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Journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies / Revue de l'Association Internationale de Sémiotique

Editor-in-Chief: Danesi, Marcel

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Volume 2010, Issue 182


In the name of the sign: The nsibidi script as the language and literature of the crossroads

Maik Nwosu
Published Online: 2010-11-04 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/semi.2010.061


The study of nsibidi, one of Africa's native writing systems, has mainly taken two routes — the taxonomic, which is concerned with the classification of nsibidi signs, and the genealogical, which attempts to resolve the question of where and how nsibidi originated. This essay undertakes a semiotic and literary analysis of nsibidi as an influential language of the crossroads. In modern Nigerian literature, for instance, the poetics of “nsibidi” may be said to include a weighty concern with cosmologies or trajectories of origin and the representation or renewal of an existential drama rooted in a myth of the crossroads.

Keywords:: nsibidi; Ekpe masquerade cult; the traveling sign; oral performance; modern Nigerian visual arts; modern Nigerian literature

About the article

Published Online: 2010-11-04

Published in Print: 2010-10-01

Citation Information: Semiotica, Volume 2010, Issue 182, Pages 285–303, ISSN (Online) 1613-3692, ISSN (Print) 0037-1998, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/semi.2010.061.

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