Mahafaly AloAlo Funery Pole Fragment Long Horn Zebu Steer, Madagascar #742

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  • Mahafaly AloAlo Funery Pole Fragment Long Horn Zebu Steer, Madagascar #742
  • Old head portion of an AloAlo grave stele of the Mahafaly, holy Zebu ca. 1980 Betiky region. A small but fine head part of the AloAlo with very large, pronounced horns.
  • The death steles (AloAlo) are set up by the Mahafaly ethnic group according to old rites as a reminder of the deceased and as a spiritual task for the next generation. The posts are commissioned according to the specifications of the head of the family and tell of the life or life wishes of the dead. The Mahafaly are not strongly attached to material things, but they are very active mentally/emotionally. After death, the soul (Razana) of all people passes into sacred animals in order to then achieve universal unity with the Creator God (Andriamanitra) in several stages. These ancestral beings (usually ibis, zebu, crocodile) are often depicted on the important head part of the AloAlo. The post below always shows astrological motifs. These stelae are draped on the casket, which is stately and made of stone compared to the dwelling houses, and often surround the central mortuary as guardians and messengers. The many attached zebu horns come from sacrificed cattle and testify to the rich heritage of the man. The more magnificent a grave, the more respected the family.
  • Very often a zebu (omby) is used as a headboard. In the arid south, these cattle form the livelihood of families and are also a status symbol. The continued existence of the clans depends on the livestock, which is also why this is revered as sacred.
  • The dry climate preserves the wood for quite a long time, but the elements leave their mark on the sculptures. Rotted or broken stakes are then removed by the family, if still resident. However, the top (head) of the statue is important and is sometimes detached and kept or sold as is. Sometimes there is also a "rewriting of history" by subsequent family members and fragments of the ancestral stelae are cut out, supplemented or destroyed.
  • The hardwood Menabe used is not rotten or brittle on the inside! Due to being outside, the surface is heavily weathered, oxidized and overgrown with lichen. The rare rain has washed deep gullies into the wood and there are demolitions in recent decades. These are safe age indicators that cannot be artificially generated.
  • The real AloAlo are an artistic rarity, because the ancestor cult, which comes from Papa Neuginea, found physical expression in these stelae only in Madagascar. The export of cultural assets / antiques is strictly limited in Madagascar. 
  • 26 x 13 x 7 cm
  • For generations, zebu cattle have symbolized power and prosperity in Madagascar. With their distinctive humped backs, long crescent horns, and flapping dewlaps, the animals are used to pull carts and plow fields; they're even featured on the country's coat of arms.