographic analysis of barnāwī also suggests that its origins predate the development of the maghribī script in North Africa in the twelfth century.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-223
Number of pages29
JournalIslamic Africa
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 1 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • calligraphy
  • scripts
  • graphemes
  • African literature
  • handwriting
  • African culture
  • scriptwriting
  • Muslims
  • literary criticism
  • cultural geography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Religious studies
  • Cultural Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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