Dowry chests from the folk art collection of the Lithuanian Art Museum are displayed in this virtual exhibition.
Peasant‘s furniture from the 19th – 20th c. stored in the museum could be attributed to material as well as spiritual culture. Dowry chests are exclusive ancient furniture.
Fabrics, best clothing, canvas were stored in dowry chests. Women also used to fit out secret spots for documents, prayer books, jewellery and other valuable items.
It is captured in the marriage folk songs that maidens before wedding sang for their dowry chests as if they were closest friends; subsequently after the marriage women entrusted their secrets and sorrows for them.
Dowry chest was essential during the wedding ceremony. Size and weight of the chest implicated social status of the bride; the luxuriance of the chest indicated bride’s aesthetic perception.
Dowry chests could be found in all regions of Lithuania. They differ in size, décor colour. ‘Kuparas’ is so called chest with a convex lid. They were most prevalent in the Eastern Lithuania and Dzūkija region.
The most popular colours of dowry chests were green, blue, and brown. The dominant colour of chest background determined the composition of tracery.
Minor floral tracery (flowerpots, slender, graceful blossoms, birds on the blossoms) is characteristic for the chests from the Aukštaitija region.
Žemaitija region has a numerous diversity of traceries. A lush floral branch outlined with white or black contour was frequently used motive on dowry chests. Motive of fir composed with a lily blossoms was also widely used. Sometimes among tracery the date of marriage, name and surname of bride were incorporated.
Dividing front plane and lid to colour plots with diverse ornaments and geometrical patterns was the originality of the Suvalkija’s dowry chests.
Dowry chests from Dzūkija and Aukštaitija were decorated by more simple ornaments.
Dowry chest was the most precious treasure of woman that is why it was inherited from generation to generation.