Lithuanian folk art top 10 | True Lithuania
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Lithuanian folk art top 10

Lithuania has many folk artists who perpetuate its centuries-old forms of art. The works are both presented at museums and sold at fairs, shops and boutique stores as souvenirs. They are great to bring home or for gifts, although some may be too fragile to transport.

1.Lithuanian cross-crafting is so elaborate and unique that it has been declared UNESCO World Heritage. Wooden crosses and chapel-posts crafted by dievdirbiai ("godmakers") line up Lithuanian roadsides. They may also be found in large numbers in šventvietės ("holysites"). Hill of Crosses with its millions of wooden crosses is by far the most famous one.

2.Amber has been the prime export of local Baltic tribes long before the word "Lithuania" became well known. Balts would sell amber to Roman merchants. Today Lithuania has many amber artisans who make amber jewelry, amber-clad paintings, and other things. Everything with amber is quite expensive; the prices may be smaller in Palanga amber market and larger in boutique stores at city downtowns. If you want merely to learn about amber and its arts, check the Palanga Amber Museum.

3.Verbos of Vilnius are symmetrical colorful compositions of dried flowers and leafs. In Vilnius area churches they are used in place of palm leafs during the Palm Sunday. Vilnius residents usually acquire their verbos at a church-side stall that weekend or at the Kaziukas fair beforehand. Suburban Vilnius has a small Verbos museum open year-round.

4.Užgavėnės hand-made masks represent animals, mythological creatures, ethnicities, and social groups. People wear them during the traditional Užgavėnės festival which aims to "chase the winter away". Generally, by wearing a heavily stylized mask the person aims to "become" somebody else.

5.Sodai ("gardens") are hanging geometric contraptions made of straw. Traditionally used during holidays and weddings sodai now became a symbol of local identity in Lithuania and neighboring countries. Straw is also popularly used to make bags.

6.Margučiai (singular: margutis) are elaborately painted Easter eggs that usually adorn Lithuanian Easter tables. Many games are associated with them, such as "whose margutis is the strongest" or "whose margutis goes the furthest when pushed".

7.Rūpintojėlis is a traditional wooden figure of a sad sitting God (Jesus), who supports his head with one of his arms. The popularity of Rūpintojėlis has been explained by some as being related to the tragic history of Lithuania.

8.Lithuanian textiles (mostly made of linen) are characterized traditional geometric ethnic patterns. They became so symbolic that separate "ethnic strips" are crafted consisting of just an ethnic pattern (many are sold as souvenirs). There is no definitive list of ethnic patterns but Lithuanians can usually feel which pattern is Lithuanian and which is not.

9.Lithuanian traditional household items are typically made of straw, clay or metal (e.g. straw bags, clay cups). While factory-made imported goods have largely displaced hand-crafter items from the mass market, the latter still prevail in city and town fairs. People buy them for their symbolism and a human touch, and they are a popular gift for visitors.

10.Baltic jewelry has made some resurgence recently, with rings, earrings, and other items created based on the finds at archaeological digs.

Article written by Augustinas Žemaitis

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  1. I live in Australia. I am wanting to study Lithuanian folk art by visiting Lithuania for a year. I would like to learn wood cut prints, paper cutting and weaving. Is there a course that I could do? Where do I start looking?

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