It so happened that I saw two kids playing “headband hoop” in the Ducal Court of the Sforza Castle in Milan one day after seeing Children’s Games at the Museum of Arts History (Kunsthistorisches Museum) in Vienna.
I must admit I had spent some time deducing the purpose of “playing the scourge” on the right side of the painting: a fellow wielding a stick with a weight on a rope, like a flail, taking aim at the bottoms of three other youngsters, one crawling, the other two trying to run away from the blows. But Bruegel’s ugly children – dirty adults? wizened fools? – could be doing it for nothing but fun.