Beach landscape

By the beach in the area of Iñurritza (Zarautz), there’s a painting with a few people and a mountainous landscape in the background. However, the sand has risen a meter or so since the mural was painted, so for the moment all you can see of it is a piece of the sky and the top of a mountain.


Nothing to do whatsoever with murals I’m afraid, but at least it connects to the earlier post on Basque-Swedish connections: The American Boga – Basque Studies Consortium Journal has just published an article of mine about Euskadi-bulletinen, a Swedish journal published in 1975–76 in solidarity with the Basque independence movement. The text is freely available at the web page of Boga.

Below is a bilingual illustration from Euskadi-bulletinen, with the Basque eguŕa, literally meaning ‘wood’ but here it’s short for eguŕa eman which could be translated to ‘strike hard’ (nowadays it would be spelled egurra). Then the Swedish stöd det baskiska folkets kamp för frihet och socialism means ‘support the Basque people’s struggle for freedom and socialism’, while Basuqe askatasuna at the end means ‘freedom’ (which was the name of the organisation that published Euskadi-bulletinen).


The same issue of Boga also contains an article by William A. Douglass on calculating Basque ethnicity in the US census, another one by Jexux Larrañaga Arriola on bertsolaritza, and a feature on a newly found piece of cave art in the Armintxe cave.

Mural maps


Now there’s a digital mural map available for Deba and Zarautz, the towns best covered this far here at the blog. Please check it out here, and notice that there might be more than one photo linked to each dot.

I’ve also added a few photos to the map that haven’t been on the blog earlier, for example these lads with a cauldron next to the clowns featured earlier:


This wide angle of the high fidelity mural:


And this old photo from 2008, when the etxera symbol was still painted on the mountain wall west of Zarautz. The view is also depicted in the backgrounds of this house mural and of the SKAPA mural from 2004.


Basque Online Mural Archive

I’ve run out of mural photos now, so I’ll take a break with this blog for a while. You can see all the pictures featured this far in the gallery, where previews of them are presented in random order. Feel free to use them in any non commercial context but please state the source.

An idea for the future is to make a digital map as well, like the one Extramural Activity has for Northern Ireland (zoom in on Belfast – it’s impressive).

Another idea is to make the blog multilingual, with entries and interfaces in Basque, French and Spanish as well. Would probably also be good to get a native to proofread my English.

And of course an ambition is to collect more mural photos in the future, preferably from more provinces of the Basque Country – this far, most of the pictures are from the coastal area of Gipuzkoa. But to succeed with a more ambitious mural database, one would need contributors and collaborators who live on site (which I don’t).

If you would be interested in this project or have some photos of Basque murals yourself that you’d like to publish, please send me an e-mail at joakim this-thing

Furthermore, many murals disappear rather quickly, for example this tunnel that has been painted white and this piece of poetry that has been ruined. So it’s a good thing to gather and spread this art, and thereby also saving this cultural heritage for the future.

Otherwise, there are quite a few Basque murals at Wikimedia Commons, for example this one from Aginaga, Usurbil, with a map of Euskal Herria:

And this one in Zornotza from 2009, celebrating the 30th anniversery of the Basque language organisation Euskal Herrian Euskaraz:


And finally this one from Arrasate/Mondragón stating that euskara da gure territorio libre bakarra, ‘the Basque language is our only free territory’. The dancing figures in the corner of the chess table have a Basque flag in a speech bubble (and the e-like symbol of Euskal Herrian Euskaraz, compare with the mural above), while the bishop has a French flag and the king has the colours of the Spanish flag. In the bottom left corner, a etxera stencil has been added:

Other Basque murals can be found at the blog Murales políticos with its awful design. (How can anyone think that coloured text on a black background is a good idea?) Also the slighlty less awful-looking blog Basque Conflict has a few entries about murals.

Otherwise I hope that this blog of mine has contributed a bit so that people interested in murals have got their eyes opened for the Basque Country, and the other way around. Cheers for now.



A house with a house in Zarautz, and the following poem to the left (no translation I’m afraid):

Haizeak mugitu zuen orria
orriak mugitu zuen eguna
egunek mugitu zuten jendea
jendeak mugitu zuen auzoa
auzoak mugitu zituen jaiak
jaiak alaitu zuen auzoa
auzoak piztu zuen jendea
jendeak eman zituen egunak
egunek idatzi zituzten orriak
orriak eraman zituen haizeak.

