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As is customary, burial arouses numerous writings of travelers. Thus Dubois relates in his “Journeys to the Isles of Dauphin or Madagascar, Bourbon or Mascarenne the years 1669-72,” that when rich people die in the southern provinces, relatives, friends and neighbors rush to cry, ask for the causes of his Death … Cries “lugubres” accompany these questions. “Dances, odd postures, grimaces, and immoderate laughter soon follow. This lasts several days, “during which the blood of the beasts sacrificed at the expense of the dead flows with great floods.”
It is then carried to the tomb, called “tranobelity”, the “house of the devil”, a hut built in framework. A part of his property is buried with him, and no one dares to steal them, for he risks the penalty of death if he is taken. Besides, even in times of wars if all is plundered, no one dares touch the tombs.
The funeral proper also lasts for some time during which “it is used for
Eat, but the dishes are raw and we carry at the same time what it takes to cook them so that it prepares them to his fancy “. When the body is placed in the tomb, a calf is brought to the entrance to be sacrificed. “We share the deceased and the rest is shared in the assembly. His remains (of the calf) are attached to stakes placed outside the tomb. “
According to Dubois, the Southern Malagasy people all believe that after their death they will be resurrected and come back to lead a life similar to those they have just left. That is why, during their lifetime, they hide their possessions in gold and silver, believing that they will find them when they are resurrected, otherwise “they would be slaves upon their return to life.”
Another author, anonymous, confirms this narrative. “These people have much veneration for the dead. As soon as one of them has ceased to live, the event is announced by lugubrious songs. Mourners make the air sound with their cries, the virtues of the dead are exalted. After several days of feasting, the body of the deceased is enclosed in a beer or exposed on an eminence or a large stone. At the end of a year, the family “will collect the bones” and put them in the tomb which contains those of the deceased former parents.
The author says that when a great chief dies, his body is hidden from the people. They organize a simulacrum for the ceremony that lasts eight days and the people must provide a large number of oxen to sacrifice and share to all the assistants. “The same is done with regard to the children of the great chiefs who die. “
Dealing with the same subject, Étienne de Flacourt adds some peculiarities. “The nearest relatives of the dead wash the body, the parent of shackles, earrings, gold necklace and other jewels, bury it with two or three up to seven of the most beautiful . They then envelop him with a great mat when they carry him to the tomb. There he is confined in a coffin formed by two trunks of hollowed and joined trees.
They place him in the tomb-house made of carpentry-and place near him a basket, a tobacco box, a bowl of earth, a small burner of earth to burn the perfume, loincloths and belts. Then they close it and begin to sacrifice zebus in honor of the deceased leader, whose devil is given first, then to God, and finally to the dead. For eight or fifteen days, the parents continue to renew the provisions of the dead man and never cease to recommend himself to him as if he were alive. “
In difficult circumstances, his children come back to sacrifice oxen and seek advice from the deceased. The most solemn oaths are then made “upon the souls of the ancestors.”
Finally, if they fall sick and delirious, “they send their doctor to the cemetery
The spirit they have lost. This charlatan makes a hole in the house (tomb) by calling the soul of the father of the sick and asking him to return his mind to his child who has no more. He opens a bonnet in front of the hole to receive the present, and not doubting that he has obtained it, he encloses the cap carefully and shortly to give the spirit to the patient who does not fail to say that they are relieved “.