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Have you ever heard about the “Tamboho gasy” (Malagasy fence)?

If you go out of Antananarivo, you may notice “empty” pieces of land (no construction, no farming) surrounded  by brown walls. These walls are the “tamboho gasy”. The new generation people, Malagasy and foreigners, are always amazed seeing these walls knowing that they were made more than a hundred years ago.

Like any other kids, in my childhood, I used to ask a lot of questions on how, why… things were made. I remember, one day, I was in the garden with my father and  my  eyes were attracted by one side of our fence which was different from the other walls. Then, I started to ask questions. My father explained that it was a “tambohon’ny Ntaolo” (Malagasy Ancestors’ fence) and it was made with soil, water and cow dung. I found it disgusting to use cow dung. I imagined people taking it with their hands and mixing it with the soil. “Yuk!”, I said. But my father explained that we Malagasy people should be proud of these walls because they are really hard and can stand for years and years.

I love my father. When we, his children, were interested in knowing things like this, he always managed to show us more. Like one day, my sister and I were astonished seeing well polished pebbles, he brought us to a riverside and showed where he had collected them. Coming back to our topic, the sunday after I asked questions about “Tamboho gasy”, he brought us to the Queen Palace of Ambohimanga. Wow, there was this high fence! Then, my father explained that there was one more ingredient for this wall. They added eggs to the soil, water and cow dung to make it harder. [I’ll add the pic of this wall as soon as I will get there 🙂 ]

Few weeks ago, I went hiking in Ambohitrabiby and we also saw these Malagasy fences. And guess what? The guide added two more things as “secret” ingredients. Can we believe it or not? I do not know. He said some people also added crushed beef and some other put urine in the mixture.

I heard that some researchers are working on finding the secrets of “Tamboho gasy”. We already have the lists of the ingredients but until now, no one knows their quantity nor the process. Well, someday we will know “how it is exactly made!” 😀

For now, enjoy the pics 🙂

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The traditional Malagasy fence is composed of horizontal rows. They are of odd numbers; usually three, five or seven.

One more thing to add. A friend asked the following questions on my Facebook page: “I would love to know why they are built. Are they keeping people away from ancestor’s land, so no one goes there? Do you know?” I think, I should put the answer here too. Well, I heard that the square fences were built to protect little neighborhoods and the circle ones were for the cattle in the ancient time. The neighborhoods disappeared but  there are important parts of land which are not taken “yet” nowadays because they are in remote areas.

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Saturday, June 5, I went hiking in Ambohitrabiby. Before going up to the Palace, we visited a family who works on producing silk. A man had explained the process of silk production. I really loved it because it was the first time for me I could see how it works.

They place the silkworm moths to lay eggs on a paper. After about 10 days, when the eggs hatch, they cut mulberry leaves into little pieces to feed the larvae. A month after hatching, the silkworms stop eating and spin their cocoons. Some cocoons will be kept to allow them complete their  life cylcle for the silkworm to lay eggs again and ensure continuation of the species. The other cocoons will be used for the silk production.

The cocoons are poured into a big pot of boiling water for 10 to 15 min. to dissolve the gummy substance that holds the cocoon filament in place. This will make the filaments of some cocoons join. These filaments are then ready for reeling.

I noticed that their methods were simple and the machines they used were old and traditional ones. But the silk they made was just… NICE. It was quite expensive; one meter of silk costs 50,000 MGA.  Imagine how much my sis in law would spend for the  tablecloth she wanted to order! Anyway, I think it is normal if you could see the thousands of cocoons they used to make it.

the silkworm moth

I’m so sorry for the delay. I’ve been so busy lately. In fact, a new year has started on March 16 for Malagasy people.

I have to admit that I don’t know much about Malagasy culture. And thanks to blogging, I’m interested in knowing more about Malagasy culture and customs now.

Youngsters are fascinated to the ‘new culture’ that western countries are bringing. But this is not the only reason. Also, we lack books and documentation about our own history, culture and traditions. And the school programs don’t deal much on them.

When I wished ‘Happy New Year’ to my peers, they thought I was crazy. Some knew about the celebration in Andohalo or in Ambohimanga but they were not willing to attend them.

As I knew nothing about how Malagasy people celebrate the New year’s eve ‘traditionnally’, some friends and I went up in Andohalo. The pics below will show you more what we have lived up there.

The ceremony started at 8 p.m. with a short ‘kabary’ (speech). Then, the organizers lit the fire which is called ‘Afo tsy maty’ cuz the fire won’t go out till the morning. A guy lit a candle from the fire and shared it to one of the young guys who were lined up in a big ‘fanorona’ (Malagasy chess). Turn by turn they went and lit the candles on the fanorona. When all the candles were lit, all these young people went and lit the candles of the ‘arendrina’ (lanterns) that the public had brought.  This “fire  sharing’ is called ‘mizara hafanana’ (sharing heat) or “mizara hazavana’ (sharing light). (I wish I brought my lantern 😦 )

The kids with their lanterns were invited to make a big line and follow a troup of youngsters to make a tour of the neighborhood. Wow, it was so nice to see happiness in these kids face. It was nicer to see all the lanterns shining the dark night.

‘Angano’ (tales) and games were prepared for all these kids as well. Mmmh the tale of ‘I Faramalemy sy i Kotobekibo’ made me remember my childhood. Then, it was time for everyone kids and adults to dance and to clap during the different shows of ‘Hira gasy’, ‘Vakodrazana’ (typicall Malagasy song and rythm). It had rained but none cared. They kept on appreciating the ceremony. Yet some of the organizers managed to keep the fire on 🙂

Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay long cuz we would have to work the next day which is a very sad thing for me. Why do we work on such day? I hope that in future, the government will work on it and all Malagasy people will celebrate it together as it should be.

The ceremony was organized by Mamelomaso and Ortana.

This link may interest you, texts in French talking about Malagasy calendar.  – Le Calendrier malgache -ASARAMANITRA – NOUVEL AN MALGACHE

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