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buber.net > Basque > Astro > On Basque Astronymy: The Sun and the Moon in Basque Folklore
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On Basque Astronymy: The Sun and the Moon in Basque Folklore

by M. G. Ramos

Tr: Blas Pedro Uberuaga

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The Sun and the Moon in Basque Folklore

42. We see, then, how debatable the religious origins of the Basques are. With these antecedents, result aventurous to speak of Basque mythology. Because of that we cannot assess the fantasies of Chaho, which, as the P. Lhande said very well, lack completely scientific value. In these last years, matured speaking of Basque mythology, and with such a title an interesting conference in Euskara was given by the distinguished professor of the Seminary of Vitoria, D. Jose Miguel de Barandiaran, soul of the Laboratory of Ethnology and Eusko-Folklore, one of the most flowering sections of the meritorious Society of Basque Studies. But it suffices to cast a glance at the conference of Mr. Barandiaran, to become convinced that it is more accurately a study of folkloric character. The data retrieved in it has, however, great interest and permit curious comparisons with Vedic mythology.

In Berastegui it says that the sun is the eye of God, and the same occurs in Elduayen with respect to the moon. We have already seen that in the Vedas the sun is the eye of the gods, the eye of the world.

In Berastegui and Abadiano the children are told that the moon is the face of God, and in Rigoitia it is shown by the nights saying that it is Jesus. For its part, the Rigveda compares the adorable light of Surya with the face ( anika) of the great Agni.

43. But there is another fact even more interesting, which confirms the tight affinity of ideas between sun and eye. According to Barandiaran, in Ataun the sun is called euzkibegie. He translates this as `the eye of the diurnal light', without doubt by way of supposing that eguzki actually means `diurnal light', in which Schuchardt coincides. But whatever the primitive meaning of eguzki, when encountering a compound like euskibegi, we must agree all in that it is composed of euzki, variant of eguzki, and begi `eye', that is, sun-eye, which is precisely one of the interpretations of eguzki proposed by us.

So that, with the word eguzkibegi, on one side we observe the existence of a pleonasmo, and on the other a case of semantic evolution. Right now, the explanation of the why of this evolution is lacking. The same Barandiaran will tell it to us: ``In Ataun they call the solar or diurnal light euzkie.'' It cannot be more clear. On encountering the Basque of Ataun with which eguzki meant at the same time `sun' and `light of the day', there was a desire to differentiate the two, reserving euzki for the solar light and adding begi `eye' to form the name of the diurnal star. Maybe their ancestors did the same to differentiate egu `day' from egu `sun' by way of uzki, which at that time must have been the current name of `eye' (organ of sight).

In English as in Spanish, however the lexical richness of these languages, sun and sol have very diverse meanings. In English, sun means, not only the luminary that lights up the day, but also, in general, the body that occupies the center of a planetary system, and any things extremely splendid or that gives physical or moral light. It also means sunny place, the place where the sun gives fully, and is a synonym of sunlight. In Spanish, in addition to the diurnal body, we designate with the same word `day; light, heat or influx of the sun; musical note; genero de encajes, and coin of Peru'. We cannot express light of the sun or ray of the sun with only one word, as in the English sunlight, sunshine, sunbeam. On the other hand, Spanish has at its disposal the term solana, which in English must be translated by sun, sunny place.

In the Dictionary of Azkue, eguzkibegi and its variants mean `sunny place', that is `solana'. Said variants are: eguzkubegi, ekhi-begi and eki-begi. There is, in addition, in the Gipuzkoan of Ezquioga, the term ekera, which means `sunny place', `east', and which, according to Azkue, is a variant of egutera.

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