NSIBIDI: AN ANCIENT SCRIPT
The continent of Africa is home to a wide variety of languages and some of the oldest known written communication systems. The Nsibidi script developed by the Ekoi people of present day Nigeria and adapted by the Igb is chief among. Often recorded on ancient pottery, scholars agree that the ideographic writing was in use as early as 400 CE. Sculptures, clothing, calabashes, and the skin were decorated with this ancient writing and became used as a method of communication through gestures and writing between houses. Kept sacred and secret amongst government officials and elite members of society, these ancient symbols were used to record court proceedings and trials and demonstrate wealth and power. Slaves taken to the Caribbean islands still use a form of the writing today, known there as Anaforuana and veve symbols. With over 1,000 symbols, Nsibidi writing is elaborate and creative, serving as inspiration for artists and for Wakanda's language in the blockbuster "Black Panther." Ceremonial cloths with Nsibidi symbols like the Ukara cloth pictured here are still used among the Ekpe (Leopard) Society today.
For more information see: https://africa.si.edu/exhibits/inscribing/nsibidi.html.