Casa y familia en Vasconia (House and Family in the Basque Country) is the result of ethnographic research by the Etniker Euskalerria groups directed by Ander Manterola. The book is the seventh contribution to the Ethnographic Atlas designed and launched by José Miguel de Barandiaran. Previous publications are Food At Home (1990, republished 1999), Children’s Games (1993), Funeral Rites (1995), Rites: From Birth To Marriage (1998), Livestock and Grazing (2000) and Popular Medicine (2004).
The Ethnographic Atlas looks at people in Vasconia from the viewpoint of traditional culture as recorded throughout the 20th and the early years of the 21st century, and attempts to gauge the transformations affecting that culture.
Fieldwork was performed in what we call Vasconia, on the western edge of Europe, which occupies an area from the French river Adour in the north to the Spanish river Ebro in the south. Part of Vasconia is in Spain (the regions of the Basque Country and Navarra) and part in the French Department of the Atlantic Pyrenees. In all, it covers 20,531 square kilometres with a population of 3,099,723 (2010 census for Spanish Vasconia and 2008 for French Vasconia).
Research was done in eighty-seven towns and villages in the provinces of Álava (14), Biscay (16), Guipúzcoa (17) and the region of Navarra (27) in Spain and Basse Navarre (9), Labourd (Lapurdi in Basque) (2) and Soule (Zuberoa) (2) in France. Criteria for selecting the villages and towns surveyed took account of the regional diversity of the target territory and the type of zone (rural, urban or coastal) where the fieldwork was to be carried out. The ethnographic questionnaire used features in the Guide for an ethnographic survey (chapters I. and II. Domestic group and Domestic group habits and customs) published by Barandiaran in 1974 and corresponds specifically to the questions referring to House (questions 11 to 36), Family (105 to 121), Husbandand-wife relations (122 to 133), all from chap. I, and Furniture in the house (questions 1 to 14) from chap. II.
The work was collated and written up at the Department of Ethnography at the Labayru Institute. The content is based primordially on the data obtained during fieldwork on traditional rural houses and their accompanying furniture and goods; even so, houses in urban areas and fishermen’s houses were not excluded. Although this is an ethnographic rather than an architectural study, the buildings themselves are also taken into account. Also provided is a study of the family living there, because research work is about life, not empty spaces; houses fulfil a function and are organized to respond principally to an agricultural and cattle-breeding and tending lifestyle.
In all, the book has twenty-one chapters. After the foreword, the book opens with three chapters on the different types of population settlement in the area, the relation between house and land, climate and activity, and the denomination, orientation and situation of the houses themselves.
The next six chapters deal with the structure of the house. The first describes models of houses in a representative number of districts in each region, the following three provide a detailed analysis of roofs, foundations and walls and doors and windows. The subsequent chapter deals with internal distribution, including house-plans, to end with interior ornaments and the like.
Subjects include the hearth as the centre of the house and family life, the kitchen and lighting systems. Other themes specifically dealt with include household goods, furniture and furnishings in living-rooms bedrooms and bathrooms, cleaning the house, clothes and crockery. One chapter is devoted to additional outbuildings around the house and the areas set aside for agricultural and cattle work. The rites performed around the home fire and the house’s protective symbols are dealt with in separate chapters.
Five sections focusing on the family describe kinship, family goods and assets and the ways they are handed down, the life and functions of the married couple and family honour and ways of defending it.
Like the previous volumes, this book has an introduction explaining the project and methodology used, the data on the natural and human environment, geographical information about the places surveyed, references and thematic and analytical indexes.