Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Makhila in Aquarelle

These early 19th century watercolours (artist unknown) depict a Basque man with his makhila. 
The makhila is a traditional Basque walking stick, and is notable as both a practical tool and a cultural symbol of authority and strength.
The makila walking stick consists of an engraved medlar wood shaft cut to a length to suit its owner, generally either hipbone or sternum-height. The bottom is often shod with steel or other metal and ends in a ferrule (blunt spike for traction).
The handle is also often covered with metal or woven leather to form a hand-grip, with a lanyard attached to the bottom of this grip. The stick is capped with a flattened knob or pommel, made of horn, steel, or bronze. 
The top portion consisting of the knob and hand-grip can be pulled off the top of the stick, revealing a hidden spike or blade, which effectively turns the stick into a short spear. The pommel's shape resembles the beret worn by the Basque shepherd.

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