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Lithuanian Folk Art

The virtual exhibition entitled “Lithuanian Folk Art” consists mainly of the works displayed in two exhibitions, namely “Christianity in Lithuanian Art” and “Tradition and the Present”, held respectively at the Museum of Applied Art in 1999-2003 and at Radvilas Palace in 2009, the latter being sacred to the Millenium Jubilee of Lithuania. The works embrace a rather wide period, the earliest reaching the end of the 18th century, the latest created in the first half of the 20th century. The majority of the works came from Lithuanian Art Museum´s (LAM) collection. Exhibit descriptions were taken from the exhibitions catalogues, i.e. “Sacred Art of Lithuania. II. Lithuanian Folk Art” (Vilnius, 2003) edited by museologist, archivist Dalia Bernotaitė-Beliauskienė, and “From Father´s Yard, from Mother´s Chests” (Vilnius, 2009) compiled by already mentioned Dalia Bernotaitė-Beliauskienė and her colleagues – the well-known researchers of Lithuanian folk art Marija Kuodienė, Daiva Beliūnienė and Irena Ūdraitė. 

The catalogues present invaluable treasures – sculptures and monuments of small-scale architecture – created by the most skilful and talented folk masters. Another pieces of wooden ware, like distaffs, swivels, shuttles, chests, crosses, masks and sticks, etc., are also exhibited and bespeak of their creators´ talent. No less distinctive and precious are olk paintings, woodcuts, and Kazys Šimonis´s drawings depicting monuments of small-scale folk architecture – crosses, wayside shrines, iron tops of the crosses – that only due to his authentic, abundantly detailed, nostalgic images are rendered immortal. One need not to forget that this is exactly the segment of our folk art that on 18th May, 2001 was inscribed on UNESCO´s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Apart from the mentioned masterpieces of Lithuanian folk art, the virtual exhibition presents miscellaneous sacral items and attributes of church processions (banners, shrines, lanterns and crosses) as well as some rather prosaic folk-ware used in people´s daily life. The latter group reveals Lithuanian folk´s subtle attitude towards mundane rituals, things that surrounded them everyday, clothes they wore, symbols they believed in – ingenious Easter Eggs (margučiai) call for spring; pottery, textile and traditional clothes speak of our folk artists´ talent and diligence, Palm Sunday Palms (verbos) testify what Vilnius region is famous for.

All the items of the virtual exhibition are put into several groups (types): Attributes of Church Processions, Easter Eggs, Ethnographic Items, Drawings, Iron Crosses, Folk Pottery, Folk Painting, Folk Woodcuts, Folk Sculpture, Folk Textile (drapery, clothes), Palm Sunday Palms, Sacral Items, Small-scale Folk Architecture, Wooden Ware.

This is the first virtual exhibition of this kind in Lithuania. We hope it will appeal to those internet users who are interested in folk art and also encourage other Lithuanian museums to join this project. By doing so, they can deliver to the wide world the message about the unique and precious valuables held in our museums.

Danutė Mukienė,

Leonas Pilelis

Small Distaff

Around 1887

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