Qur’anic Writing Tablet (Primary Title)

Unknown (Artist)

Stories Educational
19th–20th century
Hausa (Nigeria)
Wood, leather, string, pigment
Overall: 26 × 10 × 7/8 in. (66.04 × 25.4 × 2.22 cm)

Writing tablets like this one are used widely throughout Islamic areas of West Africa to teach students penmanship and to aid memorization of the Qur’an. This refined example was probably made in the city of Kano, an Islamic center in northern Nigeria and a hub of Hausa culture. The tablet’s curved base allows the user to rest the board comfortably against the waist or legs while writing. Its handle, unlike many examples in plain wood, is covered in leather with tooled designs typical of Hausa and Tuareg work. The text on the board, written in Maghribi script, is the first part of the Qur’an’s 36th sura (chapter). Local tradition holds that the ink used to write Qur’anic verse on such tablets has protective power; it is sometimes rinsed off with water and consumed as a form of spiritual medicine.

Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Fund
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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