While the ultimate fate of the Basque Soccer Friendly, to be held on July 30 in Boise, rests on the performance of Athletic Bilbao this weekend against Barcelona, one thing that is not in doubt is that you’ll still be able to get your Basque Soccer Friendly gear! A retail space is opening up on 8th Street in Boise. In addition to being a place where you can get your team gear, it is a place for volunteers to meet and for people interested in the match to gather. It is open Wednesday-Sunday each week. Check it out!
Here are a couple of links to online Basque artists, both of which specialize in traditional art. If you are looking for something special for that old friend you’re going to see at Jaialdi, these might be the places to start.
Irrintzi specializes in wood, clay and steel, with items that highlight the Guggenheim Museum and the Basque history of boating. They also have some panoramic photos of various scenic views from the Basque Country, including in Bilbao and Donostia, where they also have stores for those that prefer a more tactile experience.
Ixiart has even more traditional items, such as the wound candles (Argizaiola) that are common especially in Gipuzkoa and are used especially on All Saints Day. They also carry some interesting novelty items, such as stylized wood carvings of scenes from Picasso’s Guernica and a series of wooden spoons.
When I was a student at the University of Idaho, one of the guys in the same dorm as me found this bottle opener on the street somewhere. This was after I’d spent a year living in Donostia and my Basque fanaticism was no secret. So, he gave it to me.
It’s a pretty hefty bottle opener, with the ikurrina on one side and a representation of the Basque coat-of-arms on the other, with each panel of the coat of arms surrounding the tree of Gernika, all set over the word “Euskalerria.” There are seven panels, as you can see in the photo, which is interesting design as, while there are sort of seven panels on the normal coat of arms, two of them combine to form one. (Nafarroa and Behenafarroa share one, the chains, so that there are really only six different coat-of-arms for the seven provinces.) From what I can tell, the seven panels on the bottle opener belong to (clockwise from the first): Nafarroa/Behenafarroa, Gipuzkoa, Bizkaia, Araba, Lapurdi (the 5th and 6th panels), and Zuberoa. The ikurrina on the other side is a bit worn. In particular, the white has chipped away, though the red and green are still very much intact.
Has anyone seen a bottle opener like this before? I’m very curious as to where it came from/who made it and what else might have also been made by the same designer/company.
After all of the work that the organizers have put into arranging the Basque Soccer Friendly, scheduled to take place on July 29 in Boise, what might actually cause the biggest hiccup is Athletic Bilbao’s own success. They finished 7th in the Spanish League, meaning they qualify for the qualifiers of the Europa League, the first game of which is on July 30. There is no way they can play both games, and the Europa League comes first.
The one possible way to keep the Boise match on schedule is if Bilbao beats Barcelona next week on May 30 to win the Copa del Rey, which would give them an automatic berth in the Europa League, bypassing the qualification round and keeping the Boise game on track.
There has been a lot of news about Basque books…
It’s Hammer Time! (am I dating myself?)
Begoña Echeverria’s book, The Hammer of Witches, was just chosen as Editor’s Choice for the month of May by the Historical Novel Society! If you haven’t heard about the novel, I mentioned it here. The story of a young girl in the grips of the witch hunts in a 1610 Basque town, The Hammer of Witches is “a gripping page-turner of horrific historical events” and is the first book [the editor] “ever read that made me feel what it must have been like to be a victim of unfounded suspicion, forced to rely on personal faith, or recant all one holds true.” High praise indeed! Zorionak Begoña!
Revisiting the transformation of Bilbao
Joseba Zulaika, once the head of the Center for Basque Studies at UNR, has just released his most recent book, That Old Bilbao Moon, which is more about the Basque generation of the 60s and how the Guggenheim Museum has come to symbolize, in some sense, not only a rebirth of the city of Bilbao, but maybe also a touchstone for that generation that had been defined as much by ETA and socialist politics of the 60s as anything. A deep introspective, the book connects the lives of that generation with the city of Bilbao. As Paddy Woodworth says, “Part tormented hymn, part searing personal memoir, all ruthless interrogation and self-interrogation, it is also a tribute to the Basque city of iron and titanium, Bilbao, an unblinking if at times uneven gaze from its gutters to its skylines.“
Basque mythology is full of great characters, from the basajaun, the giants of the forrest, to the bedeviling lamiak and Mari, the Lady of the mountains, and herensuge, a giant serpent that has between one and seven heads. Olentzero, the Basque Santa Claus, was originally a giant, the only one to survive the news that Jesus was born. These are great stories, and now there is an illustrated version of these stories for children. At this time, it is only in Basque, Spanish and French, but maybe it will be translated to English too! I’d sure love to share these stories with my daughter!
You may have already heard about this story, as it has been published in quite a few different places. You see, Iceland — or at least one district within Iceland, West Fjords — has had a law since the 1600s allowing for Basques to be killed on sight. It was only on April 22 of this year that the law was revoked, finally freeing Basques to visit without fear.
In the 1500 and 1600s, the Basques had a thriving whaling industry in Terra Nova, Labrador, and Iceland was a frequent stop on the way. In 1615, a group of Basques was stranded in Iceland after their ships were dashed against some rocks. Maybe because of some of these Basques taking some dried fish from a house, the Icelanders attacked them, first killing a group of 14 Basques and then later another group of 18. The local sheriff decreed that all Basques were criminals and that any Basques that stepped foot in the West Fjords should be killed on sight. What came to be called Spánverjavígin, or the “Spanish Killings”, was the last documented massacre on Iceland soil.
In April, there was a conference commemorating the event and, as part of that conference, the law was officially repealed. Finally.
Of course, many Basques have visited Iceland since then and not been in any harm what-so-ever. Repealing of the law is more a formality and a nice exchange between the Icelanders and Basques.
That said, my PhD advisor is an Icelander. I’m glad that, if I ever visit him in his home country, I won’t have to fear for my life.