Areas of Ethnology

Sources Research in Lithuania and Abroad



The most significant milestones in the history of Lithuanian ethnology are a result of activities by the ethnologists of the Lithuanian Institute of History. They include these publication firsts: the comprehensive monograph Lietuvių etnografijos bruožai (Patterns of Lithuanian Ethnography, 1964; some researchers think that the publication of this textbook marks the beginning of the science of ethnology in Lithuania), the ethnographic atlas of the Baltic states (1985), the series of ethnological monographs and large-scale studies Lietuvos Etnologija (Lithuanian Ethnology, 1996-2002; in which only ethnological papers were published), Bibliography of Lithuanian Ethnology (Lietuvių etnologijos bbliografija 2001), and the magazine of ethnology and anthropology Lietuvos etnologija. Socialinės antropologijos ir etnologijos studijos (Lithuanian Ethnology: Studies in Social Anthropology and Ethnology, since 2001).

Another important centre for ethnology is Vytautas Magnus University with its Department of Ethnology and Folklore and its Centre for Cultural Studies. Ethnology is taught at Vilnius University (Department of Theory of History and History of Culture), Vilnius Pedagogical University (Department of Baltic Prehistoric Studies), Klaipėda University (Department of Baltic Linguistics and Ethnology), Šiauliai University (Center for Cultural Anthropology), and other schools of higher education. Ethnological research is conducted at the Lithuanian National Museum (a periodical on ethnography entitled Etnografija has been published since 1991), the Lithuanian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum, the Šiauliai “Aušra” Museum (Gimtasis kraštas, a periodical mainly devoted to ethnology was published there from 1935 to 1943), the Lithuanian Art Museum, the M. K. Čiurlionis National Art Museum, the Samogitian Alka Museum, and elsewhere. These museums contain huge compendiums of ethnographic materials, publish catalogs, hold expeditions, and organize conferences and seminars. The Lithuanian Folk Culture Centre carries out important activities in the field of applied ethnology. Liaudies kultūra, a magazine of Lithuanian folk culture that mainly deals with ethnological questions, has been published by this centre since 1988. The Lithuanian Society for Regional Studies carries out activities that are very useful for ethnological research (e.g. interdisciplinary expeditions, field research), publishes monographs on localities (that mainly contain articles on ethnology), and since 1992, it has also been publishing a periodical entitled Mūsų kraštas. It is a sort of successor to two earlier publications, Gimtasai kraštas and Kraštotyra (published from 1963 to 1991). Versmė Publishing House has become the largest publishing centre of monographs on localities that are an invaluable source of information for ethnologists. Since 1994 this publishing house has been compiling and publishing the multivolume series of local monographs entitled Lietuvos valsčiai (Rural Districts of Lithuania) of the state program A Millennium of the Lithuanian Cultural Heritage and has already compiled nine extensive books. Almost all of the articles on ethnology have been prepared during field research activities organized by this publishing house. Ethnological research is also conducted by other institutions.

Lithuanians living in other countries have also done some important work in the field of ethnology. The Lithuanian academic elite that emigrated to the West after World War II continued their work abroad. The areas that were most often researched by Lithuanians living abroad were folk architecture, national costume, folk art, and customs. Jonas Balys did especially useful work in the systemization and analysis of these areas of study. He settled in the USA, established a publishing house for Lithuanian folklore, and compiled eight books. If it were not for these books (Lietuvių kalendorinės šventės [Lithuanian Calendar Holidays], Vaikystė ir vedybos [Childhood and Marriage], Mirtis ir laidotuvės [Death and Burial], Lietuvių žemdirbystės papročiai ir tikėjimai [Lithuanian Farming Customs and Beliefs], etc.) the present level of study of customs would hardly be possible. Similarly, the study of folk architecture would be very different from what it is now without Jurgis Gimbutas (USA), folk art – without Antanas and Anastazija Tamošaitis (Canada). Work by Gerhart Bauer (Germany), Jonas Grinius, Stasys Yla, Ignas Končius, Aleksandras Pakalniškis (all of them from the USA), Aldona Vaicekauskienė (Poland), and other ethnologists has also proved to be an important contribution to Lithuanian ethnology.


© Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore, The Institute of the Lithuanian Language, Lithuanian Institute of History, Institute of Mathematics and Informatics, 2003 - 2006