Friday, March 31, 2017


A baserri  is a traditional half-timbered or stone-built type of house/barn farmhouse found in the Basque Country in Northern Spain and Southwestern France.
The baserris, with their gently sloping roofs and entrance portals, are highly characteristic of the region and form a vital part in traditional Basque societal structures. They are also seen to have played an important role in protecting the Basque language in periods of persecution by providing the language with a very dispersed but substantial speaker base.
The term baserri is derived from the roots basa "wild" and herri "settlement" and denotes a farmstead not located in a village or town. People who live on a baserri are referred to as baserritarrak, a term which contrasts with kaletarrak (street people), i.e., people who live in a town or city.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Basque Variations

Even in the small area that makes up Euskal Herria (the Basque Country), only 7,234 km2 (2,793 sq mi), there are variations in how to wear your txapela (beret) per region.
In Bizkaia berets are worn straight, flat on the head. In the province of Gipuzkoa, berets are worn slightly inclined while the traditional Basque peasants tend to wear it radically inclined.
But not just the way the beret is worn, also it's plateau or flight (diameter) changes per región:
Bizkaia : 12.5 (291mm)
Gipuzkoa 12 (279mm)
Araba Álava 12 (279mm)
Navarra : 13 (302mm)
Basque : 11.5 (267mm).
That is, of course, not counting the traditional txapelduns worn in the mountains. 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


Russian tractors at the Hajnal cooperative. 1956
Tractorist, 1956 Oradea Square, opposite the Üllői 121st, Budapest, Hungary

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Hitler's Madman

Hitler's Madman is a 1943 World War II film about the assassination of Nazi Reinhard Heydrich and the Lidice massacre revenge taken by the Germans.
The shooting of Hitler's Madman took place late in 1942 and early 1943. Sirk hired German cinematographer Eugen Schüfftan to shoot the film, but since he was not allowed in the United States at the time, the credit was instead given to Jack Greenhalgh.
It is a somewhat fictionalized account of the destruction of the village of Lidice in Czechoslovakia and the events leading up to it. In 1942, the Allies parachuted a Czech resistance fighter into the area. He quickly reunites with his former girlfriend and many of the villagers who knew him from before the war. The Nazis are evil and under the command of Reinhardt Heydrich rule the country with an iron fist, arbitrarily arresting innocents and charging them with fictitious crimes. 
When Heydrich is severely wounded in a roadside attack - he dies three days later - Henrich Himmler orders the destruction of Lidice. The men are herded into a church which is set aflame and the women are sent to concentration camps. The town itself is leveled.

Monday, March 27, 2017


I am, to the horror of my daughters, a great fan of corduroy workwear and, no surprise, so are many French and Spanish beret wearing workers.
Corduroy is a textile composed of twisted fibres that, when woven, lie parallel (similar to twill) to one another to form the cloth's distinct pattern, a "cord." Modern corduroy is most commonly composed of tufted cords, sometimes exhibiting a channel (bare to the base fabric) between the tufts. Corduroy is, in essence, a ridged form of velvet.
The fabric looks as if it is made from multiple cords laid parallel to each other and then stitched together. The word corduroy is from cord and duroy, a coarse woollen cloth made in England in the 18th century. 
The interpretation of the word as corde du roi (from French, the cord of the King) is a folk etymology.
Corduroy is a durable cloth, found in the construction of trousers, jackets and shirts. The width of the cord is commonly referred to as the size of the "wale" (i.e. the number of ridges per inch). The lower the "wale" number, the thicker the width of the wale (e.g., 4-wale is much thicker than 11-wale). 
Corduroy’s wale count per inch can vary from 1.5 to 21, although the traditional standard falls somewhere between 10 and 12. Wide wale is more commonly used in trousers and furniture upholstery (primarily couches); medium, narrow, and fine wale fabrics are usually found in garments worn above the waist.
My personal favourites come from Le Laboureur; fantastic clothes that lasts a lifetime. 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Alfred Tibor

