Hiragasy, a performing art of the Central Highlands of Madagascar


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Inscribed in 2023 (18.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© Televiziona Malagasy (TVM), Madagascar, 2020

Hiragasy is a performing art composed of song, dance and speech. Originating in the central highlands of Madagascar, the performance takes place in public spaces. It generally involves two troupes and lasts about one hour and thirty minutes, following a standard structure, including drumming, greetings, storytelling, dance and folk songs. The lyrics of hiragasy performances allude to moral, civic and cultural values, and the music is performed using traditional instruments. Hiragasy is present in all Malagasy festive and cultural events. A source of national identity, it is transmitted informally within families, with children following their parents on tour and joining in on the performances. During the royal era, hiragasy was used as a means of communication between rulers and the people to convey a message. With the advent of Christianity, it served as a means of expressing Malagasy faith and culture beyond the temples. Today, it is viewed as a means of conveying morals and cultural values, history and knowledge of Malagasy ancestors. In rural areas, hiragasy is considered as a vital means of educating young people. It maintains social cohesion and promotes peace within the family and among fellow citizens and society.