Barea of Madagascar

Barea of Madagascar, the meaning of the name.

For those who don’t know, Barea refers to Zebu. A type of zebu that has a long history in Madagascar. Thanks to a great curator of Malagasy culture (Abraham Ralainony Ramboasalamarazaka) who shared, I had the chance to collect some information about this zebu Barea.


  • The zebu called “ombimanga
  • Rasoalao is the owner of Barea
  • Discover what the zebu symbolizes for the Malagasy.

The Zebu known as “Ombimanga”

It can also be called baria or bare. It is a majestic race of zebus of an astonishing strength which lived formerly in the region of Bongolava. Indeed, the Bare hid in this area, because it was a quiet zone. The Barea, known as Ombimanga, is a type of buffalo with long horns and a very large body mass.

Some characteristics are unique to the zebu of Madagascar, including longer horns. Historically, immigrants introduced the zebu to Africa. The evolution over time has changed the appearance of these animals. Thus, a zebu with a huge body and long horns, defined the name barea (baré in Malagasy)

Rasoalao is the owner of Barea

Wife of Rapeto, Rasoalao is part of the ancestors of the Malagasy. On the high land of Madagascar, lived all his “ombimanaga”. As these bovids had very robust mufles, it happens that hunting them is very difficult. It was Rasoalao who gave permission to the people to hunt the barea.
In the process of extinction, Barea is currently a wild zebu very reserved and sign of fortune.

It is also said that to fight against the dahalo, it is important to have these zebus. The Barea do not fear the dahalo (zebu thieves) and also that these zebus are distinguished from others by their particular ability to progress in water, even at a certain depth.

What does the zebu symbolize for the Malagasy, as well as its utility for them?

Zebu head used to honor the dead

For the Malagasy, the zebu constitutes a sacred animal. Rituals and offerings called “Le Joro” (a kind of invocation of the spirits of the ancestors) require the zebu, and is often used in religious and traditional ceremonies to honor ancestors and deities.

The barea refers to power and might. Being the strongest and the most grandiose race for the Malagasy, it evokes power, wealth. In short, it resists all obstacles. This is the origin of the name “Barea”. It means sign of strength, justifying the words “ilay manoto” (the one who gores). The zebus represent a great wealth for the Malagasy.

The zebu is also a source of food and animal traction for the people of Madagascar in rural areas. It is used to pull carts, plow fields and transport goods over long distances.

In summary, the zebu is a key element of the culture and economy in Madagascar, and is considered an important symbol of wealth, status and tradition.

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