ZAFIMANIRY

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The Zafimaniry are a sub-group of the Betsileo ethnic group of Madagascar. They live in the forested mountains of the southern central highlands southeast of Ambositra, between the neighboring Betsileo and Tanala peoples. There are approximately 100 Zafimaniry villages, which support a population of approximately 25,000. The Zafimaniry speak a dialect of the Malagasy language, which is a branch of the Malayo-Polynesian language group which comes from the Barito languages, that are spoken in southern Borneo.

They are known for their woodcarving knowledge and art, which was added in 2003 to UNESCO’s list of the world’s Intangible Cultural Heritage. This style of woodworking was once common throughout Madagascar but has decreased because of deforestation. Their art is considered by historians to provide insight into the applied arts of the past in Madagascar.