Title: Folklore in the modern culture of Lithuania and Latvia


Juzala, Gustaw

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Ethnologia Polona 33-34 (2012-2013)


Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology Polish Academy of Sciences

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24 cm

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The present article focuses on the issue of references to folklore and mythology present in contemporary art in Latvia and Lithuania. Any scholar analysing Baltic cultures or even a person visiting Lithuania or Latvia for the first time and wishing to learn something about the culture of these countries will quickly notice that it contains a kind of a ‘folklore paradigm’ present in all aspects of everyday life, as well as in modern literature, music and visual arts. Folklore and the old world-views connected with it infiltrate professional art through various channels: (1) Subconsciously, as a part of spiritual experience, ancient beliefs still present in everyday life; (2) Consciously or subconsciously through traditional culture, which includes mythology as a ‘cultural relic’; (3) Consciously, if the artist makes deliberate references to mythology, studies it to find the answer to the eternal question of the meaning of life and conveying this meaning through works of art. Each day takes us further away from the times when mythology and folklore were the only means of conveying thoughts on the world and humankind as a whole. Nonetheless, folklore still inspires Lithuanian and Latvian artists. The ‘high culture’ of these countries, created by educated people, repeatedly returns to the motif of the lost Baltic paradise, the archetypical pagan community. Unfortunately, Lithuanian and Latvian literature is still relatively unknown in Poland and in the world, possibly due to its hermetic nature. The modern music and visual arts created by Baltic peoples are widely known and valued abroad, yet their literature is very difficult to translate, not as much because of linguistic concerns, but due to the frequent use of references to folklore and mythology that make these texts incomprehensible to people who lack knowledge about these cultures


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Ethnologia Polona



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Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences

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