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Identifier: Film Collection no. 207

Scope and Contents

Filmed during the AMNH Davison-Willis Madagascar Expedition, 1953. The three tribes portrayed in this film, the Mahafaly, the Antandroy, and the Vezo, live on the southern and southwestern coast of Madagascar, between Tuleau and St. Dauphin. Following views of Vezo dwellings (houses on stilts built within a fenced area), the people are seen shelling and grinding corn, breast-feeding their children, fishing, and constructing a trano lay made from a sail and mast and used to protect them from the elements when on an overnight boat trip. The outrigger pirogues are seen, as well as Vezo women playing drums and singing. The Mahafaly are seen with their zebu cattle. Their beautiful family tombs, made of large, rectangular stone, are topped with zebu horns, the number of which denote prestige, and aloalos, or wooden totem pole like statues, commemorating events in the lives of the deceased. These family tombs usually contain many bodies. In a market place visited by the Vezo, Mahafaly, Antandroy and Tanosi peoples, fish, manioc, chickens, ducks, mats, baskets, crayfish, and spices are for sale. An enormous tamarind tree stands in the center of town. Two dance sequences are performed by Antandroy male dancers. The first is for the benefit of the expedition, the second, and more elaborate, for the Governor of Mauritius who was visiting the village of Ambovombe. Drumming, chanting and handclapping, performed by the women, provide the music for the dance. Some sequences in this film could not be identified further: men weaving on a loom; many natives playing various musical instruments, including local violins with stringed bows, a calabash box played with a stick, and other variations on the calabash; and sisal plants and Alluaudia procera are seen.


  • 1953

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Not available through interlibrary loan. Contact AMNH Library Special Collections for terms of access.


1 Film Reel (65 minutes) : silent, color ; 16 mm.

1 Videocassette (U-Matic (65 minutes)) : silent, color ; 3/4 in.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

3/4 in., U-Matic, viewing copy


Original format: 16 mm. print; incomplete.



Gates Davison, photographer.

Madagascar, 1953
Iris Lee
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Museum Archives at the Gottesman Research Library Repository

American Museum of Natural History
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