Basque ethnography at a glance

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Lezama, 1959.

In Gernikaldea, women and men alike traditionally wore dark simple clothing to work in the fields. When it came to working in the barn and stalls, they would wear any old clothing so it did not matter if it became stained with manure or when milking.

When ploughing or working in the market garden, men wore denim and often patched (erremenduak) trousers, a denim or gingham shirt, waist belt (garrikoa) to help with lower back pain, an old jumper and a beret (txapela) on their head.

Women wore a skirt (gona), blouse and a jacket over it, apron (amantala) and headscarf. If they had to pop out to the vegetable garden in bad weather, they would put the galoshes that were usually kept in the porch over their canvas shoes.

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Photo: Fernando Hualde.

Hidden away in the sabayao or attic, frequently broken or damaged, are old ceramic vessels that have outlived their use and survived the inevitable passing of time. The odd few, but increasingly more, are clean, and proudly on display in the home. We often cannot agree on how to call them and concepts such as stew pot, jar, pitcher, cooking pot, basin, pan, jug, etc are all intermingled and confused in the popular vernacular. However, all share the fact that they were all handcrafted and played an important role of being used to store, cook and serve food in the home.

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Spoonbills. Photo: Bird Center

Bird migration is closely related to climatology and meteorology, as they determine food availability in the different seasons.

The birds that breed in northern Europe set off on a journey in autumn. They make their way in stages to the mild and warm areas of European and Africa, which are their winter-feeding grounds.

At the end of the winter, the days get longer and heralds the start of spring. The birds then start to make their way north. Thousands of birds use the short, but fruitful northern European summers to feed off the abundance of insects, fruit and prey at that time of year.

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Newly-weds with the family. Bedia, 1959.

Ownership of the house or being its leaseholder would be the fundamental tangible aspect around which the family unit was formed and structured. As marriage was one way of joining that unit, a marriage contract was the civil constituent instrument to formalise that integration. Nothing was left to chance. The aim was to make sure that everything was covered based on the family’s experience. The marriage contract established the civil constituent instrument to join the family and the religious ceremony would solemnise or enshrine it.

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