What do you think of when you think of the Malagasy traditional style? For us, delicate silk shawls come to mind. Our contributor Vero Hanitra tells of the history and symbolism of the Malagasy traditional wear.
Apart from its exterior beauty, the Lamba Landy goes along with the Malagasy tradition and has two different meanings: it is called “Lamba Landy” for the living people and “Lambamena" for the deceased. Malagasy people have long harnessed the power ofthe silkworm-made fabric for traditional or modern ceremonies. It is also used to cover the deceased and to re-wrap the ancestors during the exhumation, a traditional event.
This word “Lambamena” may have been given due to the color of the fabric that changes into a red-brownish color over time.
Lamba Landy may have other colors like yellow or brown or white even if the red one is generally considered to be the best.
Many Malagasy proverbs were taken from “Landy”: “Saro-tiavina toa Landy mohaka” to tell about the character of someone that is not able to appreciate any care he receives from others.
"Ny fihavanana toy ny landy, velona itafiana, maty ifonosana ka izay madilana arahi-panondro", is said to talk about something you keep with you for good or bad days and that you have to take good care of.
From the silkworm raising to the fabric manufacturing, Malagasy artisans respect the tradition and the traditional hand-made process past down from decades. The quality is far superior and that’s why it will last for over 30 years.
In the Malagasy culture, the Lambamena is a witness of the love from one’s family and relatives. The more Lambamena the dead has, the more respected he is. Often, the first cloth that covers the dead is the one offered by his children. This Lamba Landy is called «lamba manolo-koditra» meaning the one that is in direct contact with the skin. Then come those offered by family and relatives and last comes the one offered by the spouse, it is a witness of his love.
Lamba Landy was considered as a witness of wealth which only the Noble or Andriana could afford it. It is also worn to distinguish the “Mpikabary” or people who are chosen to be the orator during traditional events. The red-colored ones were the most expensive and considered to be the best.
Present day, the Lamba Landy has a different value since it has become a new stylish tissue. Malagasy stylists use it to distinguish themselves from others and it is used to manufacture dresses, bags, suits and even for home decorations.
We hope that anyone who sees dresses or textiles made with Landy will immediately think of Madagascar.