How to make a lamba

lambasFollowing on from a comment received to my previous post ‘Traditional Madagascar clothing: the lamba‘, here’s a quick guide to making your own lamba. Even a total beginner at clothes making could make this.

The lamba is made of two parts; the lamba oany, which goes round the body, and the kisaly which is draped around the shoulders or head.

Making the lamba

Lamba oany: this is a long tube of cloth sown down the drop. It’s 2metres wide around the body before it’s sown (so 1 metre wide when you step inside it). The standard drop is 1.50 metre – but this can be adjusted. It needs to be roughly armpit to ankle. Simply sow down the drop to make a tube.

Kisaly: this is a piece of material of the same cloth 2 metres by 2 metres.

Choice of material

red lambaLambas tend to be made out of 2 types of material – neither of which I have precise information on (maybe a reader can help here).

One is close to cotton and is thus not transparent.

The other is more transparent and very soft. It’s closest to a transparent sarong or scarf but has a bit of weight to it so it hangs well but is still breathable.

Wearing the lamba

To wear around the chest, step inside the tube of the lamba oany and hold it wide at the top between both hands. Then fold it around you like a towel – taking head lamba each hand under the opposite armpit. Many women just manage to tuck it in – you can also tie a knot in the ends at the middle of your chest and then cover the knot by pulling a bit of fabric over it.

To wear around the waist just wrap it round and tuck it in. Any way you manage to keep the lamba staying put is acceptable – and will be slightly different depending on the shape of your body.

The kisaly can be wrapped around the head in any way you like, or draped around the shoulders.


11 Responses

  1. This information was very helpful for my daughter. She chose Madagascar as a topic to research for the Cultural Fair

  2. Our school is doing a thing on different types of countries and we chose madagascar.This website is very hepful.Thanks. 🙂

  3. This was so imformational for my report and it was really helpful.
    THANKS!!!!!!!!!!!! =)

  4. I love finding a good website with quality information and this one rocks!
    Thanks alot !!!!!!

  5. I have been researching my family’s history and have discovered that I have a Malagassy ancestor! I would like to know was the lamba worn during the late 1600’s?

  6. Hi Ruth
    I am a vazaha who has visited Tamatave twice this year, and hope to return again for a longer stint in 2009. I don’t often have time to spend searching the net, but when I do, it’s usually in frustration at not being able to find anything that gives insight to the Malagasy culture. How I wish I had found your blog before!! It is so honest and really helpful.
    I hope your next little one arrives safely and that you are soon back blogging — I’ll definitely keep a close eye on your site.
    And to all those Malagasy bloggers out there, keep it up, we love learning about your country and culture 🙂
    Carol du Toit

  7. a nice to live

  8. I discovered your blog after a conversation at a school party her in Los Angeles – I am researching various cultures to celebrate and highlight in a new textile based business I want to start and I was told about a prefessor from Tennessse who went to Madagasgar and is dong something with lambas, I want to bring various cultural designs into my textiles. – to have locals design a textile pattern and get credit and paid for that. Also good friend after finishing Peace Corp in Zaire in the 70’s visited your island.

  9. Excellent blog, information and photos.

  10. this is a very helpful website im doing a project in social studies and for my country i picked madagascar. it helped my grade a lot

  11. This is really helpful. My daughter chose Madagascar for a class project and she wanted me to make their traditional dress for her. This is so easy, I can even ask her to make it herself.

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