Nsibidi Wiki
Nsibidi character.png
A symbol simply described as "Nsibidi name written" by Elphinstone Dayrell in 1911.


Ideographic with pictographic and perhaps logographic elements


Ekoid, Efik/Ibibio, Igbo


over 620 years old

Child systems

anaforuana (Cuba), veve (Haiti)

Nsibidi (also known as nsibiri, nchibiddi or nchibiddy) is an ancient writing system indigenous to what is now southeastern Nigeria that is apparently ideographic, though there have been suggestions that it includes logographic elements. The symbols are at least several centuries old: Early forms appeared on excavated pottery from the Calabar region dating between 400 and 1400 CE.

Nsibidi's origin is generally attributed to the Ekoi people of southern Nigeria. There are thousands of nsibidi symbols, of which over 500 have been recorded. It is primarily used by the Ekpe leopard secret society (also known as Ngbe or Egbo), which is found across Cross River among the Ekoi, Efik, Igbo people, and related peoples. They were once taught in a school to children, but aspects of colonisation such as Western education and Christian doctrine drastically reduced the number of nsibidi-literate people, leaving the secret society members as some of the last literate in the symbols. Nsibidi was and is still a means of transmitting Ekpe symbolism.

Nsibidi was transported to Cuba and Haiti via the Atlantic slave trade, where it developed into the anaforuana and veve symbols.