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Lauburu Symbol – What Does It Mean?

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The Lauburu, also known as the ‘Basque Cross’, is an ancient symbol belonging to the Basque people, representing their unity, culture and identity. It’s also considered a symbol of prosperity and is strongly associated with the Celts, especially the Galicians.

The Lauburu symbol has been used for jewelry, graphic designs, clothing and tattoos. Let’s take a closer look at history of the Lauburu, what it means and its use in jewelry.

History of the Basque Cross

The Lauburu symbol was used in Basque Country in Spain for about 200 years BC. The symbol is similar to a cross but has four heads shaped like commas.

Its name ‘lauburu’  is actually two separate words – ‘lau’ meaning four and ‘buru’ meaning head. Some say that the heads represent the four regions of the Basque Country. The cross doesn’t appear in any of the coats of arms used by the Country but it is regarded as an important symbol.

After the Nerva-Antonine dynasty, there were no specimens of the Lauburu symbols to be found. However, at the end of the 16th century, it began to appear excessively as a decorative element used by the Basque people on tombs or in wooden chests.

Some people believed that this symbol had something to do with the swastika but in reality, there’s no connection between the two.

Basque cross bracelet

Basque cross bracelet made of woven cords by Happy Plage. See it here.

From then on, the Lauburu symbol continued to become increasingly popular among the Basque people, who began to display it over the doorway of their shops and homes.

They thought of the symbol as a kind of talisman of prosperity and believed that it would bring them success and provide them with protection.

Symbolism of the Lauburu

Lauburu necklace

Lauburu pendant by Ann Claridge. See it here.

The Lauburu symbol can be easily constructed using two compass settings, starting with the formation of a square. Each of the four heads can be drawn from the neighboring vertex of the square, and the radius of one will be half the length of the other.

Aside from representing the four regions of Basque country, the symbol is also said to represent the sun. It’s considered a good omen since the sun takes away the dark as well as the evil with it.

This is why the Basque people and Celts began to bear stone carvings of this symbol over their houses and workplaces. They believed the symbol would protect them from evil and bring them success and prosperity.

According to a certain Basque intellectual known as Imanol Mujica, the meaning of the symbol has a connection to the natural elements of the air, earth, water and fire. 

The Lauburu Symbol in Use Today

Gold plated Lauburu earrings

Gold-plated Lauburu earrings by Kalisman Bijoux. See them here.

Today, the Lauburu symbol continues to be popular not only among the Basque people and the Celts but also among others throughout the world, regardless of religion or culture.

It’s still used as a motif for decorating all kinds of things including doors, boxes, tombstones, wardrobes and jewelry.

There are also Lauburu symbols printed on garments, and worn as talismans and charms worn by those who wish to keep themselves and their families safe.

In Brief

The Lauburu remains an important symbol of the unity and identity of the Basque people. Although not many people know exactly where the symbol came from and what it symbolizes, it’s used in many different ways.

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