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Every Mossi, who dies a natural death, whether man, woman, child, or chief, survives in the person of the kourita. If it is a married man the kourita or koutoarsa (who imitates the dead man) is a woman of his family, usually one of the wives of one of his younger brothers who has a certain resemblance to the deceased. She is chosen by the family and sometimes even designated by the dying man. She takes the dead man’s clothes, his jacket, his blanket, his hat, his old shoes, his bracelets, and his rings; she wears his belt and knives, walks with his staff, mattock, and his doré [ornamental weapon]; she carries his assegai, point downwards. She walks like the man she is representing and tries to imitate him in everything; she continues him amongst his people. If the man was usually accompanied by a child carrying his bag the kourita will have her child following with the same bag, but turned inside out. If the deceased was leprous and had no fingers she will act as though she had none; if he was a laugher she will laugh; if he was a scold and controverted everybody she will not fail to represent this. The children of the deceased will call her father, his wives will call her husband, and prepare the mealie dish for her. If the deceased was a naba (chief) she will be called naba.

She will act thus until the day of the kouré. On that day she shaves her head like the other members of the family and her role is over. But she keeps the name of kourita and when the inheritance is divided she will receive a garment and will return the clothes of the dead man. If the heir is generous and the inheritance is adequate she may receive also some cattle and perhaps a child. The kourita will die sooner than if she had not played this part because the spirits of the ancestors will come for her, and consequently this function is not popular.1

1Mangin, E.n/an/an/an/an/a, "Les Mossi," , 9: 732–733.


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Chicago: "Anthropos," Anthropos in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. Thomas, William I. (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937), Original Sources, accessed June 20, 2024,

MLA: . "Anthropos." Anthropos, Vol. 9, in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, edited by Thomas, William I., New York, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937, Original Sources. 20 Jun. 2024.

Harvard: , 'Anthropos' in Anthropos. cited in 1937, Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. , McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York. Original Sources, retrieved 20 June 2024, from