St. George in Lithuanian Folk Art
On April 23rd St. George’s Day (Jurginės in Lithuanian) is celebrated. For commemorating this occasion virtual exhibition ‘St. George in Lithuanian Folk Art’ is created and displayed in LIMIS system. Exhibition consists of the folk art exhibits from the collection of Lithuanian Art Museum.
St. George was a frequent folk art object in Lithuania in the second half of the 19th c. – the first half of the 20th c. St. George – the brave warrior against evil, protector of Christ and the martyr – is unremitting faith symbol of Eastern and Western Churches. St. George is the guardian of states and cities, the second guardian of Lithuania.
In the folk sculpture St. George is depicted as mounted Roman solder; sign of the cross is on the fluttering cloak and chest. He strikes with a spear to the jaws of the squirming under a horse's legs dragon. Beside the dragon is standing or kneeling and praying rescued princess. This successful struggle of good against evil is symbolizing the victory of the Christian faith.
St. George is the guardian of soldiers, farmers, landowners and horse herds. He takes care of cattle, especially horses; he protects them from various diseases, disasters, wolfs, thieves and evil eyes. In Lithuania there is cheerfully celebrated spring feast Saint George’s Day. Farmers associate Jurginės with a spring time revival, the beginning of cattle herd in the fields after a long winter, the first spring toils. Traditionally during the Saint George’s feast people pet cattle with a willow twig, bless fields, crops and farming implements. For Jurginės ceremony baked bread is given for cattle. During the feast farmers abundantly contribute, dole beggars, ask grace from the Saint – health for themselves and cattle, fertile crop.
Sculptures of St. George usually contain of expressive forms and motion, colourfulness; this indicates the creativity of folk masters. Sculptures of St. George could be found in courtyards, fields, chapels and wayside shrines. St. George surrounded by nature emerges like a soldier responsible for farmer’s life and fate.
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