Page:Madagascar - Phelps - 1883.djvu/65

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MADAGASCAR.

63

Twelve months was the usual period of mourning in Madagascar; but for special reasons the mourning for Radama was caused to cease at the end of ten months. The people then resumed their usual avocations, and preparations were made for the coronation of the Queen. This event was celebrated with the most barbaric pomp and splendor. It was attended by sixty thousand persons, including eight thousand of the military with all their display of uniforms, parade and martial music. The spirit of British discipline, method and order seemed to pervade the whole ceremony. The royal family and all the judges and high officers of the State were present in full estate, and the royal chair or throne shone bright with the royal scarlet and gold. The Queen, having saluted at the tombs of her ancestors the scarlet flags of the idols Manjakatsiroa and Fantaka—the idol of the sovereign and the idol of the oaths, was then conducted, in her palanquin, to the sacred stone. Surrounded by five generals, each holding his helmet in one hand and a drawn sword in the other, the band playing the national air, she ascended the stone. Standing there, with her face to the east, she exclaimed—Masina, masina, v'aho—“Am I consecrated, consecrated, consecrated?” The five generals replied—Masina, masina, masina, hianao!—“You are consecrated, consecrated, consecrated!” Then all the crowd shouted—“Trarantitra hianao, Ranavalomanjaka! “Long may you live, Ranavalomanjaka!” The Queen, then descending from the stone on the east side, took the idols Manjakatsiroa and Fantaka into her hands, and addressed them, saying, “My predecessors have given you to me. I put my trust in you; therefore, support me.” She then delivered them into the hands of their keepers, entered her palanquin, and was borne to the platform, which she ascended on the east side. She then addressed the immense assembly, and stated, among other things, that she would not change what Radama and her ancestors had done, but that she would add to what they had accomplished.

After the address various tribes came up to acknowledge her sovereignty and assure her of their fidelity. Then followed Arab merchants from Muscat, then the Europeans, and last of all the generals, as representatives of the army. Probably never before had so brilliant a pageant been displayed in Madagascar. The dress of the Queen, on the occasion, is not without interest. On the crown of her head she wore an ornament, resembling a piece of coral, called in French,