Ethnographic Atlas

The main purpose behind the Ethnographic Atlas of the Basque Country collection is to gather systematically information about the facts of traditional culture. To date seven volumes have been published on the following themes: food, children’s games, funeral rites, rites of passage, livestock and shepherding, popular medicine and home and family.

Based on the criteria established by the late José Miguel de Barandiaran, the Ethnographic Atlas of the Basque Country compilation brings together the results obtained by researchers from fieldwork. The Labayru Fundazioa writing team unifies the resulting corpus of surveys, compiles relevant information from essays and journals, sifts material sent in by researchers, systematizes the work chosen for publication, writes the accompanying texts and prepares editions.

All this gives a general overview of the subject researched, while putting the ethnography of the Basque Country on a level comparable with the kind of material published elsewhere.

As the range of subjects increases, an exhaustive encyclopaedia registering 20th century lifestyles throughout the Basque region comes into relief.

Ethnotoponymy

More information: Etnotoponimia on-line

Place names can refer to larger areas (like a town, a village or a neighbourhood), or they may identify a particular spot (a fountain, a market garden). Often names become fossilized and thus retain information from a previous era of the language. The study of place names provides plenty of knowledge about our roots. Every road, fountain, house, stable, hermitage, market garden and field has its name for the locals.

Nowadays Basque place names can be found in areas where perhaps Basque is no longer spoken, or a name like Iturrigorri may appear where all remains of the fountain the word refers to have long since disappeared. If for instance one comes across the place name Goikoetxe, there will almost certainly be a Bekoetxe or similar name close by. Place names are rich sources of information, as they tell us something about local geography, history and ways of life.

Labayru Fundazioa has for years used its own methodology to analyse names. Old archives and questions put orally to informants have supplied plenty of information that has been used to set up a database. Fieldwork has been done in places like Basauri, Etxebarri, Lezama, Elorrio, Bedia, Larrabetzu and Mungia. The results of this research have also been published in books, maps and teaching units.

The data accumulated to the present time may be consulted online in the Bizkaiko Onomastika Datutegia database. It features names registered in written documents, oral information or associated ethno-essays, observations and photographs.

Popular cultural heritage

Labayru Fundazioa has long experience collecting what we call the intangible heritage. Since the 1970s, we have gathered a great deal of very valuable information from all over Bizkaia. In recent years, we have taken up the task of recording popular lore and producing material adapted to the latest media ready for presentation to new generations. Part of the heritage gathered is available at www.herriondarea.eus.

Labayru Fundazioa continues to gather examples of the intangible Basque cultural heritage. Information collected from our informants is later classified and analysed with a view to redistributing it to the local population.

New technologies are key to a range of products that varies according to our target publics: teaching units, general publications, short essays on local areas or individual subjects, multimedia contents, field and toponymic itineraries…

Our society is living through major change. More than ever, we need to carry out a systematic analysis of our heritage, recording and registering the intermediate steps of change as it occurs, as a means of eventually understanding the complete process. It is a way of uniting past and future and of giving continuity to the chain of transmission.

Urte sasoiak

More information: www.urtesasoiak.com

This project brings together many Basque cultural expressions (celebrations, customs, songs, dances, beliefs and costumes) associated with the four seasons of the year. It promotes this remarkable store of custom as a source of knowledge suitable for educational purposes.

Urte sasoiak is a result of cooperation between Labayru Fundazioa and Euskal Herriko Ikastolen Elkartea. Videos, audios and books concerning each season were originally published between 1997 and 2000. To revamp the project, the website www.urtesasoiak.com was set up in 2014 to house and display the original texts, images, audios and videos.

Although the material was initially produced for educational purposes, the current digital version makes it much more accessible to all kinds of users: teachers, students, researchers, scholars or ordinary people interested in Basque culture.

Now available in four languages (Basque, Spanish, French and English), the original project has been considerably enhanced, and being on the Internet makes it accessible from just about anywhere in the world.