Tunjur kingdom
1400s[1]c. 1650s
CapitalUri (early)[2]
Common languagesArabic
Traditional African religions, Islam
• Established
• Disestablished
c. 1650s
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Daju kingdom
Sultanate of Darfur
Wadai Empire
Today part ofChad

The Tunjur kingdom was a Sahelian precolonial kingdom in Africa between the 15th and early 17th centuries.[1][3][4]


Local chronicles claim that the founder of the Tunjur dynasty became a "king in the island of Sennar".[5] Origins of the Tunjur state are not well known.[6] It is known that the Tunjur kingdom replaced an earlier Daju kingdom, after the Tunjur people migrated from north to the Darfur region in the fifteenth century. Their migration represents a second known Berber migration to the region.[1][7] The states possibly coexisted for some time, with Tunjur rule in the north and Daju rule in the south, before the Tunjur people managed to replace the earlier dynasty completely.[1] The lands ruled by the Tunjur people are within contemporary Sudan, and their influence extended into Chad.[3]


The Tunjur were probably Arabized Berbers, and spoke the Arabic language. They claimed heritage from the tribe of Banu Hilal. However, they were initially entirely pagan after the migration had finished. No trace of their own language exists. All of the Tunjur oral tradition is attributed in an unusual manner to a single person called Shau Dorsid.[7]

Society in Darfur changed drastically due to the influence of the Tunjur dynasty. Corvée labor was organized for the newly-organized state, long-range trade began, and Islam was partially adopted as a religion.[7]

Tunjur architecture drew influence from Berber and Tora styles.[7] There is a stone mosque, the first Muslim building in Darfur, possibly built around the year 1200, at the city of Uri which was the first capital of the kingdom.[8][2] This may indicate that Islam was adopted as a court religion. The king however, probably, held a divine status. The city was built in Fur architecture.[8]

The role of Islam in the region ruled over by the Tunjur kingdom, and earlier the Daju dynasty, remained insignificant until the late 16th century. No material remains for Islamization are known from the preceding Daju dynasty's period.[8]

Tunjur dynasty

By the early 16th century the Tunjur kingdom ruled Darfur and Wadai. Capitals of the kingdom were in northern Darfur. The cities of Uri and Ain Farah are associated with the kingdom.[6][2] Uri, the early capital, was at the meeting point of two major trade routes.[2] It is certain that Egyptian merchants traded with the Tunjur people. Caravan routes and earlier river based routes through Nubia allowed long-distance trade. The kingdom exported slaves, gold, camels, rhinoceros horn, ivory, ostrich feathers, tamarind, gum arabic and natron. Trade was, according to Egyptian sources, under close royal control.[9] Unlike in the newly-islamized and briefly dynastically related Wadai Empire, it is unclear if the Tunjur kingdom was a Muslim state.[7][3][4][10] Slavery was common in the region, and the Tunjur also engaged in enslavement of other peoples.[11]

End of the dynasty

Central-East Africa after collapse of the Tunjur Kingdom. Lands ruled by the Tunjur dynasty were divided between states of Wadai and Darfur.

The Tunjur kingdom was succeeded by the Sultanate of Darfur (Keira Sultanate). The Fur people and their Keira dynasty superseded the Tunjur around the 1650s.[3][4] A story about a dynastic link between Keira and Tunjur dynasties involving Ahmad al-Maqur is known.[6] Tunjur rule in Wadai ended when a local dynasty of Maba people revolted, expelled and replaced them.[6] The Tunjur kingdom may have ceased to exist as early as in 1611 or 1635.[6]

A branch of the Tunjur dynasty in Wadai was also overthrown by an alliance of the Arabs and the Maba.[7]

Eventually, the Tunjur people assimilated to a large decree into other peoples of the region.[4]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d McGregor, Andrew James (2000). "The Stone Monuments and Antiquities of the Jebel Marra Region, Darfur, Sudan c.1000–1750 AD" (PDF). University of Toronto. 0-612-53819-2. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d John A. Shoup III (12 May 2017). The Nile: An Encyclopedia of Geography, History, and Culture. ABC-CLIO. p. 190. ISBN 978-1-4408-4041-8.
  3. ^ a b c d Muhammad al-Tunisi (8 May 2018). In Darfur: An Account of the Sultanate and Its People, Volume One. NYU Press. p. 9. ISBN 978-1-4798-4663-4.
  4. ^ a b c d James Stuart Olson (1996). The Peoples of Africa: An Ethnohistorical Dictionary. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 570. ISBN 978-0-313-27918-8.
  5. ^ P.M. Holt (28 October 2013). Studies in the History of the Near East. Routledge. p. 70. ISBN 978-1-136-27331-5.
  6. ^ a b c d e R.S. O'Fahey; J.L. Spaulding (4 October 2016). Kingdoms of the Sudan. Taylor & Francis. pp. 113–114. ISBN 978-1-315-45111-4.
  7. ^ a b c d e f A. McGregor (2011). "Palaces in the Mountains: An Introduction to the Archaeological Heritage of the Sultanate of Darfur". Sudan & Nubia. Sudan Archaeological Research Society (15): 132–136. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  8. ^ a b c Timothy Insoll; Professor of African and Islamic Archaeology Timothy Insoll (3 July 2003). The Archaeology of Islam in Sub-Saharan Africa. Cambridge University Press. p. 128. ISBN 978-0-521-65702-0.
  9. ^ David N. Edwards (29 July 2004). The Nubian Past: An Archaeology of the Sudan. Routledge. p. 266. ISBN 978-1-134-20087-0.
  10. ^ Willie F. Page (2001). Encyclopedia of African History and Culture: From conquest to colonization (1500-1850). Facts on File. p. 277. ISBN 978-0-8160-4472-6.
  11. ^ Sharon Barnes; Asma Mohamed Abdel Halim; Mohamed Ibrahim Nugud (20 August 2013). Slavery in the Sudan: History, Documents, and Commentary. Springer. pp. 51–52. ISBN 978-1-137-28603-1.

Further reading