If you are a fan or a follower of Rihanna’s, then you probably did not miss it when she was on the cover of the British Vogue of May 2020, with quite an unusual hairstyle. This hairstyle is actually from the Malagasy tribe, Betsimisaraka an ethnic group from the East of Madagascar. By now, if you googled “Betsimisaraka hairstyle”, the first image you would have seen is that of Rihanna.
Hairstyle in the Malagasy tradition was more than just fashion. It could translate several aspects of the person’s life: mourning, happiness, origin, tribe, social rank, age, marital status…. The Malagasy hairstyle is typically based on braids, and the way they were presented had different meanings depending on the customs and the tribes. During a big event, everyone has a specific hairstyle: boys, girls, men, women, young, elder…. Let’s look at some examples:
The Kisotry and the Kiambaramaina were for mourning: women do nothing with their hair; they just leave it the way it is. And a widow will have a Bango Tokana (one single braid in the back).
Betsileo women use the Kivony for ceremonies. Antandroy women have the Tsy Kidoko and the Dokodoko.
The Somala and the Rongo Mitrantrana are for festivities:
The Kibango, Kiteloanila, Kipetaka (Betsileo), and the Tanaivoho or Tana Ivoho (Merina) are for ordinary days. Tana Ivoho has nothing to do with Antananarivo aka Tana. “Tana” means hold and “ivoho” means back: hold in the back.
The Tsangàna and Tombokantsena are for wedding:
The Randra-madinika is for those who will take a long trip. It is also for children:
The Doboka vy, Tokovy, and Dokodoko are for big events, especially for a woman who is getting married:
For the Antadroy tribe (in the South), when a man has a comb on his head, it means that he is looking for a wife. Ladies…now you know 😊!
The Bango Anakova is for the children of the royal family in the Betsileo tribe and the Kipetaka is for Betsileo princesses.
If you are interested in trying some Malagasy braids, check this out. We say it’s not complicated but…sophisticated. Good luck and show us your results!!!!!