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Wooden Qur'anic Writing Board Allo

Wooden Qur'anic Writing Board Allo

Regular price €245,00
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Hausa people, late 19th century to early 20th century, Nigeria, West Africa.

Absolutely charming writing board, known as allo (from the Arabic, al-lawh, tablet) is probably from the Hausa people of Nigeria, West Africa. The Hausas have interacted with the Islamic world since the 15th century and were one of the first groups in West Africa to convert to Islam. A light wooden panel cut into a rectangular in shape with a rounded end on top, inscribed in brownish black ink with verses from the Qur'an in Arabic. The boards are most often used by young students to practice writing down quotations from the Qur’an. Once a verse was memorized, the board was washed off with water for reuse. Faint traces of previously inked words are still visible on this fine example. Although reading and writing is the main purpose for Qur’anic boards, in some parts of Islamic Africa they are also used by Muslim ritual practioners, who write specific words, magical squares and diagrams on them, wash off the texts and then collect the diluted ink. It is believed that the words themselves hold mystical properties. The water is given to the sick to drink as holy medicine. This liquid was treated with great reverence, for it was believed to contain the words of God.

Excellent condition. Age-related wear and abrasion. Minor chips to wood. Smudging and fading to inked script. Size approx. 36,0 x 16,0cm x 1,2cm.

Provenance: Dutch private collection

For a similar examples see:

Qur'anic writing board, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Accession Number: 2016.71.2 (

Writing-tablet; qur'an-board, The British Museum, Accession number: 2011,6037.1 (

Allo (Qur'an Board), Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Accession number: 2002.2 (

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