Europe

Strange masks from Basque country

Q: Hi, I am Basque from the Spanish Basque Country, do you know anything about Basque masks? We have some in our traditions. Fernando, 1563

A: I know nothing about Basque masks. So I looked around the internet and found these four crazy masks from the the appropriate region of Northern Spain. All four seem to be photographed at local carnivals. Perhaps you could do some research, and maybe one of our viewers will have something to contribute as well.

3 Comments

  • Aaron Fellmeth

    There are some great masquerades in Basque country. As in many countries, masks in Spain vary from town to town, with each town having its own archetypes. The best survey of Spanish (and Portuguese) masquerade is unfortunately only available in Spanish:

    Oscar J. González, Mascaradas de la peninsula ibérica (2014)

    It describes and depicts many if not all of the masquerading traditions of Basque country, as well as everywhere else in the Iberian peninsula. If you read Spanish, the book is a treasure trove of culture.

  • Bob Ibold

    Thanks for the helpful comment. I went to 2nd Face but couldn’t find any Basque masks. If you have one would you send a scan with comments and I’ll post it.

    • Aaron Fellmeth

      Hi, Bob,

      Masks like those don’t circulate on any market anywhere in the world. I’ve never been to Euskadi, so the Museum’s collection does not yet include any. We are planning an expedition to the French Basque country, probably in 2021, to film a Basque masquerade and possibly acquire one for the collection. The problem is that frequently there is only a single masked character in Basque masquerades (Basquerades?), and that mask and costume belong to the village rather than any one person. For reasons you can well imagine, they would not part with it under any circumstances.

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