ensenari_txapela.jpg (5355 bytes) kantiniersa_hat.jpg (4801 bytes)

Zuberoako Maskaradak

txerrero_txapela.jpg (5178 bytes) gatuzain_txapela.jpg (4204 bytes)
ZamalzainOne of the most distinctive traditions in the Basque Country is Zuberoako Maskaradak.  The Maskaradak consist of song, dance, and acting in an event that lasts several hours.  The main dancers are the five characters seen here, the Zamalzain, Kantiniersa, Gatuzain, Txerrero, and Ensenari.  The maskaradak take place during ihauteriak or carnival.  These ritual dances represent the Basque pre-classic style and are made up of combinations of precise steps which require strength and agility.  Perhaps the most famous dance of  the Maskaradak is Godalet Dantza in which each dancer successively dances around a glass of wine, sometimes dancing on top of it.
To see images from the Maskaradak in Gotaine (2000) click here.

Today this celebration takes place before Lent and has become linked to the Christian calendar.  This yearly event, however, stems from a pre-Christian tradition of preventing disease and plague by purging the locale of evil and, according to Urbeltz (2000), dangerous insects that had the potential to wreak havoc in an agricultural peasant society.  Other interpretations revolve around ritual to hasten the coming of spring and provoke abundance.  These two interpretations are not necessarily incompatible.

Zuberoa - late eighteenth centuryIn addition to these ritual dances, there are also several participatory dances from Zuberoa including kontra dantzak or quadrilles, Branlea, and makil dantzak, or stick dances.  For these, dancers wear costumes which represent clothing worn for special occasions during the late eighteenth century.   Click on the image at the left to see a larger version.

Back to Top

Images on this and other Cyber Dantza pages Copyright © 2001  Lisa Corcostegui