Holocaust survivor and sculptor Alfred Tibor died one week ago on 18 March.
Tibor was born Alfred Goldstein in Konyar, Hungary in 1920. Denied formal training because of his Jewish faith, he taught himself gymnastics in high school. "The more they were pushing me down and degrading me, the more I wanted to be better than others," he said. "I wanted to prove it: I am not a dirty Jew; I am a boy, and I have ambition." 
Tibor eventually qualified for the Hungarian team for the 1936 Summer Olympics, but when he went to register for the team, he was denied when the team discovered he was Jewish. Tibor was not allowed to compete as a member of the Hungarian team in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. "I was kicked out. I was kicked out because I was Jewish," Tibor said. "That time, the sky was falling apart."
In 1940 Tibor was forced to be a slave laborer for a Hungarian Army labor battalion. Eventually he was captured by the Soviet Army and spent six years as a prisoner in a Siberian prison camp. Of the 273 men in his labor battalion sent to the prisoner-of-war camp, he was only one of two to survive.
After his release (in 1947!), he worked for nine years as a government exhibition designer. In 1956, two months after the Hungarian Revolution, he fled the country with his wife and two children because he feared a return of anti-Semitic sentiment. They emigrated to the United States in 1957, where he worked as a commercial artist in Miami for 16 years until moving to Columbus, Ohio, to pursue sculpture full-time.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Maria Lapiedra

A big surprise at the Catalan Parliament. 
Camping outside Parliament in support of the Law of Declaration Independence were Mary Lapiedra, independent porn actress and media activist Jimmy Jump. "We want independence!" They cried in chorus against a little over a hundred people participating in the concentration.
Both wearing, of course, the Catalan barretina (even if nothing much else). 

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Béret Vrai Basque Chasseur Ardennais

Bad news for the fans of the béret Vrai Basque Chasseur ArdennaisLike other vintage labels that Laulhère had reinstated for South Pacific Berets (like the Bortia, Chirola, Etchea, l'Aiglon, etc), Laulhère has decided not to continue the manufacturing of these historical berets (believe me, I did try to persuade them, but to no avail...).
The béret Vrai Basque is a very old model that has been in continious production by, interestingly,two manufacturers (and big competitors): Blancq-Olibet and Laulhère. With the takeover of B.-O. in 2014, Laulhère got the sole ownership of the label and continues to offer this beret in their higher end quality range, but... only in black and navy.
The Vrai Basque has been used by the Belgian Mountain Infantry Regiment 'Chasseurs Ardennais' since early last century and I was able to offer these berets to the public till now. Obviously, Laulhère continues to supply the Belgian military, but that's it.
The good news however, is that I have a limited number of these berets still in stock in sizes 56-59 and 63 and better still, three pieces of the vintage model in loden-green (instead of the later 'vert nocturne') in sizes 57 and 58 only.
Pictured here is the uniform of a Captain in the Chasseur Ardennais as in May 1940 (3rd Regiment, 1st Company, who fought in Chabrehez "Les Tailles"). The weapon is the MP34 Schmeisser-Bergmann-Bayard.
Notice the dark colour of his beret, the same dark green shade as the collar badges and very different from later models. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Eliot Cowan

Eliot Cowan (1946) is an American-born healer, teacher, author, and founder of the alternative healing technique known as Plant Spirit Medicine.
He received a degree in Anthropology from Pomona College and pursued post-graduate study in documentary filmmaking at UCLA. In 1970, while living on a farm in Vermont, he became distraught because one of his goats was sick. Unwilling to accept a "hopeless" diagnosis from a veterinarian, he began to read about herbalism and treated the goat with a plant. The goat healed, and Cowan's work in Herbalism began.
After a number of years practicing acupuncture, he came across an article on the Huichol Indians of the Mexican Sierras. The article caused him to travel to Mexico and meet them. A series of dreams, encounters and experiences guided him to apprentice with Don Guadalupe Gonzalez Rios, an eminent Huichol shaman. In the year 2000, Cowan was ritually recognized by Don Guadalupe as a guide to shamanic apprentices in the Huichol tradition. As of 2011, twenty-five of Eliot Cowan's apprentices have gone on to become shamans in the Huichol tradition.
In addition to teaching, lecturing, healing and training of shamanic apprentices on the Huichol path, one of Cowan's most significant contributions is his synthesis of shamanism, traditional Chinese Medicine and Herbalism into the healing technique known as Plant Spirit Medicine. Cowan is Founder and Board Chair of the Blue Deer Center in the New York Catskills, and is Elder Emeritus of the Plant Spirit Medicine Seminary. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Jürgen Schadeberg

