Lauburu is an ancient Basque symbol that is believed to be representative of the Basque identity, culture and unity. In the Basque language, Euskara, it literally translates to ‘four (lau) heads (buru). The icon is generally considered a symbol of prosperity, but it lends itself to several interpretations that have religious, cosmic, philosophical and naturalistic meanings.
Some intellects associate it with the Christian Cross and believe it to symbolize the eternal circle of life. As a sign of mankind, the four heads of the Lauburu are said to be indicative of the four states in which man exists, namely physical, mental, emotional and perceptual. It represents the four fundamental human elements – Form or Density, Life or Vitality, Sensibility and Conscience.
According to another interpretation, the symbol is believed to correspond to the four cardinal directions. It is also supposed to indicate natural phenomenon like the four essential natural elements, and the revolution of the Earth around the Sun that results in the four seasons. The vertical heads of the Lauburu are also called sunset and considered as symbolic of the elements of water and fire. The horizontal heads are called sunrise and represent the elements of earth and air.
The Lauburu symbol can be depicted in two forms. With the heads turned right, it is in a positive form that is representative of life, creation and good fortune and can be found as a decorative motif in Basque carpentry and construction. With the heads turned left, it assumes a negative form that symbolizes death, destruction and misfortune and as such, finds use on tombstones.