The Antahkarana. Aboriginal tribes of Madagascar


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  • 1 Location
  • 2 History
  • 3 Society and economy
  • 4 Everyday life
  • 5 Source


Madagascar. Total population: 80,000 (SIL 1996) Language: Malay-Polynesian, Malagasy


The Antakarana, also known as “rock people” because of the terrain they inhabit, settled during the 12th century on the north-eastern coast of Madagascar. Magnificent fishermen, they inhabit the mountains of Madagascar .

These marine experts and fishermen use canoes that are replicas of the Indonesian ships that supposedly crossed the Indian Ocean around 1000 BC. The Indonesian influence is also appreciated in their language, which belongs to the Malay-Polynesian linguistic group, rather than African.

At the end of the 17th century the kingdom of Antankarana was established, a dynastic monarchy that would last for centuries, until in the 19th century it was dismembered by a Merina political leader who would win over half the population, although the other half continued to support the traditional regimen. Division that has continued, even after the independence of Madagascar.

Society and economy

Society, which bases its economy on fishing, agriculture and livestock, has endured the influence of this political situation. The western antahkarana accepted Islam, although maintaining some traditions of their own, while the eastern ones, who accepted the Merina authority, did not change their religious principles. Even with these differences, some ancient traditions are still practiced by the antankarana generality (such as the Sacred Lake of Antañavo ).

Daily life

The daily life of this town is full of taboos. Thus, for example, a girl cannot wash her brother’s clothes. The legs of the birds are the part destined for the father, while in other peoples, such as among the Merina, they are given to children.


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