The Lamba cloth of Madagascar
A lamba is the traditional garment worn by both men and women in Madagascar. This textile, highly emblematic of Malagasy culture, consists of a rectangular length of cloth wrapped around the body.
Traditional lambas used for burial were often made of silk while those for daily wear were more often made of raffia, cotton or bast. These could range in color from common undyed or solid white cloth, to striped red, white and black cloth found in most parts of the island, the geometric patterns in unique shades of green and brown produced by a handful of Sakalava villages, or the brilliantly multi-colored, complex weaves favored by the pre-colonial Merina aristocracy. Today it is common to find printed cotton or rayon lambas produced in India for the Malagasy market in addition to those fabricated locally.
Besides it’s daily use as basic clothing, the lamba is also used for tying children to mothers’ backs or as a cushion when carrying a heavy object on top of the head. The lamba is also used ritually to wrap the remains of the dead before placing them in the family tomb. Read more.
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