2012. július 23., hétfő

Zafimaniry falu, Madagaszkár

2064. oldal


3 VII 5 m Zafimaniry (Madagascar, c)
Ihe Zafimaniry country (about 700 sq km [275 sq mi]) stretches along the top of the eastern escarpment of Madagascar, eastof Ambositra, 200 km (125 mi) to the south-southeast of Antananarivo Its altitude (1000-1700 m [5300-5600 ft]). Its coolness, the unusually deep and narrow valleys, the thick vegetation of the forest, the almost perpetual mists and heavy rainfalls (2000-3000 mm (80-120 in] in 250 days of the year) caused by the southeast trade winds, make it a rugged region which provides excellent shelter against enemies Lven today, the only way to go to the area is to walk along difficult paths connecting the g6 villages whose total population amounts to approximatel) 25 000 I he scenic grandeur of the region and the beauty of the villages and houses are most striking
Coming from the highlands, the Zafimaniry sought shelter, in the late i8th century, in a wooded area where access was rather difficult En|oying the protection of the forest, they have retained much of their original civilization in the region the) now occupv, forest regrowth is easier on a new, younger soil, under a damper climate, a fairly steady number of Zafimaniry have been able up to now to grow maize and beans on the tauy (land used for swidden agriculture)
1 he Zafimaniry house is one of the finest traditional houses in Madagascar and is the last surviving neo-Indonesian housetype on the island Consisting of 5-70 houses, the villages usually stand proudly m a defensive position on top of steep hills As building techniques require flat surfaces, the summits have been levelled and widened before being occupied The houses are invariably set in a north-south direction, as is generally the case in Madagascar I hey are arranged in long tiers reminiscent of the longhouse of southeast Asia. The house is a low-lying, entirely vegetal construction, with carefully fitted, usually carved, elements It IS comparatively large, considering it is used exclusively by the inner family (averaging4 mx 5 m [13 fix 16 ft]) It is capped by a roof made of long flattened bamboo stalks Ihere are eight openings Ihe massive door and shutters are ornamented with

geometrical motifs which, though of no certain origin, are indisputably very close to Indonesian art 1 his house, although heavy, can be - and is - very easily taken to pieces and transported
1 he only room of the house is divided into two distinct parts to the south is the 'non-noble' part containing the hearth, the kitchen, a hen-coop, occasionally a bed, and the notched ladder giving access to the garret, to the north is the 'noble' part, where one can receive guests In the centre stands a pillar, a basic element both in the structure of the house, and in the residents' symbolic system of reference.
The house is particularlywelladapted to the climate (wood is very good insulating material) and to the forest environment Any modification of these conditions inevitably results in a modification of the house itself The most obvious one is the disappearance of the forest Yet this degradation of the forest has a different origin the demographic upheaval in Zafimaniry country The peasants have enlarged their tauy, and accelerated the rhythm of crop rotation I he search for food and the attendant need for money are encouraging the Zafimaniry to sell the wood which used to go into housebuilding
Ihe housing problem is being met by individual solutions, such as the search for fresh sources of money (e g through the sale of sculptures to tourists) I he rich - for a distinction must now be made between rich and poor- have tin-roofed houses Thus we are observing the process by which a people, the last witnesses of the highlands' past, are losing their identity The house bears vivid testimony to the damage suffered the wooded country can already be regarded as a fossil
Nothing but a radical transformation (already begun in a few villages), such as the change from itinerant swidden agriculture to permanent agriculture, will enable this society to overcome the trauma inflicted bv a booming population


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