Category Archives: Folklore

Basque Fact of the Week: Jaun Zuria, the White Lord

Last week, I introduced the House of Haro and the first Lords of Bizkaia. The mythical first Lord of Bizkaia was Jaun Zuria, the White Lord. Jaun Zuria is a foreigner, of Scottish ancestry. I find it interesting that the Basque legends rely upon a foreign figure to establish the Lordship of Bizkaia. Why invoke […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Sugaar, the Serpent-God Consort of Mari

Much of what the ancient Basques believed about the world around them has been lost to time. Without a written record, we don’t know what beings or deities they worshipped, certainly not to the same extent as the Greek or Norse pantheons. While it seems the Basques believed in a Mother-Earth goddess – Mari – […]

Ethnographic Atlas of the Basque Country

I just stumbled on to the Ethnographic Atlas of the Basque Country, which intends “to provide an overview of popular culture and lifestyles of the Basques throughout the 20th century up to the present day.” It covers a range of every day activities and aspects of every day life, from “House and Family” to “Diet” […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Basque Funerary Customs

During one of my visits to the Basque Country, we visited the hilerria, or cemetery, in Munitibar. I wasn’t clear what was going on, until they started digging up one of the graves. It seems that it was time to move my dad’s grandmother’s body. They dug up her grave — her son, my great-uncle, […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Basque Proverbs

Proverbs capture traditional wisdom and common sense, and every culture has their own set of proverbs. Back in 1994, Jon Aske posted a collection of Basque proverbs he had gathered from a variety of sources. With his permission, I collected them and posted the full list of Esaera Zaharrak on Buber’s Basque Page. These proverbs […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Teodosio, the Knight of Goñi

Many rulers try to legitimatize their power by establishing connections to heroes and legends of the past, sometimes all the way to divine figures. The same has occurred in Basque history. In an effort to connect their lineage to an important mythical figure, the Kings of Nafarroa established a genealogy that connected them to Teodosio […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Akerbeltz

Many of the figures in Basque mythology are shrouded in mystery, their true natures lost to the mists of time. Whatever role they played in the original Basque religion, their character became confused and contorted with the advent of Christianity. The black he-goat – the Akerbeltz – is a prime example. While he was originally […]

Basque Fact of the Week: The Basajaunak, the Wild Lords of the Forest

Basque mythology is full of colorful characters and beings. With the dense forests that cover the imposing mountains rising from the sea, it should come as no surprise that the mythology features beings that dwell in those forest and are closely connected to nature. However, the Basajaunak — the wild lords of the forest — […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Caves and Caverns of the Basque Country

We often associate prehistory with caves, with literal cavemen and cavewomen who sought shelter from the elements and predators within the safety of chasms and grottos. The Basque Country, a place where mountains meet the sea, is full of caves, caverns, and subterranean tunnels. These natural shelters have played a huge role in the history, […]

Basque Fact of the Week: San Martin Txiki, the Basque Trickster

Lots of stories describe how humans discovered the elements of civilization. We have fire because Prometheus was able to steal it from the gods. And such stories about the theft of fire are particularly common, with Rabbit or Coyote stealing fire in the Americas, Prometheus stealing it for the Greeks, and Pkharmat of the Vainakh […]