Childhood

By Christopher D. Roy
University of Iowa

Boys wearing leaf masks to imitate their elders, Bagassi, Burkina Faso, 1983. Photo by Christopher D. Roy

Children often make masks and other types of art objects in imitation of those used by their elders.  They play under the supervision of older boys in preparation for the time when they will be separated from their families and undergo the period of training in the sacred knowledge of the lineage and group.  This play serves to integrate them more smoothly into the next level of membership in the community and creates ideals of adult roles.  Some of the same relationships between the members of age-grades that result from initiation have already begun to take form at this level.