An interesting detail is the etxera symbol painted on the mountain in the background of the mural. The same mountain can be seen in the background to the right in the photo below, but then without any painting on it (a bit hard to tell due to the very Basque and foggy weather, but believe me, it’s not there). The symbol had been painted and cleaned away several times, but since a few years ago, the cleaing side has won and athorities have banned any paintings being made on the mountain.


A few hundred meters away, severel other houses can be seen in the grotesque painting below, where a mad lad is eating trees and shitting buildings:


In the bottom left corner of the photo above, there’s a small colourful house with a occupation symbol and an even smaller number, 36. This refers to Bizkaia Kalea 36, just on the other side of the road, where there is a gaztetxea, ‘youth house’. That’s an occupied building with different cultural activites, for example mural painting, which could be seen on the whole facade of the house:


This particular youth house is called Putzuzulo Gaztetxea.

Another gaztetxea, one in Deba, has earlier been featured on this blog, the second picture in this entry.

Añorga paintings


Close to the railway station in the Donostian suburb Añorga, an old abandoned industrial building has been occupied and covered with loads of beautiful paintings. For example this one by the Dominican airbrush artist Eme, showing seven women in black and white on a colourful background. Each one holds up a clenched fist, and with their looks and clothing they seem to represent different parts of the world, the one in the middle being Basque (compare the clothes to the ones at the end of this entry):


Other paintings include this one, ametsak elkarbanatuz, ‘sharing dreams’:


And this one, herri tallerra, possibly meant as herri tailerra, ‘public workshop’ (in the occupied building, many different tasks are being carried out, for example repairing bicycles and making furniture). It’s followed by the German phrase lebe der freie Gedanke, ‘long live the free thought’:


Here’s an occupation sign (circle with arrow, same as in the photo above) and an owl:


And here’s a happy monkey with sunglasses:


A not that happy skull:


And finally, this woman, also signed by Eme, and a stilised eagle:


The US connection

The heart of Basque culture in the USA is Boise, Idaho, which has the country’s largest Basque population and even a Basque-speaking mayor, David Bieter. The Basque heritage is reflected in this painting (from Wikimedia) where the B has the colours of the Basque flag:


Another Basque mural in Boise is described at the blog Boise Basque Tour. The Basque painter Judas Arrieta recently created a mural at a local hotel in Boise, which is reported about at the web page Euskal Kultura. The city also has a Basque cultural centre (euskal etxea – see this link for a complete list of all the Basque cultural centres in the world).

The University of Nevada, Reno, with its Center for Basque Studies, is one of the few universities outside of the Basque Country that conducts research and teaching in Basque language and culture. Nevada also holds a Basque mural, made by Beverly Caputo in Gardnerville, also reported about by Euskal Kultura.

And lastly, one can also mention Bernardo Atxaga‘s novel Soinujolearen semea as another Basque-US connection, since it partly takes place in California. In Margaret Jull Costa’s English translation it’s called The Accordionist’s Son.

The Cuban connection


Earlier, we’ve featured this Fidel mural in the Basque Country. Now, here’s a pair of (not that Basque related) murals in Havana – a few doves with Cuban flags above and a cat next to a lamp below. However, the connections between Cuba and the Basque Country go way back. For instance, there were Basque crew members on Christopher Columbus’s first expedition to Cuba. And there are even theories about Basque fishermen reaching America before that – read more about that in Mark Kurlansky’s books Cod and The Basque History of the World.


One of the most prominent Basque writers, Joseba Sarrionandia, probably lives in Cuba. In 1980, Sarrionandia was convicted for being an ETA member and sentenced to prison. Five years later, he escaped and since then he’s been living and working at a secret location, most likely in Cuba.

Finally, a mural with the text amor cuerdo no es amor, ‘sane love is not love’, and a portrait of Che Guevara behind a few rubbish containers. The surname Guevara is of Basque origin, from the village Gebara in the province Araba / Álava. Its meaning is uncertain, and some have suggested that it derives from an Indo-European loanword (either Greek or Gothic).