In establishing the origins of this genre of folk theatre, we are faced with conflicting opinions. We leave aside the outdated opinions of 19th century researchers (Chaho, Michel, Webster and Vinson in particular) who, with a sometimes romantic vision, placed it in the Middle Ages or earlier and gave the pastoral a fully autochthonous character. Throughout history, it would, according to them, join the popular dramatic forms prevailing in Europe during the 15th and 16th centuries. It was Georges Hérelle who, at the beginning of the century, carried out an in-depth study from which the two opinions resulting from the latest research emerged. The pastoral is, according to Hérelle, the last link in a chain whose origin is to be found in the Mysteries, Miracles and Moralities that have been widespread since the end of the Middle Ages in Western Europe. This was the time of the development of urban religious theatre, with its complicated scenography and various mansions or dramatic locations in which themes taken from the Bible (mainly the Nativity and the Passion), hagiographic and biographical works and exemplary biographical plays were performed.

From this period onwards, on the one hand, there was a gradual simplification of the staging, brought about by the ruralisation of this religious theatre, and on the other hand, a diversification of the themes. It was no longer a matter of celebrating the most important annual religious milestones with a performance, but of placing the performance in the context of a popular festival. Other biblical and secular religious themes (taken from ancient history or classical mythology) and, later on, adaptations of the literature of "colportage" or Blibliothèque Bleue entered the repertoire. One of the most important factors to take into account when studying Basque folk theatre is the existence of the so-called peasant folk civilisation in Western Europe during and after the Renaissance. The aesthetic expression of this civilisation is grotesque realism, which has its dramatic realisation in popular comic theatre and its most important manifestation in the celebration of carnival.

It seems more than likely that this comic theatre, whose scenic approach was a simplification of that of the urban religious theatres, was the vehicle used, especially in the form of the fair theatre, for the spread of a common dramatic form throughout the area. On the one hand, the so-called "compagnies joyeuses", groups of young people who prepared the performances and other events around the carnival festival, were ruralised and, on the other hand, the indoctrinating and ideological work of the Counter-Reformation was channelled through this dramatic form. This theory on the origin of the pastoral, basically defended by Oihartzabal, Garamendi and Juaristi, based on the work of Georges Hérelle and taking into account the latest research on European popular theatre (Rey-Flaud, Jacquot, etc.), is very plausible. ), is very plausible: it coincides with the change of attitude of the absolute powers with respect to the popular customs and festivals of the time (the repressive work of the Inquisition takes second place and the Church presents an evangelising attitude based on forgiveness rather than punishment) and also explains the absence of manuscripts or librettos of pastorals prior to the 18th century.

In the face of this strongly documented opinion, we must take into account the studies of Peillen and Casenave which, although they do not go as far as the previous ones, put forward hypotheses and avenues of research that cannot be dismissed. They defend the existence of dramatic forms prior to the 18th century. Specifically, Peillen, after insisting on the possibility of an earlier Basque theatrical tradition (already defended long ago by Gabriel Aresti and others) which had disappeared for various reasons and of which only a few small remnants remain, proposes an evolutionary scheme of the traditional pastoral which we shall cite below. Casenave defends an autochthonous Swabian theatre in the Middle Ages, based on the interpretation of the figures in the capitals of the church of Santa Grazi (southeast of Zuberoa in the 11th century) and on the appearance of a 14th century fresco, a few years ago, during remodelling work on the parish church of Altzabeheti.

It depicts female figures singing in a row with a staff in their right hand and, below them, the inscription 'Santa Gratiae'. It is possible that this is an iconographic representation of a pastoral of the same name. We have two librettos under this title from the 19th century. We believe that these two opinions about the origin of the pastoral could complement each other. Although we have little data to be able to confirm the existence of an autochthonous popular drama in this genre, it is clear that the Suletine community preserves with it a cultural manifestation of inestimable value, which represents one of the only connections of Basque literature, at least until relatively recently, with the narrative themes and theatrical forms of the Western European tradition; a tradition, moreover, which has disappeared in other areas.