Makila, the Basque walking stick
Since 1980, the independent artisan Iñaki Alberdi has dedicated his life to the production of the makila, a traditional yet regal walking stick. Throughout his childhood, Iñaki spent hours watching both his father and older brother work with wood. As as result, his life shares a special connection with this material. Iñaki eventually grew to realize that while the tradition of creating makilas still existed in the northern part of the Basque Country, it had almost entirely disappeared from the southern part. After years of hard work, Iñaki succeeded in reviving the makila, one of the most ancient symbols of Basque culture. In 1991, Guipuzcoa’s Chamber of Commerce, Industry, and Navigation officially recognized Iñaki for his efforts to enrich and preserve the Basque cultural heritage. Nowadays, his son, Beñat, maintains the tradition, representing the third generation of Alberdi artisans.
Joxe Alberdi, Iñaki’s father, founded the Alberdi workshop in Irun in 1948. He was a dedicated woodcarver and sculptor and began the tradition of making makilas. The workshop is located in the family home and is equipped with various vises, some for wood and others for metal casings. It has many shelves to store wooden branches for use in crafting the makila. The workshop houses Beñat’s many tools such as the emery, welding items, different kinds of punchers, hammers, various metal files, rasps, chisels, and more.