Woodwork for everyday life and for expression of beliefs
While basketry is made all over the island, woodworks has a very strong local focus in the southeast highlands. In the villages around Ambositra live the people who are known to the whole country for their knowledge about the forest and different types of wood. Sometimes they are referred to as "Tanala" (the Malagasy word Tanala means "people from the forest") some of them as Zafimaniry. Historical findings shows how they since very early times have covered their household items etc with symmetrical sculpturing. Today, with Christianity being very strong on the island and especially in this region, statuettes of the Madonna, angels and scenes from the Bible are common as well as a variety of household items in new and old design. In 2003, UNESCO proclaimed the wood crafting knowledge of the Zafimaniry community a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. More info on UNESCO website. With an insufficient market for wood products, the forest as well as its inhabitants are at risk. When wood products cannot pay for buying food, the people burn the forest in order to cultivate the steep slopes. But without the roots from the trees, the soil does not remain on the steep slopes. Within shortly, the slope is a bare, unfertile rock. During recent years of political chaos, an additional problem has occurred; illegal logging for timber export. This implicates grave problems for the wood crafting artisans in the country; they have been deprived of their material. Fair Trade is needed in order to give people the possibility to preserve both their environment and culture. La Maison Afrique FAIR TRADE cooperates with artisans in the region making sculptures, e.g. Christmas cribs, angels, candlesticks and wood inlays. Ministère d´Environnement et Fôrets on Madagascar has, before export, controlled and approved all wooden products, incl type of wood used, in La Maison Afrique FAIR TRADE assortment.