The Basque farm cart or gurdi has been widely studied by ethnographers including Aranzadi, Caro Baroja, Barandiaran, etc. Many travellers were struck by the squeaking of the wheels and it is often known as the squealing cart. The gurdi has two solid wheels (gurpilak) joined by an axle or ardatza made of beech wood. This was attached to the bed of the cart by two pieces called gurditxinelak. The irregularly-shaped ends of the shaft were inserted into the hubs of the wheels. The wheels were narrow, with iron rims. As a result, they were banned from running on cobbled (and later tarmac) paths because of the damage they caused. Solid wheels were replaced by tyres in the twentieth century.
The squealing (negarra, literally weeping) was caused by the axel rubbing against the gurditxinelak, which were always made of wood, since metal would be quieter. In other words, the noise was deliberate, serving to alert oncoming traffic in order to prevent two carts from meeting on narrow paths. It also announced the arrival of the wedding dowry.
Garmendia Larrañaga, Juan. Itzaia = El “itzai”. In: Euskal esku-langintza = Artesanía vasca. Donostia = San Sebastián : Auñamendi, 1970. I, 138-147.
Garmendia Larrañaga, Juan. Gurdia = El “gurdi”. In: Euskal esku-langintza = Artesanía vasca. Donostia = San Sebastián : Auñamendi, 1970. II, 132-141.