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buber.net > Basque > Folklore > Discussion of the Lauburu
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Discussion of the Lauburu

These are some excerpts (sp?) from the Basque-L discussion list about the origins of the Lauburu.

Date: Fri, 10 Feb 1995 12:07:07 -0500
From: Mikel Susperregi (msusperr@EMERALD.TUFTS.EDU)

On Fri, 10 Feb 1995, Jose Merzero wrote:

Hi guys!

Since i'm in the USA some people asked me about the meaning of the "Lauburu" (four-heads), and the only thing i know about it is that it is an old decoration (?) symboll, does somebody know if it has any meaning? (or interpretation) Thanks,


The Lauburu is a mythological symbol to denote the four elements out of which (as it was believed by many ancient peoples) everything is formed, ie. water, earth, air and fire.


Date: Fri, 10 Feb 1995 15:20:03 -0500
From: Mikel Susperregi (msusperr@EMERALD.TUFTS.EDU)

On Fri, 10 Feb 1995, Enrique Gutierrez Argandon~a wrote:

Apart from basque Country, the Lauburu appears in some ancient cultures as Celtic and in old stones from Asturies. I have read as well that the lauburu has the same origin than the Svastica but I can+t remember which origin was. I think it's about the sun.


It's true that the Lauburu appears in other cultures too. However, in slight variations & the distinctive round-shaped one is purely Basque I think. It's mythological origin is related to the four elements of the universe, & not the sun. Contrary to what is widely believed, the swastika was not invented by the Nazi movement, but it was a v. ancient Chinese astrological symbol.


Date: Mon, 13 Feb 1995 22:56:56 EST
From: "Maria S. Santisteban" (mss6e@DAYHOFF.MED.VIRGINIA.EDU)

Reading from amama's encyclopedia, it seems that the lauburu shares the caracteristics of other swastikas, which have been employed for thousands of years as religious signs and decorative emblems. There are swastikas with the arms pointing either clockwise or counterclockwise, and with more than four arms, as Enrike said. It seems that swastikas appeared in ancient China, Egypt and India. Anyway, they have been found on Greek coins, pre-Christian Celtic and Scandinavian artifacts, in the catacombs of the early Christians at Rome, and in Byzantine buildings. Swastikas were also widely used by American indians. It seems that they represented the sun and infinity.

The nazis, mistaking its origins, regarded swastikas as an "aryan" symbol and linked it to the notion of their "racial superiority".

For the lauburu, its very plausible that it represents the sun. In basques' prehistoric religion, Jose Miguel Barandiaran saw some signs pointing to an indoeuropean influence in the cult of the sun (e.g., the orientation of the dolmens). As for other indogermanic people, the sex of the basque sun is feminin. These and other coincidences point to some common grounds of the basque and other indoeuropean paganisms, basques having been less isolated and impermeable to foreign influences than we have always been told.


Significance of the symbol - Sun/Moon Myth

name of the Basque Country; or term Basques call the land on which they live; also means "people from the sun."
word for woman; vertical energy; term for the left side of the body - place where the moon lives.
word for man; horizontal energy; term for right side of the body - place where the sun lives.
word for together; vertical and horizontal energy combined within each individual; union of the left and right sides of the body or the male and female within; the term for balance, harmony, working together.
word for "four heads". The vertical heads, sometimes called sunset, represent female expression (emotional and perceptual) or the elements of fire and water. The horizontal heads, sometimes called sunrise, represent male energy (mental and physical) or the elements air and earth. Often this symbol was the apparatus used prehistorically to make fire and thus represents sacred fire, living flame, and productive power - later to be considered as the Pre-Christian Basque Cross.
Original research by Angles Arrien (1978).
Posted by Amaya Ormaza.

I am an Spanish college student and I saw your beautifull page in the net. I would like to make some comments about the lauburu. Lauburu means "four heads" and is considered to be an ancient indo-european symbol. Some people say it represents the sun. In High School, back in Gipuzkoa, our Euskara teacher told us that the lauburu represents or gives luck, depending in which way its arms are oriented. I think that when they point clockwise is a symbol of bad luck and vice versa. Our teacher also told us that it represents the fate of the basque culture, but I don't remember that too well. I hope my comments can be of any utility.

This information sent to me by Mikel Ezkurra

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