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Madagascar News Forums The Transformation of Antananarivo Reply To: The Transformation of Antananarivo


During his brief stay on the east coast of Madagascar, Baron Daniel Lescallier traveled
21 to 28 August 1792, the area of ​​Foulpointe. A short stay, certainly, but very enriching for him, since it allows him to make various suggestions on the best means of “taking possession of the French islands and having some general ideas on the peoples of Madagascar”. Generally gentle and affable, confident of the French, “many of whom have abused without risk of this confidence”, the Malagasy race is very diversified, he writes in his memory: blacks with frizzy hair, red skin, coppery or almost as light That the mulattoes …
On the side of Fulpointe, “the natives” do not know how to write, but it specifies, in certain parts of the island, they know Arabic characters. “It was by the coasts of the North and the West, nearer the Comoros and Anjouan Islands, that a few colonies of Moors or Arabs had gone to Madagascar in ancient times. It is in this way that these same peoples, established on various points of the eastern coast of Africa, have emigrated to this island, and continue to trade there. “
Yet most Frenchmen who arrive to make a fortune, quickly if they can, treat the Malagasy lazily “because, limited in their desires and provided abundantly for all the needs of life, they do not put up an eagerness To satisfy the greed of the Europeans and their exclusive desire for a precipitous gain. ” But according to Lescallier, the Malagasy are very active and devote themselves to the raising of numerous herds and poultry, and to the cultivation of rice to ensure their subsistence. They even have enough surplus to attract ships from the island of France (Mauritius) that they supply.
Malagasy handicrafts are also developed. They make mats, bags, “satrocks” (satroka or hats), baskets, cloths “called rabanas”. They draw from a “kind of palm tree called raphia” a thread which they use in the manufacture, with art and finesse, very fine stuffs called pagnes, of various colors and stripes.
“Some of these cloths are comparable to silk by the brilliancy, the delicacy, and the vivacity of the colors, but the matter is not so supple and soft. These fabrics easily intersect. Lescallier points out that this work of women is done on weaving looms quite similar to those of French weavers, but their framework is lighter and it can fold on itself and put itself in one side of the hut. They also use plants to obtain “secret” colors.
The Malagasy also work with iron to have spears or spears, some of which are decorated with copper inlaid in the iron and forming on the plate regular drawings. “I have seen Madagasians mending their rifles and doing similar works.” They use a small anvil and a hammer, a little charcoal, and a very simple blower.
Some Malagasies work gold and silver with “the greatest dexterity” and obtain bracelets, gold and silver plates carved – these jewels serve as ornament on the front of women’s clothing – chains of Gold and silver worked with the utmost finesse “and which would not disdain to admit our chainsmen of Paris.
Other industries are seen inside the country, Lescallier points out, to make canvas and cotton blankets, large shawls or blue coats to dress chefs. They are adorned with a pewter embroidery as a braid or silver, “these heavy and massive embroideries not having the art of spinning silver and allying it with silk.” The men are clothed in a canvas girded in the middle of the body, and a large piece of cloth, usually of blue cotton cloth, wrapped around their bodies and shoulders. This kind of mantle called “simbo” also serves as a cover. They cover the head of an artistically woven cap with rush.
Their armament consists of a spear (or spear) and a rifle. They never go out or very rarely without their spears.
Women’s clothing is no more complicated than that of men: a white cotton canvas called “sadika” that they put around the waist and a “sembo” like that of men, a more sought-after cloth. This “sembo” serves them as cover men when they lie down. The women wear at last a sort of short shirt, which scarcely descends to the navel, and appears only made to cover the breast, but the older ones wear it longer.