Collection Description

Brief Culture Description

Culture Name


Culture Description

The Tanala (also called Antanala) are a Malagasy speaking people living in southeastern Madagascar, an island country located off the eastern coast of southern Africa. They grow rice, supplemented with other crops. The basic unit of Tanala society is the extended family. This unit grows into a residential patrilineage as married sons in each generation build their house close to that of their fathers. Closely related lineages show political alliance and solidarity by maintaining common tombs and in some cases loyalty to clans and paramount chiefs.


Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.


Africa --Southern Africa



OWC Code


Collection Information

Number of Documents


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Number of Pages


Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in eHRAF World Cultures and are referenced by author, date of publication and eHRAF document number.

In addition to this culture summary, the Tanala Collection (FY08) consists of only one book authored by Ralph Linton based on few months of intensive field work conducted in 1926-1927. This book provides first hand account of Tanala culture and society including ethnic relations, economy, social organization, government, religion, warfare, amusement, art, life cycle, folklore, and a brief history of tribal wars. The book was meant to be an extension of the author previous works on several cultures in Australia, reflecting his interests in contributing to some theories in anthropology and linguistic which consider the Malagasy people as an outreach of several Polynesian and Malayan cultures and languages.

The information in this collection needs to be updated with cultural and historical information documenting changes that might have occurred in Tanala from 1927 (the year Linton lived Madagascar) to the present (2007).

Overview by

Teferi Adem

Collection Indexing Notes

Andriambavety - a village chief - use "COMMUNITY HEADS (622)"

Fady - prohibition - use "AVOIDANCE AND TABOO (784)"

Fokonolona - village council - use "COUNCILS (623)" with "COMMUNITY STRUCTURE (621)"

Hova - a social class representing nobles in Tanala Ikongo and commoners among Tanala Manabe - use "CLASSES (565)"

Kianza - village square - use "REAL PROPERTY (423)" and/or "COMMUNITY STRUCTURE (621)"

Kibory - communal burial tombs - use "BURIAL PRACTICES AND FUNERALS (764)" with "SACRED OBJECTS AND PLACES (778)"

Mpanzaka - King - use "CHIEF EXECUTIVE (643)" with "STATUS, ROLE, AND PRESTIGE (554)"

Ndevo - descendants of formerly enslaved families, war captives and other individuals of lesser hereditary status- use "CLASSES (565)" with "SLAVERY (567)" or "AFTERMATH OF COMBAT (727)"

Ombiasy - medicine man/magician - use "SHAMANS AND PSYCHOTHERAPISTS (756)" or "MAGICIANS AND DIVINERS (791)"

Sarombavy - a male who adopts feminine roles (also called "berdache)- use "DIVISION OF LABOR BY GENDER (462)" with "HOMOSEXUALITY (838)"

Vahoaka - social class representing the commoners among Tanala Ikongo - use "CLASSES (565)"

This culture summary was written by Teferi Abate Adem in November 2007.

Indexing Notes by

Teferi Adem

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