North American Basque Organizations
  A federation of organizations to sustain BASQUE culture


  Izan ziralako, gara, eta garalako izango dira  
"Because they were, we are, and because we are they will be"
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Happy New Year!

Feliz Navidad y
Prospero A
ño Nuevo!

Joyeux No
ël et
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ARGAZKIAK: NABO Touring Photo Exhibits

NABO in conjunction with the Basque Government has developed three different photographic exhibits: one is of Basque musical instruments, the second is on Basque traditional houses, and the third from the previous touring exhibit of Basque culture.

Photo Exhibit I:  Basque Musical Instruments

A musical instrument itself can be a beautiful object; it can have a complex and meaningful structure but apart from this it is nothing, it is lifeless.  An instrumentalist or player gives it life and they are the essential components of the musical instrument's being.  On the other hand, musical instruments and their players can offer music but they have to provide it for someone, in a certain place, and at a certain time, or it would make no sense.  This explains why there are three components involved:  musical instruments, the players, and the environment or atmosphere for the music. 

This photographic exhibition includes some impressive photographs of traditional Basque musical instruments.

This exhibit will debut at the NABO Convention in Chino, CA (Aug. 2008).  Then after that, it will be rotated over time to different Basque communities.

Click on Soinu tresnak pamphlet (pdf)

In Euskal Herria one of the most important components of popular culture is its music. Today, in many fields, it is kept alive and in good health, being one of the most noteworthy characteristics or signs of our own culture, between Basques and the world at large. 

There are many elements that shape the music. The most notable: the sound, rhythm, harmony and timbre.  But without any doubt, those who have influenced the particulars of music of each people, have been the musical instruments used in their interpretation.  All instruments are in form and in its operation aspects and universal characteristics.  All over the world are known instruments for a site and another that are similar, but is also true that the tools used in popular music, besides being universal, and components have characteristics that make them individuals and indigenous.


Photo Exhibit II:  Basque traditional homes

This photographic exposition is a sample of the architecture found in the type of traditional Basque dwelling, and is suggestive of the strength, enthusiasm and the enterprising capacity of the Basque people.

The traditional Basque home has undergone numerous variations between the 16th century and our days, but it has always maintained certain common elements that define each region of the Basque country: houses located in the region of Zuberoa tend to be very austere, closed-in, lacking in ornamentation and with smooth rocks on the facade, while ones found in Bizkaia are quite open, with balconies stretching along their entire length and very elaborate structures of wood and masonry found at the ends.

Although some opinions suggest otherwise, these buildings are not poor or popular constructions.  On the contrary, they were built with the most advanced techniques known at the time, as demonstrated by the manner of working the stone and the wood, two of their most basic elements.

Generally, in the oldest dwellings, the ground floor was occupied by the kitchen and bedrooms, separate from the stable area, although all these elements were in very close proximity.  However, with the passage of time, the living quarters came to occupy the first floor.  Many variations exist in this format.

The typology of the main entrance is also diverse: in regions close to the sea, due to the more mild climate, the entryway is an open space understood to be a meeting place, while in the area of the Pyrenees, there is no such space. 
The roof is gabled, with the ridge being perpendicular to the facade and with a southern orientation. 

There is no one "typical" Basque home because of the regional variations.  In the part of Zuberoa closer to the Pyrenees, they have double slopes on the roofs because of the snowfall.  In the area near the Cantabrian region, the roof can have up to three slopes.

The way that the wood frameworks are treated is another very characteristic point that can be appreciated in this exhibit.  In Goizueta (Nafarroa) these works take on maximum importance, as their construction coincided with times of economic plenty.  The exposition reflects all of these characteristics, helping to broaden our understanding of this type of building which served as the core or central unifying element of traditional Basque society--the "Etxea."

Click on Baserria pamphlet (pdf)

Photo Exhibit III:  Basque culture

This exhibition first debuted in 2006 and it has traveled to several Basque communities.   Photographs include captions that serve as a means of informing  the viewer about various aspects of Basque culture.


LEGEBILTZARRA. For most of their existence, Basques have been a nation without a state.  For a time during the medieval period there was the Kingdom of Nafarroa (Navarre) that embraced all seven historic territories, but self-determination was limited under a Basque monarch and soon this kingdom was split by the emerging national powers of Spain and France.  Then in the 1930s in the hegoalde (south side) of Euskal Herria there was another successful endeavor by three of the territories (Araba, Bizkaia & Gipuzkoa) to form their own government, but alas Franco's victory in the Spanish Civil War ended this brief foray.  With Franco's death in the 1970s, Spain embarked on another experiment in democracy.  Those same three territories that joined together a generation before re-launched their effort of autonomy and today call themselves Euskadi.  While the optimum relationship between the autonomous region of Euskadi and the Spanish federal government in Madrid continues to be negotiated, Euskadi has forged ahead.  This photograph of the Basque Parliament in the capital of Vitoria-Gastiez is where democratically elected representatives meet regularly to work on legislation for the autonomous region of Euskadi.

Below are thumbnail images (click to enlarge) of the various panels in this exhibit.

For Basque culture to endure we'll need to find a viable balance between the fun of being Basque (e.g., festivals) and knowing something more about what being Basque is about.  That is why NABO is following the motto Recreate + Educate = Perpetuate

The educate part of the equation is being developed in our GUREA Cultural Literacy program.  Gurea is Basque for "it's ours."



Recreate + Educate = Perpetuate is the website of the North American Basque Organizations, Inc. (N.A.B.O.) a federation of organizations for the promotion of Basque culture. Helping to make this website possible is the Basque Autonomous Government of Euskadi.  Please send inquiries to  For links to all our pages on this website click on SITEMAP