roughly rectangular shape, with inward-arcing bottom edge; arc-shaped "handle" at top, covered in twisted leather (?); one side decorated with text and diamond designs in black and red; other side decorated with diamonds and stylized birds and patterns in black and red with black text

Writing board, second half of 20th century

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This board with colorful representations of stylized animals in combination with words, numbers, and geometric shapes, is called allo kafi gida. This term in the Nigerian Hausa language means “home protection board.” Custom-made by a specialized Muslim cleric-artist, the board is kept hidden by the head of the family as a talisman—an object held to act as a charm to avert evil and bring good fortune—that protects him and his family. The iconography of these protective boards draws elements from the Qur’an, Sufi mysticism, and Hausa animal symbolism. This particular board shows birds, and possibly a lizard.

SIDE A:
Al-Hagh / Muhammad / God.
Say, “He is God the One, God the eternal. He begot no one nor was He begotten. No one is comparable to Him.”
There is no power but from God the Almighty.
God is kind to His servants.

SIDE B:
God is the Light of the heavens and the earth.
God is all-attentive to His servants. He provides for whomever He wishes.
There is no power but from God the Almighty.
God, Muhammad.

Details
Title
Writing board
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2014.44.2
Curator Approved

This record has been reviewed by our curatorial staff but may be incomplete. These records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@artsmia.org.

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roughly rectangular shape, with inward-arcing bottom edge; arc-shaped "handle" at top, covered in twisted leather (?); one side decorated with text and diamond designs in black and red; other side decorated with diamonds and stylized birds and patterns in black and red with black text