MAKILA

THE TRADITIONAL BASQUE STICK

The makila is the walking stick of the Basque people and it functions as a good travel companion or as a symbol of authority and respect.

It is both elegant and sophisticated, made entirely by hand, through a process that has not changed for centuries.

Incisions are made to the wild medlar tree while still in the forest which, over time, form the characteristic markings of the makila. The branch is cut in the winter, then the bark is removed in the oven before being dyed in quicklime (calcium oxide), and finally straighted with heat. Once the stick is ready, the bottom part is covered with a brass or silver casing and is carefully engraved by hand with Basque symbols. The upper part is typically adorned with a horn grip attached to a braided leather sleeve and screwed onto the base. In the case of the so-called makila of honor, the grip is made entirely of silver or brass. It is customary to give the makila to someone worthy of honor or distinction. For example, the makila is an appropriate gift for retirements, weddings, birthdays, and any other personal or professional event. Although it is available to all those who deserve one, the makila has found itself in the hands of kings, popes, politicians, artists, athletes, etc. Among the more significant figures to receive one of the Alberdi makilas are the Lehendakaris (presidents of the Basque Country).

The makila is the walking stick of the Basque people and it functions as a good travel companion or as a symbol of authority and respect.

It is both elegant and sophisticated, made entirely by hand, through a process that has not changed for centuries.

Incisions are made to the wild medlar tree while still in the forest which, over time, form the characteristic markings of the makila. The branch is cut in the winter, then the bark is removed in the oven before being dyed in quicklime (calcium oxide), and finally straighted with heat. Once the stick is ready, the bottom part is covered with a brass or silver casing and is carefully engraved by hand with Basque symbols. The upper part is typically adorned with a horn grip attached to a braided leather sleeve and screwed onto the base. In the case of the so-called makila of honor, the grip is made entirely of silver or brass. It is customary to give the makila to someone worthy of honor or distinction. For example, the makila is an appropriate gift for retirements, weddings, birthdays, and any other personal or professional event. Although it is available to all those who deserve one, the makila has found itself in the hands of kings, popes, politicians, artists, athletes, etc. Among the more significant figures to receive one of the Alberdi makilas are the Lehendakaris (presidents of the Basque Country).

Parts of the makila

The Handle

The handle was originally made of ox horn, but now it is made of various animal horns or other materials.

The Upper Casing

The upper casing connects the handle to the braided leather sleeve and is engraved with symbols and typical Basque phrases chosen by the client.

The Grip

In order to make the grip, the artisan uses strips of goatskin leather and braids it around a tube. In the case of the makila of honor, the grip does not have this leather but rather is made entirely of silver or brass.

The Hidden Tip

The tip is hidden within the grip and is made of stainless steel.

The Lower Casing

A metal casing is placed on the lower part of the makila where the artisan engraves typical Basque symbols.

The Wood

The wood from the medlar tree is covered in unique markings. This wood is special in that after the artisan marks it, the wood heals to form scar-like etchings definitive of the makila.

The Tip

The tip of the makila is made of steel.

Dedications

On the upper casing, there is a space for phrases or sayings that the client can request. These engravings are intended to be brief but meaningful. Over time, some phrases have become more popular while others stand out for their originality. The following dedications can be found on a makila:

Hitza hitz

– My word is my promise

Hitzemana zor

– What is promised is owed

Ihes etsaiak

– Enemies be gone

Nerekin beti zuzen

– Our path is straight and narrow

Nere bideko laguna

– The partner of my travels

Nerekin inoren beldur

– Together we are fearless

Nere laguna eta laguntza

– My friend and helper