Nature, Spirits and Arts in Burkina Faso

by Christopher D. Roy
University of Iowa

Market day, Bwa peoples, village of Dossi, Burkina Faso, 1984. Photo by Christopher D. Roy.


Every third or fifth day in each village, the people of the community gather in an open space to exchange goods they have in surplus. These markets serve as the major means for the distribution of goods throughout the community, so that each family can obtain the food, tools, clothing, fuel, and other items necessary for life. The days between markets define the length of the market week, and the market week is used to mark the passage of time for major community events. Here, in the Bwa village of Dossi, in central Burkina Faso, men and women gather to exchange and sell surplus millet, sorghum, cotton, peanuts, sesame, and other cultivated crops, and to purchase iron tools, bicycle parts, batteries for radios, and textiles from itinerant vendors . Masks often perform on market days to attract large audiences, which will spend their money at the market.