Objects Used by Children
When children mature they take on more responsibilities in their families in many African cultures. Among the Oromo of Ethiopia, people say that it is the mouse who learns to chew through the grain sack from its mother, meaning that children learn how to survive from parental teaching. While children are usually given informal instruction on adult duties by their parents, on occasion they might also receive an art object to help them learn certain tasks and to show them that they are moving on to a new stage in life.
Among the Turkana who live in the dry lands of northwest Kenya, young girls are given dolls made by their mothers with which to play and learn. Like in America, young Turkana women use dolls to role play how to properly care for future children. The dolls also serve to ensure fertility when they are worn around the neck of girls of marriageable age or new brides. Once a woman gives birth to her first child, her doll will be given to a younger relative.

© Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University,
Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester and Dallas Museum of Art
For more information please contact odyssey@emory.edu.
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