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Madagascar: Face Painting an Important Ritual

Madagascar Face Painting; Nosy Be, Madagascar

I met these two young ladies on Nosy Be, an island located off the northwest coast of Madagascar.  Needless to say, I was intrigued by the unusual and intricate designs painted on their faces, something I noticed most women on the island were exhibiting.

Face-painting is an important cultural ritual in numerous societies around the world.  Often, it is done according to tribal rites and has various meanings, depending on the culture, the design, and the sex of the person wearing it.

I was told that in Madagascar, the makeup also serves a more utilitarian purpose — protecting the skin from the sun and mosquitos. Makes sense, as Nosy Be is hot and humid year-round.

In this case, I wasn’t able to learn anything about what the makeup signified on these women because neither spoke much English.  They were able to communicate, though, that they expected a couple of dollars for posing.  I was more than happy to oblige.  Thanks to them, I had a beautiful photo and interesting memory of my trip to Madagascar.

Nosy Be, Madagascar.

Copyright © Dan Fellner 2012


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