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buber.net > Basque > Folklore > Basque Mythology: Basajaun
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Basque Mythology: Basajaun

The following was translated from an article originally in Spanish at the Encyclopedia Auñamendi.

Basajaun means «Lord of the forest».

The Basajaun is the spirit that inhabits the deepest forests or caves situated in prominent places. He has a tall body, of human form, which is covered in hair. His long mane falls before him to his knees, covering his face, chest and stomach.

He is the protective spirit of the flocks. He gives shouts in the mountains, when a storm approaches, so that the shepherds may withdraw their sheep. By lurking around a pen or its surroundings, he keeps the wolves from approaching. His presence is announced by the sheep who, shaking, and ring the bells around their necks. Thus the shepherds can go to sleep in peace, knowing that during that night or that day the wolves, great enemies of the flocks, will not come to bother them.

Basajaun is represented at times as being horrific, gifted with colossal strength and extraordinary agility. Other times he appears in popular stories as the first farmer from whom man learned about the cultivation of cereals and as the first blacksmith and the first miller, from whom man stole the secret of making the saw, the axis of the mill and how to weld the metals.

Reference: Vinson, Folk-Lore du Pays Basque (1883), p. 43. J. M. of Barandiarán, Eusko-Folklore (1922); Basque Mythology (1960), pp. 75-76.

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