LAMBA is an ongoing photography project intended to show how the lamba, the Malagasy garment, serves as a symbol of the island’s cultural heritage, pride, and symbol of empowerment for Malagasy people.
Although western attire has taken over Malagasy peoples’ clothing in daily use among the young generations. The lamba remains cherished by our grandparents, who wear them on all on special occasions. It still accompanies most Malagasy at each important step of their lives. For instance, men offer cloth to their brides at marriage, a bride and groom are encircled in a single cloth to symbolize their union, and descendants honor their ancestors by wrapping their remains in a lambamena, the silk burial shroud, during traditional rites.
The lamba remains a symbol of status and cultural pride. Malagasy people take pride in style and appearance and fashion design has remained in a sense, indigenous to the island of Madagascar. We wear solemnly this textile that connects the living and their ancestors, making us unique, dignified, and empowered.
This project takes form as a portrait series inspired by the tradition of African studio portraiture, and shot with a medium-format film camera. For the background of each picture, I used lambahoany, a printed cotton lamba typically depicting a Malagasy everyday life scene, and featuring a proverb on the lower border of the design.
LAMBA is intended to document and add value to my cultural heritage. This project is my tribute to my people, my country, and it is deeply inspired by the tradition of African portraiture.
Miora Rajaonary is the recipient of The FENCE 8th edition Jurors Choice Award where she was awarded a $5,000 grant plus an exhibition at Photoville.