Nsibidi , Nsibiri Script


Nsibidi( Nsibiri ) is a ideographic script found in Cross River in southeastern Nigeria and western Cameroon, among the Efik, Ekoi, Igbo, Ibibio, and related people. About a thousand symbols exist. Nsibidi in Ejagham means "cruel letters"  It conveys abstract ideas. Individuals of different ethnolinguistic groups can comprehend the script. 

The script is affiliated with the Ejagham and the all male secret Ngbe("Leopard") Society. Greater knowledge of the script is known by those only in the secret society. Nsibidi came in two broad form sacred and common. Sacred scripts dealt with death and initiation. It is very complex and can't easily be rendered. The common scripts deal with issues of love, reconciliation, birth, rebirth. These scripts are easly reproduces.

The symbols are represented by the human body. In Ngbe Society, a competition would be held, seeing who had greater command of abstract notions of nsibidi. Competitors would respond to challenges by making gestures or mime that parallel the nsibidi symbols, a competition of intellect and art. 

Nsibidi is written on the ground, represented in the air. It is transcribed on Ekpe drums, ukara cloth, and tattoos on the body, and on the exterior walls of homes. Nsibidi was used to record court cases and spread decrees. Some symbols told stories.