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Antakarana kingdom (Madagascar)

Last modified: 2009-05-03 by bruce berry
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[Antakarana flag] image by Jarig Bakker, 12 Jun 2005 See also:

Antakarana kingdom


The Embassy of Madagascar in Belgium gives the list of the ritual ceremonies in Madagascar.
Every five years in winter (dry season), the Tsangan festival takes place. It is the biggest Antakarana festival, aimed at consecrating the royal power and strengthen the family links among the descendants of  King Tsimiharo.
The festival includes:
- the Mast Feast
- a pilgrimage to Mitsio island and Ankarana caves
- the choice, cutting and shaping of the mast
- the sacrifice of cattle
- on Friday and for several days, dances, songs and shots
- the erection of the mast
- the raising of the national flag of Madagascar
- the raising of the King's flag, "a white field with a red crescent and star"
The mast represents masculinity and the King, the soil represents fecundity and the mother earth.
Source: <>

The listed place names are Antakarana, Sakalava, Ambatoharanana, and Ambilobe, in the "faritany" (province?) of Antsiranana.
Antsiranana, formerly Diégo-Suarez, is located at  the northern point of Madagascar. The island of Nosy Mitsio is located c. 30 km off the north-western coast of Madagascar.
Therefore, the flag might have belonged to a kingdom established in the northern part of Madagascar.
Ivan Sache, 11 Jun 2005

According to this website it did. The flag is as described by Ivan: white with a red crescent pointing upwards below a red 6-pointed star. Image based on a small image by Jaume Ollé, based on Flag Bulletin, X:2/3, 1971 and the article by Lucien Philippe, Les anciens drapeaux de Madagascar, 6° ICV, IJssel Meer, 1975.
Antakarana was in the north of Madagascar, with this chronology:
Antakarana kingdom
1843 - 1891           French protectorate.
1895                       Incorporated into French Madagascar colony.

.... - ....                Kazobe
.... - ....                .....
c.1740                 Andriantsirotso
.... - ....                Lamboina
.... - ....                Tshimbola
1812 - 1825        Tsialana I
1825 - 1882        Tsimiharo           (d. 1882)
1882 - 1895        Tsialana II         (b. 1837 - d. 1924)

It looks like the line is continued up till now, with e.g. a Tsimiharo III.

According to Zimpel's "Lexikon der Weltbevölkerung", 1997, the Antankarana is a tribe with 100.000 members in Madagascar, sedentary cattle-owners, sailors, and fishermen. Ethnically mixed between negroid Africans and Arabs since the 12th century. In the middle of the 19th century Antankarane and its neighbour, Sakalava, were overrun by the Merina empire; the rulers fled to small islands off the coast, and applied for assistance from the French; in return they would place themselves under the French protectorate - which resulted in the downfall of the Merina empire and the colonisation by the French.

The UNESCO General History of Africa, vol. V, 1992, has this:
Andriantsirotso ruled c. 1697-1710, or, depending of the texts, 1710-c.1750. He introduced the unifying symbol of Antankara royalty, the "saina", the flag with crescent and star, brought back from Maroantsetra.
It adds in a footnote, that "Although the royal Antankara family converted to Islam in the 1840s (in exile), the flag itself and its crescent had no connections with this religion other than visual (copy of the crescent).
Jarig Bakker, 12 Jun 2005