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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Nigerian Qur'anic manuscript project: retrieving a unique resource on the Kanuri language and culture
Author:Bondarev, DmitryISNI
Periodical:African Research and Documentation
Geographic terms:Nigeria
Northern Nigeria
Subjects:Bornu polity
Kanuri language
Kanembu language
Abstract:Notwithstanding the existence of a long written tradition, few manuscripts in Arabic and Kanuri from the Kanem-Borno empire, northern Nigeria, have survived. The obliteration and scattering of the documents produced during the Sayfawa dynasty means that knowledge of the Arabic writing tradition used by scholars in Borno before the 19th century is lacking. The SOAS collection of Koranic manuscripts helps fill this historical lacuna. The SOAS manuscripts have a special status compared with other collections of Kanuri written in Arabic script, notably the Richardson Collection in the UK National Archives, the Arabic manuscripts collection in the Leeds University Library, the Hunwick Collections at Northwestern University in the United States, and a 17th-century Koranic manuscript held at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris. The SOAS collection contains photographic copies of 16th to 18th-century Koranic manuscripts with extensive glosses in archaic Kanembu (the language of Kanem, being the archaic variant of Kanuri) and commentaries ('tafsir') in Arabic. The four different manuscripts were donated to the Special Collections of the SOAS Library in February 2003 by Professor A.D.H. Bivar. Analysis of the manuscripts yields insights into archaic Kanembu, and the development of Islamic and Koranic studies in Kanem-Borno. Bibliogr., notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]