The Timbuktu Manuscripts

Discover a trove of Timbuktu's ancient manuscripts

In collaboration with

SAVAMA-DCI
"In the dark night of our present existence, manuscripts are the searchlights that probe our past."Dr. Abdel Kader Haidara, founder of SAVAMA-DCI

Explore a Universe of Verse

Take a closer look at more than 40,000 pages

"It’s been said that all the history of Africa is oral. We have more than 400,000 manuscripts here written uniquely by the hands of the hands of Africans. It’s a true Renaissance."Dr. Abdel Kader Haidara, founder of SAVAMA-DCI

Calligraphy

The different types of calligraphy found in the Timbuktu manuscripts are Suūdᾱnī, Sahrᾱwī, Sūqī, Maghribī, and Sharqī. Book art reached its peak in the 16th century, in the Middle East, Persia, and West Africa.

Comments and Corrections

The manuscripts contain very few crossings-out as professional copyists were subject to rules that had to be respected to make the text readable. Copyists instead used symbols, here in red, to indicate changes, doubts or variations in the lines of text.

What makes a Timbuktu manuscript?

Take a closer look

View All

Spot the details, page by page

Click to zoom in on damage, decoration, stamps, comments and more

Learn the tricks of the trade
Which material was NOT used to write Timbuktu's manuscripts upon?
Textiles

Illustrated insight

A selection for the visual reader

Discover more of the Magic of Mali

Discover more Mali magic

The great legacy of Mali and the people’s quest to preserve it