Many of you reading this will be familiar with the lauburu (literally meaning “four heads” but a term that could also be interpreted as four ends or tips) and its special significance in Basque culture. Its origins are a matter of some dispute (see the Wikipedia article here) and it is clearly not particular to the Basque Country alone, with similar symbols found all over the world and an especially strong connection to Celtic culture . Yet it has an undeniable resonance in Basque culture today. Check out, for example, just how many people like the lauburu enough to get a tattoo of it here in the photo album at Buber’s Basque Page.
What you may not know, though, is that a lauburu appears in a painting by Francisco Goya (1746-1828), who was of Basque ancestry on his father’s side. The painting in question is “Retrato de la Marquesa de Santa Cruz” (1805).
Even more unusual–or perhaps not–is a petroglyph or rock engraving on Woodhouse Crag, Ikley Moor, in West Yorkshire, England, which seems to resemble a lauburu. Also the cause of much speculation, as this Wikipedia article notes here, we’ll leave it up to you to be judge.
Do you know of any other unlikely or unusual sightings of the lauburu?
Santiago de Pablo, author of the CBS publication The Basque Nation On-Screen: Cinema, Nationalism, and Political Violence, has an interesting article (in Spanish) on the cultural and political significance of the lauburu, available free to download here.
The lauburu is also discussed in The Basques of Lapurdi, Zuberoa, and Lower Navarre: Their History and Their Traditions, by Philippe Veyrin, with an introduction by Sandra Ott. Veyrin actually describes the lauburu, rather poetically, as a “Basque rose.”