CENTRAL & EASTERN EUROPE
THE BALTIC STATES:
||| Latvia ||| Lithuania
Note: click on the country's name for its individual page.
See below for annotated links
on the Baltic Region in general
http://haldjas.folklore.ee/folklore/eindex.htmI love maps and those for this region are excellent. This largely coastal region (which is also rich in lakes and rivers) is therefore represented here primarily by maps -- and by the sea.
This is Folklore, an utterly engrossing website, offering awesome windows into a world about which most of us know nothing. This electronic scholarly journal is published twice a year by the Institute of the Estonian Language, Estonian Folklore Archives. The issues start with June 1996. They cover such subjects as oral folklore, music, rainbows, funerals, festivals, saints, Estonian "witch doctors," and Siberian shamans. Although published in Estonia, the journal includes numerous references to the lore and customs of other Baltic lands. This is an extraordinary resource. I've gone through all the issues and pulled out a few papers here and there that will appear not only on my Baltic pages but also on other relevant pages.http://haldjas.folklore.ee/folklore/vol4/balti.htm
This is one such paper from the above journal, Folklore. It is "Prolegomena to a History of Story-Telling around the Baltic Sea, c. 1550-1800" by Jürgen Beyer. Lengthy, carefully documented, the paper looks at folklore history, scholars, and several remarkable tales.http://www.ktl.mii.lt/heritage/lfcc/roots/node15.html...Although the concepts of folk narrative and of its genres (legend, fairy tale, etc.) were an invention of the Grimm Brothers and their disciples, there can be no doubt that tales (which we today would classify as folk narratives) were spread orally and in writing prior to the age of romanticism. What were these stories and how were they told?....The amount of data to be processed for all of Europe is far too large to be handled by an individual scholar, whereas the study of a small region might be too specific to reach conclusions valid for research in general. Work concentrating on the Baltic Sea area, however, promises to be very rewarding, while still being manageable in size....
This is a brief but good little page on ancient Baltic culture and trade:http://www.globalserve.net/~latvis/baltic/intro_main.htm...Unquestionably, the Balts' main articles of trade were amber and forest products. In Roman territory, a small amber figure was considered more valuable than a slave. Amber made its way to Roman craftsmen via the "Amber Route" and pieces have been found as far as Greece, Egypt and Assyria....
If your eyes can handle the strain of red text on black, there's probably much worthwhile material on early Baltic history here. The page comes from an interesting pagan (mostly Latvian) site, the Baltic Heritage Page. The writing seems careful and there are two good maps as well as a good bibliography. Unfortunately, my own eyes became strained after just a moment or two so I could only very briefly scan the content.http://www.ktl.mii.lt/heritage/lfcc/roots/node16.html
This page gives a good survey of ancient Baltic religion which --...can be roughly reconstructed from historical sources and from customs and folklore still in use today. It retained many of the main polytheistic elements of ancient Indo-European religions including a three-tiered world structure...
For a more detailed look at ancient Baltic religion, don't miss this introductory "Historical Background" page for COSMOLOGY OF THE ANCIENT BALTS by Vytautas Straiþys and Libertas Klimka of the Institute of Theoretical Physics and Astronomy in Vilnius, Lithuania. The details are excellent -- for example:http://www.lithuanian.net/mitai/cosmos/baltai2.htm...It is quite probable that both Mesolithic and Paleolithic man had totems, i.e. worshiped some chief animal; in western Lithuania such an animal was she-elk.This essay has an exhaustive bibliography as well as maps and illustrations of the artifacts. Another page of work by the same authors continues below...
Excavations in the Ðventoji settlement [5, 6] revealed three beautiful ritual bone staffs with she-elk head tops (Fig. 1) . Such staffs may have been used by wizards in performing pre-hunting rites. In eastern Lithuania and in Latvia numerous deer figurines have been found. From analogy with other mythologies, we can suppose that the men of Nemunas and Narva cultures considered the Goddess-elk or Goddess-deer to have specific power, such as life-, fertility- and birth-giving. Even the present Lithuanian Advent songs mention a she-deer with nine horns. Some European myths reveal two she-elks, women, birth-givers of the world .... There is no doubt that in the Early Neolithic the people of Nemunas and Narva cultures lived in a matriarchal community. It is also thought that main deities of that time were female, i.e. goddesses. This is a common feature of all cultures of Old Europe .
...This is a continuation from the above. It covers: Religion and mythology of the ancestors of the Baltic nations; The concept of the World-Tree; and Astronomical symbolism in folk painting. Here's an excerpt from the first section:http://www.lithuanian.net/mitai/cosmos/baltai5.htm...According to Gimbutienë (Marija Gimbutas) , female deities of the Balts originate from the peaceful Nemunas and Narva cultures; they are characterized by their chtonic nature, close relation with water, earth and the Moon and have life-generating powers. Male divinities show predominantly the elements of the war-oriented Indo-European culture. They represent fire, light, thunder and heavenly bodies....
