Zubieta and Ituren

Yoalduna - Zenbat GaraThe yoaldunak are from the villages of Ituren and Zubieta in Nafarroa. The word yoalduna literally means, "he who has the bells" (yoaldunak is the plural). According to Urbeltz, the word Yoalduna has traditionally been used in the Basque pastoral tradition to refer to the lead animal in a herd (1994:228).The event that the yoaldunak participate in takes place on the first Monday and Tuesday following the last Sunday of January. This event consists of donning the costume described below and marching rhythmically for several kilometers to a neighboring town. In doing this they move in such a way that they cause the bells they are wearing around their waists to sound extremely loudly in unison. Their march is carried out in two lines and is initiated by the group from Zubieta. When this group is halfway between the villages, the group from Ituren sets out to join them. The subsequent visits to both villages involve communal suppers and collections of donations in the form of food and sometimes money from villagers. In the past, the participants did not remove their bells neither for meals nor for sleeping until the third day (Tiberio 1993:36). The group from Zubieta is led by a man in ordinary peasant clothing who carries a horn and a walking stick. He assists the yoaldunak in maintaining their rhythm. The yoaldunak are accompanied by a figure known as hartza, the bear. This bear consists of a young man dressed in sheep skins and wearing a ram’s head.

The yoalduna’s costume consists of blue pants, a colored scarf around the neck, and white shirt on top of which he wears a white cotton petticoat that falls to knee level, trimmed with lace and a ribbon. On top of this he either wears a sheepskin around his waist (Zubieta) or a sheepskin vest that covers the shoulders and back, as well (Ituren). Over the sheepskin, two large metal animal bells are tied firmly around his waist with rope so that they stand out parallel to the ground on his lower back. The bells are measured in liter capacity. In this case, each one has a capacity of 11 liters. Caro Baroja gives the dimension of these bells or polunpak as 36 cm. long and 28 cm. wide at their widest point (1984:264). The yoaldunak from Ituren also wear small animal bells on their upper backs attached to the sheepskin vest. The headdress is referred to as ttuntturoa and consists of a cardboard cone covered with fabric standing one half meter high decorated with multi-colored ribbons and a lace border. In the past, the ribbons were borrowed from households who had recently baptized a child. The headdress is topped with a plume of rooster feathers. In addition, each participant carries in his right hand a black horse mane fastened to a wooden handle with a strip of leather and brass tacks. In the past the yoaldunak wore a black cloth or mask covering their faces and altered the pitch of their voices to further transform their identities (Urbeltz 1994:230).

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