The National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) is a research center for ethnology and cultural anthropology.

Zafimaniry Style: Life and Handicrafts in the Mist Forest of Madagascar

Exhibition Content

The tropical rain forests of Madagascar’s east coast are famous for lemurs and chameleons. As we hike into the interior, the elevation increases. As we pass 1000 meters, winds from the Indian Ocean meet a cold air mass. This is where the foggy Mist Forest grows.

Even more than those who live in tropical rain forests, the people who live here depend on the forest. The Zafimaniry are swidden cultivators who build what are, with rare exceptions, the largest (3 to 5 meters tall) wooden houses on Madagascar.

Most of the furnishings are also made of wood; the geometric carvings on the wooden window shutters, for example, are an exquisite example of the way in which wood carving penetrates every aspect of life. The woodcrafting knowledge transmitted in their life was designated a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage by UNESCO in 2003. Six years later it was added to UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage list.

This special exhibition is an opportunity to see through the medium of daily life and wood carvings how craft and tradition sustain a unique way of life. The year 2013 is also the 10th anniversary of the selection of this woodcrafting tradition for the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list. It thus provides an opportunity to reflect on the role of culture in global society.

Don't miss this extraordinary opportunity!