Can any of you identify the writing system or language in the following image?


This entry was posted in Language, Puzzles, Writing.

21 Responses to Puzzle

  1. Arakun says:

    Honestly, this looks a bit like Tolkien’s Tenwar to me. 🙂 It also makes me think of Arabic, or something related. The letter shapes look similar to Pahlavi and Avestan but the dots confuse me since these scripts don’t have those. So, could it be some exotic or historic form of Arabic?

  2. Dirk Bakker says:

    Some symbols look a bit like cursive Hebrew (http://www.ruthsjewishstamps.com/RJS_images/R828.gif) with vowel dots, only upside down. Some others remind me of the Palmyrene Aramaic script (http://www.aramnahrin.org/Photo/Aramean_Palmyra_4.jpg). There also seem to be symbols of a completely different kind, especially those at the lower part of the inscription. Also, the half-faded text at the top of the picture seems to be different. Puzzling for sure! Is there any information as to where this picture was taken?

  3. MBM says:

    All I can say with any amount of certainty is that it’s right-to-left.

  4. LB says:

    I highly doubt it is related to Hebrew or to Arabic. I’m a native Hebrew speaker and it looks nothing like cursive Hebrew to me (or to paleo-Hebrew script), even upside down. My Arabic is not nearly as good, but except for one letter, MAYBE, I don’t see a connection either

  5. BenC says:

    This reminds me of Tolkien´s tengwar too.

  6. Hillel Gershuni says:

    This Image sent by me.

    It’s not Hebrew nor Aramaic or Arabic. I asked an expert to these languages and he didn’t know what it is. One expert suggested that maybe the image is upside down.

    This page came from Morroco, that’s more or less all I know.

    I’d appreciate any help to solve this puzzle.

  7. Peter J. Franke says:

    Is it a “magic script” used by Moroccan marabout? It is not like the Tamazight or Tifinagh script, mainly used in the south for secret messages.

  8. Hillel Gershuni says:

    What I see now, that there’s a pattern that repeat itself over and over (reminds me a little the Hebrew word נופש). So it doesn’t seem like “real” language.

  9. Petréa Mitchell says:

    At first I scoffed at the comments above, but the more I look at it, the more I think it really *could* be the Tengwar, albeit in an unpracticed hand and totally missing spaces for some reason.

  10. LB says:

    Hillel – I see it now, nice – נופש, followed by נפש sometimes, but that looks like a coincidence, not intentionally based on or related to Hebrew.

  11. TJ says:

    Well, I can’t identify it for sure but I have some thoughts about it.
    Here in the oriental part of the Arab world, we know that magical practices are very common in the moroccan community (as well as the yemenite). Add to that, ther are jewish communities in Morocco as well, so it is not far away to suggest that it would be some sort of a cursive form of Hebrew (other than the cursive form already used in Israel).
    The other thing is, in such practices of magic, as far as I’ve seen and know, there are special type of scripts to be used, or as they called in Arabic “Aqlaam” (Aqlaam, plural of Qalam, meaning pens). Aqlaam can be thought of an equivalent word for “script” in modern sense (and probably was used commonly in the classical era of Arabic to mean “Script” as well). As far as I know, such writings using these “Aqlaam” were essential in such practices to communicate with Djinn (or demons or genies in the western sense).
    The third line from the bottom has some shapes that strongly remind me of some magical scripts that I saw in old books before.

  12. TJ says:

    why my comments don’t appear ?

    hehe should this happen to me every time I wana submit something ?

  13. Simon says:

    TJ – one or more of the words in your comments must have triggered the spam filters. If this happens again, there’s no need to submit the seem comment again, I just need to approve it.

  14. TJ says:

    LOL ok sorry 🙂

    I wonder what words are these!

  15. peter j. franke says:

    Yes, there is a relation between Yemen and Morocco in cultural aspects and traditions. I lived for over a year in Yemen and traveled all over Morocco. Especially in the Atlas and Trans-Atlas regions you can recognise Yemeni influences. This originates from the time of the spreading of islam. And with the arabs the jews settled in the Maghreb. So, since we know this paper is from Morocco, I have the impression we deal with a magic script with the aim to protect the house, or whatever is behind that wall, against evil.

  16. Wolfgang Kandagawa says:


  17. TJ says:

    I’d say the dotted letters do resemble some kind of an equivalent for dotted letters in Arabic.

  18. prase says:

    It’s interesting that the text in the lower part is visibly different from the upper part.

    To me, it seems like Hieratic or upside-down Gujarati.

  19. debaprasd says:

    I am not very much expert in comparative linguistics
    still I have an interest in neighbouring languages
    it is a real pleasure to see that so many persons around the world are splitting the hairs to crack a mysterious code,the dots resemble nukta in urdu and the patterns definitely repeat it must be a mantra kind of thing

  20. Aniruddha says:

    Hi…it does look somewhat like Tengwar…:D

    On a serious note, it quite seems like a middle-eastern script…an older version of Arabic is unlikely, because the “dots” (nuqta) in Arabic are supposed to have developed after the main “bodies” of the letters had come to be…is it any kind of religious text??

    Also, can’t help but notice how the text in the last three lines vary so markedly from the rest of piece…almost looks like being in a different script. The hypothesis that this is some sort of a secret knowledge / code / information, purposefully made inaccessible to the uninitiated does not seem out of place…

  21. b_jonas says:

    I agree with prase in that the shapes of the writing in the bottom three lines seem different from the rest. Could it be that those three lines contain numbers? Also note that there are some brown markings on the top of the image, I wonder what those are.

    I for one think the image is the right side up, because many of the symbols are aligned to the baseline at the bottom, but almost none are aligned to the top.

    The script definitely does not look like tengwa to me, but what it is I can’t guess.

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