True Lithuania

Lithuanian traditional crafts

Much of the Lithuanian ethnic crafts are useful products for day-to-day needs. These are woven textiles (blankets, tablecloths) of colorful geometric designs, wickerwork baskets and furniture, wooden crafts (such as spoons, plates and furniture decorated in cut-through patterns) and patterned metal crafts. Today, however, all these have been largely outcompeted by manufactured goods yet the original ethnic ones are still acquired for symbolic or art value during the many craftsmen fairs.

Lithuanian wooden religious art and crafts are arguably the most famous. It includes elaborate UNESCO-inscribed crosses and chapel-posts (roofed religious sculpture on a pole).

Jewelry has been traditionally made of metal, wood or amber. Amber jewelry is now considered "the most Lithuanian one" due to Baltic amber being a local material that has few counterparts elsewhere.

Some of the unique Lithuanian crafts are reserved for particular holidays. These include
Verbos - bouquets of dried plants used on the Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Easter). They represent the palm branches that were laid in Christ's path when he triumphantly entered Jerusalem. Many Verbos are crafted and sold by vendors in streets that day.

Verbos at the museum of Verbos in Čekonikškės (Vilnius suburbs). ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Masks for Užgavėnės carnival (made of Papier Mâché and representing animals or stereotyped ethnic/social groups).

Margučiai - artfully dyed/decorated Easter eggs which are then used for various contests (e.g. "whose egg is stronger" or "whose egg goes further when pushed"). Most families still dye their eggs at home rather than buying them at a shop.

Among the unique crafts are the sodai ("gardens") that were usually reserved for weddings. These 3D contraptions of dried grass are extremely fragile and thus are not sold as souvenirs.

Sodai at Vilkaviškis regional museum (as one of the symbols of Lituanity, they are common in many locations related to ethnic heritage). ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

See also: Visual arts in Lithuania , Top 10 Lithuanian folk arts.

Article written by Augustinas Žemaitis

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