Laminak and Geniuses

One of the beings that appears most frequently in the stories are the Lamiñak (Lamin, Lamiñaku, Eilalamina, Latsari…), women with the feet of hens, goats or with a fish tail, living in caves or wells. They are often seen combing their hair with a precious (golden) comb and at the edge of streams, fountains or cave entrances. Those who are left with an offering overnight will help in the daily work.




Many are the legends which tell the stories of impossible love between captured lamiñak and handsome young men.

In some places we can distinguish between male and female lamiñak. It is said that the building of Christian hermitages in rural, deforested and mountainous areas, as well as public prayers, have contributed to their disappearance, although we continue to see them in many places, still with their faces so attractive.

Anyway, toponymy Basque is abundant in appellations that originate from the lamiñak: Lamiaran (valley of the lamiñak), Lamuxain (well of the lamiñak, Laminiturri (fountain of the lamiñak), Lamiñerreka (stream of the lamiñak) etc.

They are credited with carrying out certain works and constructions such as bridges: that of EBRAIN (Bidarrai in Lower Navarre, ARROSA (Arrosa in Lower Navarre), AZALAIN (Andoain in Gipuzkoa), URKULU (Gatzaga in Gipuzkoa)… dolmens: SORGINETXE ( Arrizala en Alaba), MAIRETXE (Mendive in Lower Navarre), and some house churches and castles.

It is also said that the Licq en Soule bridge was built by the lamiñak (see the legend).

Here is another version told by Jaureguiberri de Tardets (Soule):

“A long time ago, the lamiñak of the Letxarantzü hill undertook to build a bridge over the Gave de Licq. A difficult job if there is one. But is there something the Lamiñak can't do?

The night was very dark and they did not want to see or meet onlookers. They set to work quickly and silently in order to finish it before dawn. They climbed the arch of the bridge not from both sides simultaneously, like the men, but from one side and then from the second as they were used to doing.

There was a baker nearby and, as usual, just before dawn, he lit the oven. A young rooster in the henhouse, seeing this light, believed that the day was breaking and began to crow.

The lamiñak, with their stones in their arms, would adjust it to its place. When they heard the rooster's field, threw the stone at the bottom of the Gave then fled screaming in the dark.

Since that day, when the gave is low, everyone can see in the foundation, a large hole: This is the place that the last stone of the lamiñak was to occupy. "

In the thick forests one finds the BASAJAUN, BASOJAUN or ANXO, lord of the forests with the human body and long hair. It is a being of unusual strength and, depending on the version, can cause fear or devote itself to protecting the flocks of the shepherds. He has one foot like men's, and the other, on the other hand, is round. He is hairy from head to toe. When it walks in the surroundings, the wolf does not venture to approach it and the shepherds can sleep peacefully.

This description is prevalent in many accounts. Sometimes we talk about his wife, BASANDERE. Very close to this character, although different, the TARTALO or TORTO, a cyclops with terrifying behavior and cannibalistic habits.

Some of these many geniuses are nocturnal. This is the case of GAUEKO (he punishes all those who dare to challenge or underestimate the night), IELTXU or IRITXU (in the form of a bird or with a human face, he is recognizable by the fire that emerges from his mouth ), GAUARGI (genius in the form of light) and INGUMA (of an evil nature and preoccupied with entering homes to disturb its occupants).

There are many other elves, more or less mischievous and sympathetic (IRETXO, IRATXO, INTXISU, IRELTXU, GORRI TXIKI…) Likewise, the SORGIÑ is a nocturnal genius in the service of MARI, whose name will later serve as a designate witches.