Makila txikiena
Makila handiena
Uztai txikiena
Uztai handiena
Doinu zaharrak
Punta motz
Ehun eta bikoa

Bullet1 We do not know when the ezpatadantza began to be danced in Gipuzkoa. Researchers have discovered documents referring to ezpatadantzas being danced in different towns in Gipuzkoa from the 17th century onwards. The ezpatadantzas of Tolosa, Legazpia, San Sebastian, Segura and Zumarraga are thus documented in the 17th century. The Diccionario Histórico-Geográfico del País Vasco contains the following explanation about the dances that were danced in Gipuzkoa.
“There are others apart from this common dance, such as the sword dance during the festivities of the Corpus Christi and the patron saints of the villages. In 1660, when Felipe IV attended the Corpus Christi procession in San Sebastian, 100 men danced this sword dance. A Basque. distich is still preserved that expresses this type of dance, and goes::
Carlos quintoren baratzan
Aquerrak espata dantzan.”

Bullet1 Manuel de Larramendi and Juan Ignacio Iztueta has left us two splendid descriptions of the ezpatadantza. In Manuel de Larramendi’s book entitled Corografia de Guipuzcoa and published in 1754, the Guipuzkoan polygraph writes the following about this dance:

“I do not believe that the espatadanza, or sword dance is practised anywhere. It had to be performed in Castile at some time, because Cervantes refers to it and the ingenious Don Quijote saw a sword dance, among other entertainments at Camacho's wedding, and according to the description, it is the same that still exist in Guipuzkoa, even though it has been forgotten in Castile. Twenty, or thirty, or sixty men enter into the dance, with long, bare swords, or unsheathed, and with the tips blunted or with burlap. They are well dressed, with good breeches, stocking and shoes, with a very white shirt and white caps on their heads. They move forward in four lines, which are very long due to the swords that are held out between the dancers. The person who guides has to direct two points to the left and two to the right, which are the four lines that follow him. The last four hold their bright and unsheathed swords, and hold them with bright white fabric wrapped around the hilt and hand guard, because they have to demonstrate their endurance and skill when handling them, when it comes to their turn. They all dance to the music that is played and chosen for that dance, even though some others are played. When they have to retrace their steps, for example, in a street, they do not turn around, and then the tangled swords has to be seen, together with the bridge or arch that are formed by the dancers as they move from one side to the other as they follow their lines under the bridge until, after they have all gone through, the dance is in the same order and lines as before. The move is performed on the signal given by the leader directing the dances. The signal is when he raises the four tips that he carries in his hands, two in each, and then the first dancers on each side go backwards and watching the order with which the move is performed.

There are sometimes a total of four lines and other times just one that, using the aforementioned tangle or arch, moves up towards the altar, or person or place that they wish to honour. Once there, the last dancer, separate from the others with a partner, whose sword he holds by its tip with his left hand and with his right hand lifts his sword up, dances by himself to the rhythm of the music being played. Then as the music speeds up, he begins to brandish the sword while continuing to move to the feet. The set follows the music and the sword is brandished to the right and to the left, and low cross slashes towards his partner, and turning round to the auditorium on the other person’s sword and then brandishing with the same lively, fast movements, so that the sword could hardly be seen. The other three last dancers then perform the same sequence. Yet some of them, more courageous and skilful, take two swords in both hands, and after the introduction with their feet, they brandish both swords, first to the right and then to the left, and then both, then upright, then crossing them, without either touching, and always to the rhythm to the music."
Bullet1 Juan Ignacio Iztueta also paid special attention to the ezpatadantza in his 1824 book, Gipuzkoako dantza gogoangarrien kondaira edo historia, where he described how the ezpatadanza was danced to mark the visits of the monarchs, during the Corpus Christi processions and during the local festivities. According Iztueta, each dantzari kept a sword in his house:
“Until 30 years ago, there was a custom in Gipuzkoa for each married man to carefully keep a very old long sword in his house and to take it to the town hall on the morning of Corpus Christi".
Bullet1 Nonetheless, Iztueta repeatedly pointed out they were losing the custom of dancing the ezpatadantza was dying out and was only then danced on Corpus Christi.
“In the noble city of San Sebastián, the honourable ezpatadantza every day during Corpus Christi and the dance is also performed in Andoain. However, even the name was forgotten in the majority of other municipalities until the monarchs and their lofty entourage crossed this beloved land and then Gipuzkoa, our beloved motherland, order [her children] to honour them by performing this unforgettable dance. And then the tangles, breathing and work of so many have to be seen as they are unable to raise one of those ancient swords and they had no idea of what the ezpatadantza is about".

Bullet1 Aware of this loss, the master from Zaldibitarra includes detailed instructions on how to correctly perform the ezpatadantza. In 1828, in other words, four years after Iztueta’s book was published, Ferdinand VII crossed Gipuzkoa on one of his travels and was welcomed in various Gipuzkoan towns along his route. Juan Antonio Urbeltz unearthed documents referring to those acts of homage and they show that the majority of towns paid tribute to the monarch by performing the ezpatadantza in his honour: "a group of dancers from Pordones" performed in Tolosa, "sixty dancers with dress swords and brightly dressed" in Billabona and Andoain; “the group of ezpatadantzaris consisting of fifty energetic labourers first of all performed the ancient sword dance" in San Sebastian; "twenty of the most skilful sword dancers” performed in Ordizia, Beasin, Ormaiztegi, Zumarraga, Urretxu, Legazpia, Antzuola, Bergara, Soraluze and Eibar.

Bullet1 At the start of the 20th century, José Lorenzo Pujana, the dance master, taught the sword dance to numerous dantzaris. The custom of performing the ezpatadantza has lasted right down to present times in some towns where he taught, for example, in Añorga.