One of the major activities of women, particularly in villages, is grinding. In towns, grinders set up shop in the streets and do this for money.

Grinders use a mortar, into which they put their cereal grains, and a pestle with which to crush them. Women grind millet, sorghum and rice to separate the grain from the husk and then again to hull it. Cereal that has been ground is winnowed and then ground again to make brokens (rice) or flour (corn, millet or sorghum). Mills have tended to replace this arduous task.

Many people do their grinding together and women sing to give some rhythm to their movement because you need good timing to avoid getting two pestles in the mortar at once! Every so often, a grinder will throw her pestle in the air and clap her hands before catching it. The others do the same in turn, making it into a kind of game to relieve the monotony of the work.

In order to have more room to move, one of the grinders has hitched up her skirt to her loincloth (traditional underwear).

Women are represented decked out in their jewellery: bracelets, necklaces and "libidor" (gold coins) in their hair. The woman at the far end is wearing traditional ethnic multicoloured earrings that are of Muslim origin.

While the men work, the elders who stay in the village take advantage of the opportunity to chat or "palabrer". Most, both men and women, wear clothing that has been woven in traditional patterns.

Behind the houses, millet granaries made of braided stalks are constructed on wood piles to protect the grain from predators (insects and rodents) and humidity.

Catholics or animists as well as Muslims no doubt live in this village because a pig, forbidden in the Muslim religion, can be seen in the background not far from the woman with the earrings.
Musée de la Femme "Henriette Bathily"
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