A Dogon village is composed of various associations with different purposes and functions within the community. One of the most important is the awe, a men's association which is responsible for the initiation of young boys. The actual initiation begins after circumcision when the boys are taught about their people's myths through drawings and paintings. He will learn about Dogon mythology, (which is very complex), and find his place in nature, society and the universe.
This circumcision stool is more than a functional tool, it is a symbolic object of a rite of passage. The act of circumcision itself is symbolic, a manifest way of letting go the innocence of childhood and becoming a man. After the ceremony the boys will not only be physically transformed, they will then be introduced into the secretive world of men, which up until then was out-of- bounds and mysterious. At the right moment they will be presented to statues hidden in sanctuaries, and asked to interpret their meaning to the best of their ability. There are some objects, such as this stool, which immediately recall important moments of one's life, held in trust for the future by the sculptor's skill and the illumination of memory.