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Sculpture

Every Lithuanian chapel used to contain statuettes of more than 40 saints, the number of which in each chapel amounted sometimes to more than a score.

In the 1930's Koncius covered 2424 kilometers, traveling in Zemaitija, and he registered 3234 statuettes of saints, which means there was one statuette for every 700 meters. The most frequent was the sculpture of the Crucified (42,8 per cent) and of the Holy Virgin (22,7 per cent), others included: St. John (9,3 per cent), Jesus (4,4 per cent), St.George (2,8 per cent), the Pensive Christ (2,5 per cent), St. John the Baptist and Roch (2,3 per cent), St. Barbara (0,8 per cent), St. Joseph (1,1 per cent), St. Anthony (1,78 per cent), St. Isidore (0,8 per cent), St. Florian (0,7 per cent) and others.

Very typical of the surviving Lithuanian sculptural tradition are the images of the following three saints - the Pensive Christ, St Isidore and St George.

The Pensive Christ is depicted as an old man sitting with his chin on his right palm. But he is not Christ in prison. In small chapels with open sides, attached to trees, the Pensive Christ is usually the only statuette. He symbolizes sadness, as his crucifixion was a sacrifice to humanity to alleviate its pain and wipe its tears. During and after a war Lithuanians looked upon the Pensive Christ as a symbol of their misfortunes.

St George (Gr. Georgios - "land tiller") is very popular in Lithuania. Together with St Casimir he is considered to be Lithuania's second saintly guardian. He is usually depicted as a rider, slaying a dragon to defend a princess. To the peasant St George is the guardian of his animals. A chapel with his statuette was usually placed at the gate through which animals were driven to and back from pasture.

St Isidore is depicted as a farmer sowing grain while an angel is ploughing the field. When St Isidore is depicted ploughing the field, the angel is sowing. St Isidore looks after the fields, protects them against drought or too much rain, stimulates the sprouting of seeds. Therefore his statuette is usually placed in a chapel on a pole in the fields.

St Isidore usually wears clothes typical of the locality where his chapel is built - sometimes he is in his shirt sleeves, sometimes he is wearing a long coat, on his head he has a cap or a straw hat, across his shoulder a towel or a sash. His trousers are usually rolled up. But sometimes his clothes are "quite nice". St Isidore is sometimes included even in secular sculptural groups.

Every region, Zemaitija in particular, had its own craftsmen who carved "gods" after the image their of own people.



next previous contents
Next: Wrought iron artifacts Previous: Crosses and chapels

J. Kudirka "THE LITHUANIANS"

Copyright ©, 1996 Lithuanian Folk Culture Centre.