1) Ethnologist, Institut des mondes africains, CNRS-EPHE-IRD-EHESS-Univ. Paris I et de Provence, Associate professor, Ecole Nationale Superieure d’ Architecture de Saint-Etienne,


Doubtlessly, in many societies the mason is an important figure. But he is also the conspicuous absentee from the literature on African earth architecture, and in particular from the literature on West Africa (the most diversified): everyone, it is said, can build his own house, that doesn’t take any technical specialisation; the mason does not have any particular social role. Through a case study – the Lyela of Burkina Faso – this paper proposes to revisit this a priori. In the Lyela country, a mason cannot build his own house: he must call onto a foreign mason who will not dwell in the building he makes. To give an account of this singular fact, the following questions will be asked: how is the mason chosen? How does one ask him to come by and make his building? We should thus understand why he occupies an important place in the construction process.


Keywords: Lyela (Burkina Faso), Banco, Builders, Construction process, Earth, Master-mason