Since ancient times, sash making was one of the most widely practiced folk weaving craft in Lithuania. Sashes were used to tie garments, swaddle infants, perform various rituals as well as to be given as gifts or sacrifices. The patterns woven onto these sashes were especially meaningful as they displayed a unique symbolic language passed down from ancient times.
Traditional sashes were woven from brightly dyed linen, cotton and wool threads. They could be classified into three groups according to crafting technique: plaited, twined or woven (pick-up or overlay patterned). Some of these techniques were quite ancient and only survived into this century in isolated regions.
Plaited sashes were worked from wool threads by hand without any tools. They could be found in Aukstaitija up to the turn of the century. Twined sashes woven on wooden square cards, according to archaeological information, were once common throughout Lithuania. Such antique sashes once boasted complex patterns, however by the beginning of the 20th century, simple, even single colored examples were being made only in parts of Eastern Aukstaitija.
Pick-up patterned sashes were most popular in 19th century Lithuania. They were common throughout all of the ethnic regions, especially Dzukija and Suvalkija. The foundation was woven from linen or cotton - and ornamented with pick-up patterns of wool threads. These decorations were geometric in nature, usually red, green and occasionally violet, blue, rose or some other color. Ancient symbols, including heavenly bodies (most often the sun), earth and vegetation forms were depicted repeatedly in sash patterns. The region in which a pick-up patterned sash was made could be determined by examining its patterns and color scheme.
"LITHUANIAN ROOTS", Edited by Rytis Ambrazevicius