The crafts

That are common objects of everyday life, but also games, musical instruments or ornamental objects sacred or artistic, the Malagasy crafts is rich in natural materials… The ability to take advantage of the environment there has led to a multitude of objects with original forms and colors.

Today, the global phenomenon of return to nature and authentic materials puts Madagascar among the countries with high potential craft.

The paper « Antemoro »

Secular process invented by the first Arab migrants to transcribe the Koran, heavily damaged by the sea crossing during their migration and currently one of the florets of Malagasy craftsmanship, Antemoro paper was rediscovered at the beginning of the century by Pierre Matthew who had created a company in Ambalavao, still in operation. The paper is made from the pulp of a wild mulberry called Avoha, its scientific name “Bosqueia danguyana”, which grows throughout the forest corridor forming the eastern facade of Madagascar. Made entirely by hand and dried “by moonlight”, the paper is off-white color. Relatively thick and grainy, there are sometimes encrusted inside highly decorative dried flowers. Its use covers binding, stationery, envelopes, lampshades, upholstery.

The “Zafimaniry” art

The Zafimaniry expertise was included on the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2008. The Zafimaniry, subgroup of Betsileo, live in an area of forest, southeast of Ambositra. They make items they need in everyday life, furniture, utensils and their own houses with shutters and doors carved with geometric patterns that betray our highly codified only Indonesian Austronesian origin or of themselves Malagasy but also the influence of Arab culture that permeates the Malagasy culture.

Apart Antoetra the administrative capital (district), the Zafimaniry is only accessible by foot. To see the craftsmen at work, there are the inhabitants of Ambohimanjaka willing to show visitors how they work with wood. To get there, we take the Imerin’Imady road to the north of Ambositra then roll out on a track of about 40 km to get to the big town of Ambohimitombo. From there, we walk about 1:30 to get to Ambohimanjaka. In the rest of the country, zafimaniry only show the product of their work.

The tinplate objects

Tinsmith’s job unfortunately disappeared in Europe. Nevertheless in Madagascar, considering the local needs, the recycling and the processing are integrated into the economy. A pleiad of objects is made from sheet steels and cans: watering cans, tumblers, spouts, but also toys, models, which reproduce local bush taxi, jeep and other vehicles and motorcycles.

The village of Ambohikely, at Imerintsiatosika, about twenty kilometers on the West of Antananarivo, is specialized in the making of miniatures from recycled cans or cans of drinks (vehicles, bicycles, motorcycles, planes) which we find in the craft markets all around the country.

Musical instruments

Many traditional instruments are still used during festivals and ceremonies. They are made mainly from leather, wood and bamboo. Mention may be made for Valiha, string instrument consisting of a bamboo body and multiple strings stretched around the body.

“The Valiha is a variety of bamboo tube zither encountered throughout Madagascar” (Wikipedia). From Indonesian origin, it is also present among primitive peoples in the Philippines and Indochina. It is composed of a segment of bamboo (60 to 130 cm long) for both soundboard and resonator with a long longitudinal slot (hearing) between the undrilled end nodes. A modern variety, “the Valiha vata” fitted on a sounding board has become very popular.

Many models of drums, zithers and other flutes. The “djembe” of quality are manufactured locally by specialists in percussion.

The wickerwork

A multitude of everyday objects are made throughout the island from plant fibers such as raffia, rush, the Ravinala (traveller’s tree), the palms “Satrana” (palm Bismarckia nobilis) or coconut. Practical uses abound, among which include roof coverings, housing walls, hats, baskets, mats of all colors and shapes…


The subsoil of the Big Island contains precious stones (sapphire, ruby and emerald) and semi-precious stones (amethyst, citrine, garnet, tourmaline, aquamarine …) and their use remain largely traditional. Lapidary transform


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