Children’s Games in the Basque Country is the result of ethnographic research done by a number of Etniker Euskalerria groups under the direction of Ander Manterola. This latest volume is the sixth contribution to the Ethnographical Atlas designed and commenced by José Miguel de Barandiaran. Volumes published to date are Home Food (1990, republished in 1999), Children’s Games (1993, republished in 2005), Funeral Rites (1995), Rites from Birth to Marriage (1998), Cattle and Sheep Farming (2000) and Popular Medicine (2004).
Like the other contributions planned for the Ethnographical Atlas, all six books published to date take a detailed look at different aspects of life in Vasconia. The work as a whole is designed to study traditional culture as recorded in the 20th century and the changes affecting it in that period.
Fieldwork was carried out in Vasconia, a region of Western Europe straddling the French and Spanish Pyrenees between the river Adour to the north and the Ebro to the south. Two administrations in the area are part of the Spanish state system (the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country and the neighbouring Charter Community of Navarra) and the other is part of the French Pyrénées Atlantiques département. Measuring some 20,531 square kilometres, Vasconia has a population of 2,900,728 (the 1999 census for French Vasconia and the 2001 census for Spanish Vasconia).
Surveys and field work were carried out in 79 separate towns throughout the provinces of Alava, Biscay, Gipuzkoa, Iparralde (Labourd, Basse-Navarre, Soule) and Navarre. The criteria used in selecting towns included the regional diversity of the territory being researched, and of fue rural, urban and coastal areas where the survey was conducted. The ethnographical questionnaire that was used can be found in the Guía para una encuesta etnográfica (Guide for an Ethnographical Survey, Chapter II, Household Group Uses), and specifically, use is made of questions that relate to children’s games (Questions II.30 to II.45).
Prepared and written up at the Ethnography Department of the Labayru Institute, the volume is based on the information obtained from the fieldwork and completed with bibliography. The contents of the publication deal with games and songs, convention and behaviour, sayings, and children’s traditions and rites.
Specifically, it covers the songs and games which grown-ups sing and play with children during the first few years of their lives, including nursery rhymes; games that children play with animals and plants in their natural environment; the standards and conventions which govern children’s playtime activity, as well as the relationships that are fostered among children; the procedures by which children who are going to take part in a game are selected; games that involve racing, hiding, jumping, balancing, throwing, and skill; games that are played using the hands and the fingers; rhythmic games, immitation games, talking games, guessing games, and games that are played on festive occasions. The book also covers hand made toys and collecting.
Each volume in the series includes an introduction explaining the project and the methodology used, plus information about the natural and human environment, geographical data of the places surveyed, references, together with a thematic and analytical index.