The Island That Time Forgot: 100 Ariary (Madagascar, 2004)-Article

Updated: Nov 17, 2021

This Madagascaran banknote represents the 1st denomination of the Ariary Series 2004. The island of Madagascar is unusual, as it uses a non-decimal currency. One Ariary is divided into 5 “iraimbilanja”. Which is based on an old measurement used by the Malagasy, meaning "one iron weight". The Malagasy were a seafaring people who landed in Madagascar, from the Malay Archipelago over 1,000 years ago. The note's text is printed in Malagasy, with some French. Due to the island's French colonial past.


The observe's foreground features a Traveler’s Palm (left), a unique species of false palm tree. It's fans grow eastward-westward, allowing them to be used as an emergency compass by ancient islanders. The travel palm is also rumored to have been used as an emergency source of fresh water. Although the rain water that collects in its stems, is murky and should not be consumed unpurified.

At the note's background (center) is “The Great Tsiney”, at Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park, in Northwestern Madagascar. This geological wonder, formed from eroded networks of ancient caverns

on the island. In the Malagasy language "Tsiney" means, "where one cannot walk barefoot". This usual landscape is home to unique plants and animals, 90% of the endemic species live only within the Tsingey. These species inhabit the primordial forest, which grows between the rocky spires of the Tsingey. They included species, such as the Madagascar Fish Eagle, Bamboo Lemur and Von der Decken's Sifaka.

The note's sides utilize a set of Omron ring arrays. These function as an anti-counterfeit measure. First patented in 1995, by the Japanese Omron Corporation. Omron rings prevent certain banknotes from being photocopied. The system relies on lines of embedded code, within commercial imaging software. That detect and reject the presence of Omron rings. When detected by compatible scanners, the rings cause an error message.


On the note's reverse is the beautiful Antsiranana Bay, located on Madagascar’s' northeastern shore. This natural bay is believed to be formed from either a submerging coastline or a drowned river valley. It's currently unknown how long it's been used to shelter ships from Indian Ocean storms. The first Europeans to document the bay were Portuguese sailors in1500. The bay was continuously used as a pirate shelter, during the Golden Age of Piracy (1650s-1730s). Leading to speculation that it may be the location of the legendary pirate colony of Libertatia.

The note's security is robust it features additional Omron ring arrays at its sides and lower fringe. These areas are reinforced by micro-text, it reads "BANK FOIBEN'I MADAGASIKARA” (Central Bank of Madagascar), in sequence. To the left of center is a security tread, when back-lit it displays blue/green and red elements. The read BFM (Central Bank of Madagascar) in sequence. To the right of the watermark is half of Madagascar light puzzle. The reverse's center features a column of blue holographic stamps. The stamps read “100” in sequence, inter-spaced by a divider stamp.


This note's watermark is based on previous the Malagasy Francs series, retired 1 January 2005.

The example provided (10,000 Francs) is applicable to the current Malagasy ariary.

The watermark features a Zebu Bull (with an electrotype vertical "100"). A robust type of cattle brought by Malagasy sailors, from South Asia. Zebu provide the majority of Malagasy livestock and continue to be used in traditional farming.

Ultraviolet Light Analysis

When observed under ultraviolet light, an invisible vertical “100” reveals itself. It shies a bright incandescent blue, as does the security tread it aligns with. This tread can be observed from both sides of the note. The serial number shines a dim florescent green, note brightness can vary between notes.

The reverse features Antsiranana Bay, glowing this same florescent green. Although with significantly greater intensity. The ultraviolet sensitive ink highlights the sky and sea.

Ultraviolet light analysis shows a number of luminous fibers. Under regular white light the fibers appear invisible, the fibers are made from recycled cotton. Noted the luminous nature of said fibers, may be incidental. As other banknotes printed on recycled medium then to have this same effect.

Ultraviolet Gallery

Additional Note

  • This note's size is 120 x 60 mm or 4.72 x 2.36 in, slightly smaller then it's predecessor. The 1994 Malagasy 500 Franc, which was 128 x 69 mm or 5.04 x 2.99 in.

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