Jürgen Schadeberg was born in Berlin in 1931. In 1950, he moved to South Africa to re-join his family and joined Drum magazine as official photographer and layout artist.
Schadeberg became a teacher and mentor to some of the most creative South African photographers of his time, like Bob Gosani, Ernest Cole and later Peter Magubane. As one of the few white photographers who photographed daily life among the black community, he became knowledgeable about black life and culture. As a result, he captured on film the beginnings of the freedom movement, the effects of apartheid and the vibrancy of township life.
Schadeberg photographed many historic and pivotal events in the 1950s among them the Defiance Campaign of 1952, the 1956 Treason Trial, the Sophiatown removals of 1955, the Sophiatown jazz and social scene, the Sharpeville funeral of 1960 and pictures of Robben Island inmates. Some of the famous people he photographed include Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, Trevor Huddleston and Govan Mbeki. He also documented the Fifties jazz legends such as Dolly Rathebe, Kippie Moeketsi, Thandi Klaasen and Miriam Makeba.
He was forced to leave South Africa in 1964 and went to London. Here he taught and curated photographic exhibitions, notably for the Whitechapel Art Gallery.
He then moved to Spain where he concentrated on a career as an artist. In 1972, he returned to Africa where he accepted a position as photographer for Christian Aid in Botswana and Tanzania.

In 1984, Schadeberg returned to South Africa. He continues to work as a photo-journalist as well as making documentaries about the black community.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Jonas Mosa Gwangwa

Dedicated boinero Jonas Mosa Gwangwa (born 1941 in Orlando East, Soweto) has been an important figure in South African jazz for over 40 years. He first gained significance playing trombone with The Jazz Epistles. After the group broke up he continued to be important to the South African music scene and then later abroad.
In the 1960s he began to gain notice in the United States and in 1965 he was featured in a "Sound Of Africa" concert at Carnegie Hall. Others at the concert included Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, and Letta Mbulu. Not liked by the apartheid government, he left his homeland in the early 1970s.
From 1980 to 1990 he was the leader of Amandla, the cultural ensemble of the African National Congress.
In later life he became important as a composer doing the scores of films like Cry Freedom and at the 60th Annual Academy Awards in 1988 he performed his nominated song Cry Freedom. Also in 1988 he performed at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute in Wembley Stadium. In 1991 he returned to South Africa and in 1997 he composed the theme for their Olympic bid.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Beret Tee's

My good friend and artist Adrian Castle (many of you will have seen his work here on The Beret Project or on fridge magnets) developed some really nice beret themed T-shirts.
Good quality, nicely fitted Tees with, for the time being, two great beret themed prints.
The Tee's come in a massive range of colour options and sell at $20.00 only. Have a look here:

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Miguel de la Quadra-Salcedo y Gayarre

Miguel de la Quadra-Salcedo y Gayarre (1932 - 2016) was a Spanish reporter and one of the greatest athletes of the country.
Although he was born in Madrid, he has always been recognized as Basque-Navarre (and often spotted with a good sized txapela.
He was one of the great reporters of RTVE during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. During the African wars in the 60’s, he was condemned to death for filming of 300 prisoners in Congo. He covered the coup d’état against Allende, the Vietnam war and lived with indigenous people in Amazonia. 
He was the director and founder of cultural program Aventura 92 (Adventures 92), nowadays named as Ruta Quetzal BBVA.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Gunnar Sønsteby

Gunnar Fridtjof Thurmann Sønsteby DSO was a member of the Norwegian resistance movement during the German occupation of Norway in World War II. He is also known for being the most highly decorated citizen in Norway, including being the only person to have been awarded the War Cross with three swords, Norway's highest military decoration.
Norway's regular armed forces surrendered on 10 June 1940, after two months of fighting, and the country was subsequently occupied by the Germans. Sønsteby then became involved in the underground resistance, both through Milorg and the illegal press. In 1942 he became "Agent 24" in the Special Operations Executive. After saboteur training in England in 1943, he became the contact for all SOE agents in eastern Norway and head of the Norwegian Independent Company 1 group in Oslo. This group performed several spectacular acts of sabotage; among them smuggling out plates for the printing of Norwegian kroner from the Norwegian Central Bank and blowing up the office for Norwegian forced labour, thereby stopping the Nazis' plan of sending young Norwegian men to the Eastern Front.
Operating in occupied territory, and being high on the Gestapo list of wanted men, Sønsteby became a master of disguise. 
In 2008 Sønsteby was the first non-American awarded the United States Special Operations Command Medal. Gunnar Sønsteby died May 10, 2012.