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buber.net > Basque > Folklore > The Makila (Makhila)
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The Makila (Makhila)

Travelling Companion

Did you know the following?

The makila is the Basque people's traditional stick,

The makila has a very deep meaning in the Basque culture.

The makila is synonym of command, justice, respect, power and authority.

It is an entirely hand-made and elegant stick whose manufacturing process has been maintained over various centuries.

The reliefs of the piece of wood originate from incising the wild medlar in the forest. This operation causes the sap that rises through the tree branch to swerve around the cuts and to form the designs that characterize the makila. This way mother nature assists the artisan's hand.

The branch is cut in winter, peeled in a furnace, stained with quicklime and heat straightened.

The so prepared rod is adorned at the bottom with a brass, alpaca (German silver) or silver sleeve carefully hand-engraved with Basque motifs.

The other end of the rod is topped with a horn grip fixed by means of a threaded sleeve covered with plaited leather. For the so called makila of honor, the grip is entirely of silver or alpaca.

It is a custom to offer a makila to anybody one wishes to honor and who visits the Basque country. Often politicians, Mayors, Governors, etc. are presented with an elegant makila for their services rendered to society.

The list of famous people that have been presented with a makila is very long. The King Edward VII of England, Churchill, General De Gaulle, The Pope Jon Paul II, are some of them.

Posted by Mr. Jon Goikolea

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