1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hòva

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[ 829 ]

HÒVA, the name originally applied to the middle-class Malayo-Indonesian natives of Madagascar (q.v.), as distinct from the noble class Andrìana and the slave class Andèvo. Hòva has now come to mean the most numerous and powerful of the tribes which form the native population of Madagascar. The Hòva, who occupy the province of Imérina, the central plateau of the island, are of Malayo-Indonesian origin. The period at which the Hòva arrived in Madagascar is still a subject of dispute. Some think that the immigration took place in very early times, before Hinduism reached the Malay Archipelago, since no trace of Sanskrit is found in Malagasy. Others believe that the Hòva did not reach the island until the 12th or 13th century. At the French conquest of Madagascar (1895), the Hòva were the most powerful and, politically, the dominant people; but were far from having subjected the whole of the island to their rule. The Hòva are short and slim, with a complexion of a yellowish olive, many being fairer than the average of southern Europeans. Their hair is long, black and smooth but coarse. Their heads are round, with flat straight foreheads, flat faces, prominent cheekbones, small straight noses, fairly wide nostrils, and small black and slightly oblique eyes. The physical contrast to the negro is usually very obvious, but, especially among the lower classes, there is a tendency to thick lips, kinky hair and dark skin. In many of their customs, such as taboo, infanticide, marriage and funeral rites, they show their Indonesian origin. Most of them now profess Christianity.