Visiting Madagascar – People and Culture

A rich handicraft

With lots of creativity, Malagasy artisans are able to transform locally-available materials: wood, fibers, metal, stone, leather, and horn. Even tins are recycled into model cars and sold on the market. The choice of handicrafts is large but four sectors are the most emblematic of Madagascar:

  • Zafimaniry carving art: classified as World Intangible Heritage, it has been discovered by the general public in the 1950’s when food shortage obliged the population to sell their sculptures and furniture on the market. Zafimaniry art is expressed in daily life objects (plates, spoons …), in house furniture (stools, sculpted panels) and also decoration (statuettes).

  • Antemoro paper: a sort of papyrus made from boiled, kneaded and then smoothed bark of a specific tree. The Antemoro paper was used by the Antemoro tribe for the “Sorabe”, which is Arab -Malagasy calligraphy. It is now used for cards, albums, tapestry and home decoration.

  • Malagasy wild silk: Wild silk or ‘Landibe” only exists in Madagascar as its worms only feed exclusively with an endemic plant, the tapia. The threads are worked from cocoons collected in nature and hand-woven. Its texture is rough and only vegetable dyes are used. Until recently, wild silk was only used for shrouds but now it has entered the world of fashion and home decoration: scarves, shoes, dresses, tablecloths…

  • Ampanihy Mohair carpets: for generations, the women of a small town in the Deep South called Ampanihy have woven wool from their angora sheep. With new techniques, it is possible to have high quality hand-knotted carpet. Patterns are inspired from the Mahafaly and Andandroy culture.