Lamia (Basque mythology)

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This article is about a creature from Basque mythology. For the figure from Greek mythology, see Lamia.
Basque lamina
Sculpture of a lamina in Garagartza, Arrasate, Gipuzkoa

The lamia (plural: lamiak) is a siren- or nereid-like creature in Basque mythology.[1][2] Lamiak, laminak or amilamiak live in the river. They are very beautiful, and stay at the shore combing their long hair with a golden comb; they easily charm men. They have duck feet.

In coastal areas, some believed that there were itsaslamiak in the sea, who had fish tails—a kind of mermaid.

Beliefs[edit]

Lamiak help those who give them presents by providing them with help at work; if a farmer left them food at the river shore, they would eat it at night and in exchange would finish a field he had left unploughed. In some places, bridges were believed to have been built at night by lamiak: Ebrain (Bidarray, Lower Navarre), Azalain (Andoain, Gipuzkoa), Urkulu (Leintz-Gatzaga, Gipuzkoa), Liginaga-Astüe (Labourd).

In some places lamiak had to go away if the bridge they were building at night was left unfinished at cockcrow. People believed that lamiak had left a river if a stone of the bridge was missing. Most lamiak disappeared when men built small churches in the forest.

A lamia is at the other side of the rainbow combing her hair. When the sun lights her hair, the rainbow opens.

In some places male lamiak also exist; they are strong and have built dolmens at night. Sometimes they can enter a house when its inhabitants are sleeping. They are given different names: Maideak, Mairiak, Mairuak, Intxixuak (in Oiartzun, (Gipuzkoa), Saindi Maidi (in Lower Navarre).

Many toponyms are related to lamiak: Lamikiz (Markina), Laminaputzu (in Zeanuri), Lamitegi (in Bedaio), Lamirain (in Arano), Lamusin (in Sare), Lamiñosin (in Ataun).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "lamia". Orotariko Euskal Hiztegia. Euskaltzaindia (Academy of the Basque Language). Retrieved 12 July 2012. 
  2. ^ Williams, Elena Arana (1989). "Basque Legends in their Social Context". Essays In Basque Social Anthropology And History. Basque Studies Program. pp. 119–120. Retrieved July 12, 2012.