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Any use of the symbols created in this project should first be checked through contact with this email: odensibiri@gmail.com.

28 April 2011


The nsibidi signs for numbers are from the representations of the amount of certain objects, the most common of these objects were rods, which were used as money in the days before European contact. The '5' was from an early source for nsibidi, as many of you probably know, this is a common way of writing down numbers amongst most world cultures. To differentiate numbers from rods, the bars at the end of the lines were removed. The characters pretty much explain themselves.

EDIT: Everyday numbers will be in Hindu Arabic script. 1234567890. The numbers posted here are just for special occasions and to preserve the original numbers.

11 April 2011

Previews (April 2011)

Date formatting. This is year (afor) from 'moon' and 'land'.

A date format in nsibidi and the Latin alphabet. The time it took to write both are noted in seconds.


Snippet sneak previews (wow) of the syllabary to come. These are derived from nsibidi as well.

Behind the nsibidi

Some of these notes are where I take existing nsibidi (the original ones) and try and make a new character with them. There's a lot of testing which is done to check the aesthetics as well as usability (on a daily basis) of each compound. I also simplify nsibidi this way, those that are too elaborate to use in writing (such as 'hawk'). The nsibidi are taken from a variety of geographical locations as well as cultures.

In the papers, there are some hints of the development of an nsibidi derived syllabary as well.

The main reason for the 'sentences' are to simply see if they look nice, and to also see the balance, consistency and relationship of the characters.

Although the sentence is gibberish, I think the title looks very balanced and consistent. Some of the characters were rushed in order to create a sentence and may change. Tell me what you think.

Also notice the date formatting, more on that later.

The angle was a test to see if this would work better as a 'full stop', but the circle seems to serve the writing system better.

The top character is 'love'. I think this is one of the characters that are universal amongst nsibidi-literate cultures around the Cross River and was public (used by everyone).

A fake paragraph done with repeating a gibberish sentence. Maybe from the nsibidi already suggested on this website you can decipher what it says.

Some rejected simplifications and compounds, this happens a lot and slows down the process. The nsibidi with asterisks beside them are old 100% original nsibidi. The one with the */2 is half original, as in it represents a man originally carrying money (okpogho), but I added a 'house' around him, bank.

17 March 2011


Middle + Fire/energy + Top + Land/Life = Chí

Note - 18 March 2011:
I understand that 'Chí' is a very abstract concept in Igbo culture (among many things), and this character was created to capture the basic "idea" of Chi. Many concepts in Igbo culture may not be able to be explained with words. The characters that will be created do not intend to add any meaning to the concepts, but to create a character that is, in a basic form, relevant to the concept as has been done with old nsibidi. Nsibidi characters used to import words into nsibidi writing will not attempt to explain the complete purpose of the concept it represents, but, instead, to roughly rationalise its use as a representative of that word. A circle with strokes around it will not explain the role of the sun in photosynthesis. Thanks for bringing this to my attention so I could explain.

Character Sheet 2

I will be uploading more and more of these character sheets.

11 March 2011

Character Sheet 1

Many of the characters I have created so far will change as I try to simplify nsibidi (most won't change). Apart from this, the following will probably no change.

Break down
'Market' - The character on the left (a straight line with a bar on top and on the bottom) is a very common nsibidi radical. Depending on the context it can mean anything from human to a pillar. In this context it is one of its other uses, this time a house. The character on the left is the old nsibidi sign for 'trade' probably used frequently in public. Together it is understood as 'trade house', 'market'.

'Entrance' - The top character is the old nsibidi for 'door', the bottom character is a woman or just a general person. The compound character (njíkọ) is understood as 'door of people', 'entrance'.

'Beauty' - The old characters for 'woman' (big left-facing curve) and 'mirror' together make 'beauty'.

'Chief' - Old character for a chief.

'Feather' - Old character for feather.

'House' - The straight line with bars can be a house in nsibidi writing, so can a square or an oval.

'Leopard' - From nsibidi motifs representing the leopard.

'Water' - From water depicted in nsibidi documents.

All derived from 20th century sources.

6 February 2011

Nsibiri conjunctions 2

Generally used question and path symbols in these. I will update later.

31 January 2011

Sources of the Nsibiri

This is a link to a source of Nsibiri.1 These early missionaries2 and surveyors went through a lot of years living with the "natives" to gain their trust enough for them to have the 'secrets' of Nsibidi revealed to them. There are over 300 Nsibidi recorded, although most of them are too decorative to be used in a daily logographic writing system.

Welcome to the new people who have supported this, I hope you will take a more active role now that these sources are released.

I will be creating more conjunctions in the near future, so don't think this is dead.

1 If this is your first time seeing this source wholly, it would be nice if you credit this blog when using it on another blog. Ùdo dírí únù.

2 Beware of evasive language when the Edwardian authors discuss sexual matters!


These aren't all the sources, but this is the most important one (contains most information, lots of Nsibidi, and covers Nsibidi from previous sources).

To download the file click 'View PDF' in the tool box on the top right of the page.