Sunday, October 10, 2010

Tribes: Merina

Madagascar is an island and it has its own population, its own
language and its own cultures. This island is formed by eighteen
tribes which are different from each other. Each tribe possesses
their own way of life, some cultural rituals which make each tribe
unique. The Merina tribe is among the Malagasy tribes. To learn more
about this tribe, it is better to locate the tribe and the history of
it. So let's talk about the way of life of the Merina tribe and then
some cultural information and rituals specific to the Merina tribe.

The Merina tribe is among the two highland tribes in Madagascar. It
is located in the region of Tananarive. It is limited in the North by
the district of Ankazobe, in the south by the district of Antsirabe,
in the west by the district of Itasy, and in the east by
Manjakandriana. The Merina tribe is the largest tribe in Madagascar
and the people in it s area more closely resemble Indonesians people
with more fair skin and smooth long hair. Concerning the history,
"Vazimba" people were the first population living in the area. And
then came some migration and the Merina tribe was divided in different
sections or kingdoms lead by a king or queen. Some kinds and queens
are famous such as Andrianampoinimerina, Radama, Ranavalona, etc. And
some of them have tried to conquer some territories outside of Merina
territory.
To know a little more about the Merina way of life we can explore food
and clothing.

As all Malagasy people, rice is the main dish of the Merina people.
But many types of vegetables and fruits are found in abundance.
Merina people have specific ways of cooking rice which is "Vary
amin'anana" the rice is cooked with green leaves. It is very
delicious if it is eaten with "kitoza". Some ancient recipes make
their tribe famous, for example the "varanga" which is beef meat
cooked in a pot made by earthenware and conserved for a year. For
their clothes, the "lamba" is emblematic clothes for Malagasy
people—it is a piece of clothe which is used to cover most of the
body. For Merina people, women wear the Lamba made of silk and they
put it around their shoulders. For men, "malabary" is the most common
way of dressing.
Culture of the Merina tribe is based on respect of ancestors. Before
all acts, they first give honor to their ancestors and elders. Many
rituals differentiate Merina people from others.

For example, the way they celebrate marriage. They follow these steps:

1. "tampi-maso" which shows respect for the brides brothers
2. "Fisehoana" to make known the relationship between a girl and a boy
3. "Vodiondry" to honor the bride's parents

And the ancestor worship has an important place for Merina people; it
is expressed in a corpse turnaround. This ritual is done by offspring
several years after the death. The offspring will cover their
ancestor's corpse with new shrouds. A big festivity is done with
"toaka gasy" a home brewed alcohol. After doing it, the descendants
will hope to be blessed by their ancestor's spirits. Merina people
have their fady (taboo) and as an illustration, people should not work
on Tuesday.

As a conclusion, Malagasy people are divided into many tribal groups.
Each tribe has their cultures and their beliefs. We can see it
through the information concerning each tribe. In spite of all of
these differences, Malagasy people are still one. As our motto says,
"Unity Inside Diversity>"

6 comments:

Zoe Schlittke said...

Very helpful post! Thanks!
:)

Tim Cole Soundart said...

Hi , thank you for your article, it was very useful for me. Soon I will be visiting Madagascar, with the goal of meeting Malagasy musicians to share with them music I have recorded with musicians who share the malagasy/ Austronesian heritage in other country's, Taiwan, Indonesia, And pacific nations. If you are interested I would like to visit your school and share my trips to other communities. I will be in Madagascar during May this year 2016. Here is my project www.smallislandbigsong.com. Thank you. Tim cole. tim@smallislandbigsong.com

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Feng said...

It was very helpful, thanks.
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