The Zafimaniry village: A hidden treasure in the Malagasy highlands

Located in the Betsileo region, about 260 km from the capital Antananarivo, the Zafimaniry village is a true hidden gem of Madagascar. Known for their exceptional talent in wood carving, the Zafimaniry have managed to preserve their culture and ancestral know-how despite the challenges of deforestation and recent economic changes.

Although the Zafimaniry are generally described as a subgroup of the Betsileo ethnic groups, they do not consider themselves either Betsileo or Tanala, a land-locked people. They are a community in their own right, whose way of life is permeated by woodworking. Historically, all these Zafimaniry communities were peasant carpenters, but deforestation has recently pushed them to turn to other economic activities, such as handicrafts, allowing them to value their traditions, their culture, and their know-how.

The Zafimaniry, a people proud of their heritage:

The village owes its name to the Zafimaniry people, an ethnic group known for their traditional crafts and architecture. The village is one of hundreds of villages and hamlets scattered throughout the remote, forested region of southeastern Madagascar, where some 25,000 Zafimaniry people still live today. Established in the 18th century, they are primarily maize and bean farmers, and practice slash-and-burn agriculture. However, their woodworking skills were recognized by UNESCO in 2003 and inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2008. The Zafimaniry are proud of their heritage and their way of life in harmony with nature. They have preserved their traditions and culture despite the pressures of modernity.

Their crafts are famous throughout the region. They are even internationally renowned for their woodworking, especially woodcarving, basketry and pottery. The objects they make are of great quality and finesse, testifying to the know-how passed down from generation to generation.

Traditional Zafimaniry architecture:

The traditional Zafimaniry architecture is also remarkable. The houses are built out of wood, without any nail or screw, according to an ancestral technique which consists in imbricating the pieces of wood the ones in the others. This technique is called “tavoalana”. The roofs are made of raffia leaves, a plant that grows in abundance in the region. The houses are decorated with complex geometrical patterns, which testify to the creativity and ingenuity of the Zafimaniry.

The Zafimaniry village: an immersive experience:

Zafimaniry Village offers an immersive experience for visitors who wish to learn about the culture and traditions of the Zafimaniry people. The villagers are warm and welcoming, and are happy to share their way of life with visitors.

A visit to the village allows you to discover the traditional houses, local handicrafts, and the natural beauty of the area. Visitors can also participate in activities such as fruit picking and preparation of traditional dishes. You can stay for a short stay of 2 to 3 days, or make a short visit of half a day or a day depending on your preference. The Vivy Travel Madagascar team can organize private excursions to discover this beautiful village preserved from the urban world.

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