The bottom of the population, except for the territory of Imerina, is given by a type which, according to A. Grandidier, has the following characteristics: relatively high stature, around m. 1.67; fine, velvety skin, more opaque than that of African Negroes, mostly of a black-reddish color, but substantially very variable everywhere, and not only in the places where the Malesoid type predominates (the residents of the lower places would have, ‘ordinary, darker skin); strong bone and well developed muscles; broad chest; rather long arms; relatively small and wide hands; long legs to poorly developed calf; Wide feet with strong heel and rather low vault. More important are the cephalic characters; large head, at an almost right facial angle, broad forehead, sub-vertical and quite high. The nose is always prominent at the root, that is, not flattened at the top, being rather the wings which, spreading at the base, form a large nose, but never flattened, like that of African Negroes. Brown eyes, usually close to the skin, large and with frequent folds, covering the caruncle: lips strong enough and thick but not eversed, or in circles, as in Africa. The hair is black and thick, not short and woolly, but 25 to 30 cm long. They are rippled, that is to say waves with relatively short waves, and not spiral, as are those of the Negroes of Africa and also those of the Melanesians and Negritos. They are also quite hard and rigid and being implanted straight and not obliquely, as are those of the aforementioned ethnic groups, they form almost inextricable globular masses, similar to those seen in Melanesia. The beard is poorly supplied, but present, black, wrinkled and 3 to 5 cm long. As the Malagasy generally practice the epilation of the beard, it does not appear mostly in photographs, but the rest of the body often shows strong hairiness in men. This type is called Indomelanesian by A. Grandidier.
According to INSIDEWATCH, the leaders of all the peoples of Madagascar and their families are mestizos of the type we have described and of the types of the populations from which the immigrants came: Arabs, Persians, Indians, Europeans and according to the Grandidier even Chinese. In fact, among the Antandroy and Mahafaly of the south of the island, not in the chiefs and their families, which would be of Indian origin, but in the subject population itself, there is a type with a Mongolian face, which the Grandidier would refer to remote Chinese immigrants (not current because only for very recent ages there is evidence of the coming of Chinese).
A Mongolian type is, then, in a relatively pure state among the Merina of the central plateau. Among these, erroneously called Hova, and in the caste of the Andriana, or nobles, above all, due, it seems, to the rigorous marriage selection, which the first Javanese immigrants practiced, the Malay type has been quite clearly preserved, although several centuries have passed since presumed date of Javanese immigration (around 1555). Moreover, it cannot be ruled out that this type persisted from earlier Malaysian immigrants much more remote (at least in the third century AD, according to Ferrand). Among the Merinas themselves, even the caste subsequent to the Andriana, that of the Hova, or free, presents to a greater extent the characters of the dark type, which we have described.
The characters of the other main type, admitted by Grandidier, which he called Malay, are the following: medium height, around m. 1.60; skin color ranging from dark yellow and even olive white to copper red or burnt sienna brown or even chocolate brown; the physiognomic features would be more characteristic of the color; rather thin build and not very developed muscles; small head, flat, oval face, rather delicate features; almond-shaped eyes with increasingly more or less evident Mongolian folds, brown: straight nose, short, never fleshy below; noticeably salient knobs, rather thin lips; the hair is long, fine, straight, soft, straight or slightly wavy. In the Andriana the beard is very poorly supplied, the body not very hairy. The Hova, even for these characters, they are more similar to the dark skin type (Indo-Melanesian). For the characters of the hair, thick and stiff, for the stronger lips, for the yellow tint, the Mongolians of the south would be quite different.
As for measurements on the living, we don’t have much. Boucherau on 12 Merina found an average cephalic index of 85.25. The minimum face diameter was 102, while it would be 110 among the Macua Negroes. It should be noted that this width decreases rapidly as we go towards North Africa. The average horizontal circumference would be 540 against 550 in the Sakalavis; but Boucherau does not say on how many subjects he took this measure. The face would be higher in the Merina. The average nasal index is 85 (diplatirrinia) but there are strong individual fluctuations (75-102). The ratio of the large opening of the arms (= 1.65) to the height (= 1.615) is 102. We do not believe it is worthwhile to report the measurements of 2 Betsileo. The Sakalavis would have a cephalic index of 76 and platyrrhynia (91,3). The Deniker gives a stature of m. 1, 64 as an average of 43 pure and mixed Hova (7). It cannot be decided whether Boucherau’s data is included. For the same it gives an average cephalic index of 80.3. It also offers an average of 76.8 cephalic index for 14 Betsimisaraka, 14 pure Hova give one of 84.8.
Rouquette studied in 1914 the anthropometric characters of three populations of the SE. of Madagascar; Antandroy, Antavaratra, Antanosy. He considered several distances, for which he also gave variation tables. The number of cases on which he took measurements varies from distance to distance, but generally they are several hundred individuals for each of the three ethnic groups. However, not all distances can be said to be morphologically significant.
Let’s briefly give the main results: Antandroys are subdolic and often subbrachycephalic (mean 78-79). The stature is m. 1.67. The ratio of the great opening of the arms to the height is less than 104. The Antavaratras are dolichocephalic (average 73), have an average stature of m. 1.635. The ratio of the large opening to the height is 105. The Antavaratras would then have a less broad face, eyes closer and less open, a more rarely straight nose, and shorter feet than the Antandroys. The Antanosy, except for the cephalic index, would have almost perfect identity with the Antavaratra.
The Antandroys and Antavaratras would each form an anthropological unit according to Rouquette. The characters of the Antandroys lead Sera to suppose the emergence of a Polynesian element in this group.
There are not much more numerous data for craniology. A. Quatrefages and E. Hamy studied 6 male sakalavi skulls and 1 female antankar, 3 male and 2 female betsimisaraka, 2 male and 1 female hova. The respective average values for the horizontal index are: 74.7; 77.4; 71.9; 76.3; 78.1; 76.7; for the vertex-longitudinal index 75.3; 74; 76.2; 71.7; 78.1; 76.7. According to the two authors, the Sakalavis have a somewhat shorter and wider skull and some other character that would differentiate them from the next African populations. The Betsimisaraka would be more similar to the Negroes of Africa. For the cranî hova the authors confirm the opinion of the Grandidier, that they would resemble the skulls of Madura.