Thursday, October 08, 2015

The town of Ambohimanga stands on the long gneiss ridge ... It was one of the twelve great cities of former days #QotD

2015.10.03-DSC03782The town of Ambohimanga stands on the long gneiss ridge, which, under the roots of Andringitra, forms the northern boundary of the Imerina plain. The ridge has been broken through at various points; and the hill of Ambohimanga is isolated from those parts of the ridge which lie east and west of it. It is beautifully wooded on all sides. On the north side the houses appear among the trees in three large clusters; and numerous villages are scattered about the clay roots and slopes of the hill. On the south the face of the hill is precipitous: and the gneiss rock shows itself in grey masses, among the woods, in which the white, thin stems of the Amiana trees, gigantic nettles, are specially abundant.

Ambohimanga is a royal city; it holds high rank in the kingdom; and indeed is always associated with Antananarivo in public proclamations. It was one of the twelve great cities of former days; and held almost the highest position among them. (pp.121-22)

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The view from the platform on which our house stood, over the plain to the northward was wonderfully beautiful. Bordered by grand hills and studded with hundreds of villages and towns, Imerina is in many respects one of the most picturesque provinces of Madagascar. Here it is gay with the bright green of the young rice: there it is shaded with the dark woods of Hafy and Ambohimanga. Here the great turtle-head rock of Ambatomalaza stands conspicuous in the landscape, or the lofty pillars of the Three Sisters ; there are the long slope of Fandravasana, the rugged peaks of Antongona, or the towering masses of Ankaratra. Here lie the quiet waters of the Queen's Lake, with its little island embowered in trees; there are seen clusters of villages with their brown huts, the green ramparts of Ambohidrapeto or the lofty amontana of Ambohidratrimo. It was impossible to survey this wide-spread scene without feelings of exhilaration and delight. We know the golden glory which at sunset lights up the snows of Switzerland: but nothing can exceed the sharpness of the light as it plays over the landscape in the crisp, clear air of Madagascar after refreshing rain; and no pen can describe the deep golden blush which beautifies the red hills with an unearthly radiance when the autumnal sun sinks calmly to rest. Day after day, from the terrace of my Madagascar home I looked with feelings akin to rapture upon that wondrous scene. For I saw on every side not merely material beauty, the grace of form, rich tones and tints of colour, or the bountiful supply for a people's wants; I beheld the proofs of a young nation's progress; new houses rising in the villages; (pp.135-36)

From From Twelve months in Madagascar (1875) by Joseph Mullens (1820-1879).

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