This is the third and final page in this series on Baltic Cosmology: Natural rhythms and calendar; Heavenly bodies and phnomena in the Baltic religion (detailed data on deities is especially good in this section); Astronomical knowledge; and conclusions. From the "Heavenly bodies..." section:http://folklora.lv/saites.en.shtml...In the Grand Duchy of Lithuania pantheistic religion was preserved till the end of the 14th century which means that Lithuanians were the last pagans in Europe. Due to this fact, many Baltic gods are described in folklore, chronicles and books which allows us to reconstruct details of the religion of ancient Balts....I've only given a few samples from these three pages. I hope these are sufficient to lure you to the actual sites -- and that you'll enjoy the scholarship you find there.
...An analogy is easily drawn between the Baltic mythology and the mythology of Indo-Aryans, Greeks, Romans and other ancient peoples. Even the names of certain gods are similar. No doubt, the northern and southern nations communicated as early as 2000 B.C., as evidenced by finds of Baltic amber in Crete, Troy, Egypt and other countries of the Mediterranian....The Hyperboreans were said to have the same religion as the Greeks. Their land was considered the birth-place of titaness Letona (Leto), mother of the twin-gods Artemis and Apollo. Apollo visited his motherland every year and spent the winter months there. Rybakov  after analyzing existing historical sources, concludes that the Hyperboreans of the 6th - 5th centuries B.C. were Baltic tribes....
© By Latvian artist, Roberts Diners (1977 - )
This is a page of fine folklore-related web sites on Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belorussia, and Russia. Each is briefly annotated so that you can find what you're seeking.http://haldjas.folklore.ee/BIF/
This is the site for the Baltic Institute of Folklore (BIF):http://www.ibs.ee/Culture/The Baltic Institute of Folklore (BIF) is founded by the academic folkloristic institutions of the Three Baltic states - Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania in 1995. BIF coordinates folklore studies and research. BIF exchanges information about the current institutions, folklorists, conferences, fieldworks, workshops, publications and folkloristic material....There are no links to actual content-rich pages here (one exception is the category called "Folkloristic fieldworks in the Baltic States," which offers some interesting reports). The site is designed to be a resource with e-mail and snail addresses for leading experts in various Baltic folkloristic fields.
This site organizes links into useful subcategories on "Culture & Society" in Baltic lands -- these links are mostly for Estonia, but I saw several for Latvia as well as for the region in general.... [see directly below]:http://www.envir.ee/baltics/
© By Latvian artist, Roberts Diners (1977 - )
This is a fine link I found on the above "Culture & Society" page -- it's the "Baltic Sea Environment Home Page" with excellent links to such relevant topics as the geography of the Baltic Sea region. Here, for example, is one sobering quote from the geography page:http://www.balticsww.com/index.htmlThe Baltic Sea is a virtually closed body of water. Its only outlet to the ocean is found around the Denmark area. Therefore, the exchange of water in the Sea with water from ocean occurs very slowly; in fact, it takes about 35 years for all the water in the sea to be refreshed by ocean water. Any foreign substances entering the sea waters will remain there for over a quarter of a century, often long enough to have drastic effects....
This is City Paper: The Baltics Worldwide, an online pan-Baltic magazine (in English) updated every Monday and featuring the latest Baltic-wide news along with features on culture, lore, food, sports, travel, photos, and much, much more.http://www.inyourpocket.com/
This is the home page for the "In Your Pocket City Guides to Central & Eastern Europe." The three Baltic States are well represented here with an assortment of links.http://www.ciesin.ee/
This is the CIESIN Baltics Regional Node WWW Home Page:The Regional Node is an initiative to identify, document and provide access to information on the Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania). It is being coordinated in each country by the National Steering Committees. These committees oversee this joint development by Governments, Academies, Universities, NGO's, and the Consortium for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN)....I only had time to go a few levels in, but there's a great deal of material here for browsing.
Central & Eastern Europe Portal Page
Up to Europe's Portal Page
Menu for Central & Eastern Europe:
Pan-Slavic Traditions & Beliefs:
Russia Portal Page:Sacred Ikons: || Fairy Tales & Folklore: ||Music:Balkans Portal Page:(Note: here you'll find links to individual Balkan countries/states/kingdoms: Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia, once these have been activated.Other Slavic Lands
*** For Greece, see under "Western Europe";
for Hungary, see under "Finno-Ugric Peoples.")
Kosovo/Serbian Peace Invocation:
Baltic Portal Page:Estonia: || Latvia: || Lithuania:Finno-Ugric Peoples Portal Page:Finland: || Hungary /Transylvania:Eurasia: The Caucasus & Beyond:
(Note: for Estonia, see "Baltic Sates";
for Sami and western Siberian peoples, see "INDIGENOUS: Circumpolar.")
Down to Western Europe's Portal Page
This page created with Netscape Gold 3.01.
Technical assistance: William Weeks
Text and Design:
Copyright 1998-2002 by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.
Background courtesy of Mermaid's Rest Graphics.
Updates (following the 11/13/98 launch):
27 December 1998; 4 January 1999;
2 & 3 February 1999 (for the 5th anniversary of Marija Gimbutas' death on 2 February 1994);
27 March 1999 (but not posted until 21 April 1999);
13 August 1999 (NetStated);
28 September 2000 (added more Estonian links).
29-30 September 2000: gave separate pages to Estonia, Latvia and Lituania;
thus, this is now the Baltic home page -- all links are new;
1 & 2 October 2000; 8 October 2000;
6 September 2001 (updated category & menu to reflect addition of Central Europe);
23 December 2001 (Nedstat 3.0 update)