buber.net > Basque > Folklore > The Ikurrina
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The Basque Flag
by Xabier Ormaetxea and Blas Uberuaga
The Basque flag was created in 1894 by Sabino Arana (founder of
The name of the flag is ikurrina (in Italian ikurrigna).
Although the meaning of this word is flag, it is actually used
only for the Basque flag; Basque people prefer to use the Spanish word
bandera for other flags (when they are speaking in Basque, of course).
was originally created only for Bizkaia (the main region of
it became very popular and the rest of the Basque regions (4 regions in
Spain and 3 in France) accepted it as the flag for all of Euskadi. In the
begining only the Basque Nationalist Party (founded by Sabino Arana on
July 31st, 1895) used it, but during the 2nd Spanish Republic
all of the democratic parties accepted it. In 1936, the Basque
Autonomous Government was created (it's Lehendakari (president) was Jose
Antonio Agirre) with representation of all the democratic parties, and the
ikurrina was declared, by law, the Basque flag.
After the Spanish
war, the dictatorship declared the ikurrina illegal, and
it was completely forbiden and declared as a separatist symbol. During the
2nd World War there was a Basque brigade in the French free army, and the
ikurrina of the brigade was condecorated ( because of the battle of Point
de Grave, near Burdeaux).
After the last Spanish dictatorship, and with the approval of the Basque
autonomy, the ikurrina was declared again by law as the official Basque
In the Basque-French country, it has always been allowed and after World
War II it was officially used in the town halls together with the French
Significance of the ikurrina:
Historically, the flag of Bizkaia was red. When Sabino Arana created
the ikurrina, he wanted to give it the meaning Bizkaia, independence and
so the red color of the field represents Bizkaia or Euskadi, the green St.
Andrew's cross stands for the The Independence of the Basque Country.
It is green because it also symbolizes the oak tree of Gernika, the
symbol of Basque freedom. The white cross represents God.
The green St. Andrew's cross: In the Middles Ages (year 867), there was a
battle between the Basques and the Spaniards in a place called Padura. This
battle was on St. Andrew's day. The stones of the place were stained with
blood and since that day that place has been called Arrigorriaga (Place of
red stones). It is not clear if this battle is historical or legendary,
but the St. Andrew's cross has often been used in Basque flags, like those
of the Consulate of Bilbao, The Naval flag of Biscay, and in some Carlists
flags during the Carlists wars (1836-1876).
Measurements and proportions:
Originaly: In a field of 500 cm by 280 cm the crosses had a width of
Since 1936: With the same field, the crosses were enlarged to 43 cm in
width, to make them more visible, especially the green one.
Xabier Ormaetxea (email@example.com)
Blas Uberuaga (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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