First published: Summer 2008
The Mahafaly consider their dead to be 'gods on earth': intermediaries between the supreme being and humankind who watch over the living and play a major part in everyday family life. They are believed to influence the fortunes of the living, and offending or neglecting them can lead to great hardship. As a result, great care and expense goes into building the tombs, which are the main link between the living and the dead.
The massive monuments are built from stone blocks and stand in a field of stones in which zebu horns are often planted. The zebu, a symbol of prosperity, is a kind of buffalo traditionally sacrificed in large numbers during funeral ceremonies