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Lithuanian Essay on Usual Environments and / or Common Objects


People of every nation have been observing and trying to understand the world around them: explaining natural phenomena, their occurrence, the origin of various objects. Lithuanian legends and tales are the wisdom of the people and their desire to know, convey and explain significant events and memory of the people. Most of Lithuanian legends are related to geographical objects and their names. Geographical objects include boulders, lakes and rivers, hills and mounds, towns and villages. Many of them have their own legend. The purpose of legends is not only to explain the origin of various natural objects, but also to inspire their preservation and conservation. To show the beauty and mystery of various objects of the country, to tell about the antiquity and history of the country. Legends and portrayals of images, environment, objects also provide a better understanding of pagan culture and the importance of natural signs. In ancient times, many natural objects, mostly mountains, were understood as the space between earth and heaven, life and death. Like many Lithuanian legends, mountains differentiate between present and other worlds. To this day, many folklore remains - legends about hills, mountains and ridges, mounds. Their history is associated with Baltic culture and traditions, where goddesses and gods stood on the hills and were worshiped. Legends seek to explain not only the emergence of hills and mounds, but also their purpose. Here, on the mounds, people were buried, and mountains, woods, and forests were associated with the founding of cities and their names. A great example of the legend about the founding of the city of Vilnius, when, in ancient times, the Grand Duke of Lithuania Gediminas dreamed that on the top of the hill stands a huge iron wolf. Duke Gediminas established the future capital - Vilnius - at that place. Castles and towns where usually built on the hill. The motif of the hill is typical not only for Lithuanian but also for other national legends - Polish, Italian, Bulgarian. An important part in Lithuanian lengens has the image of stone. It was one of the most frequently depicted objects, along with the image of the devil. Frequently, rocks are roaring, devils jumping, and the water next to or under the rock is magical and healing. There are a lot of legends about devil's lost stones, people turned into stones, and treasures buried under the stones. The most legendary is Puntukas stone in Anykš?iai. Its history is associated with devil's tricks in different stories. The image of stone in folklore had different functions: hiding something under the stones, marking the boundary, marking the center of ritual action. Legends and myths surrounded by unusual and large Lithuanian stones, were believed to be haunted, considered sacred or cursed. The stone is a symbol of ancient Lithuanian religion, the meaning of which is revealed in legends. The environment is also important, because objects of legends are portrayed in it. Old Lithuanian faith - paganism - is inseparable from the worship of nature and its significance in human life. Legends and stories show castles surrounded by nature and lakes. The origin of their names is related to the work of the devil and giants on the sidewalks, ditches, lakes and rivers (Nemunas, Neris, Šventoji). In Legends the origin of various cities and their names (legend about the founding of the city of Vilnius) is explained. The historical, architectural and landscape value is revealed. The foundation and names of castles are also connected with legends. The lakes and cliffs as mythological environment is characteristic not only to the folklore of Lithuania but also to other countries. Lithuanian legends are mythology, written works that show folk fantasy and creativity. It is the legacy of the oral culture of our ancestors that reminds us of the wealth that the nation leaves in its creation. We also learn about our region, place of residence, events and surprising natural phenomena.

The Puntukas Stone

The importance and significance of stone in Lithuanian folklore have been known since ancient times. Lithuania was the last country to renounce paganism, so paganism and traditions are inseparable from Lithuanian history, and the stone acquires a symbolic value associated with the tradition of worship. This is reflected in legends when stones were used to perform pagan ceremonies. Environment in which stones are depicted - forest, woods, rivers is associated with nature and faith in the gods. The Puntukas stone is one of the largest boulders in Lithuania, which is filled with legends. There are a number of stories about the origin of Puntukas, in which the devils take the main part of the appearance of the stone, its location or its name.

In the legend of the Puntukas stone, the main object is the stone but next to it we can see the devil. When the oldest devil decides to get rid of his mother and throws a stone on her house, the forces of good and evil come together. Where the devil exists, there is, as opposed to him, a positive hero, in this legend, Dundulis. He is a symbol of the pagan faith and he launches a fiery arrow wherever he sees the devil. The devils, when confront with the wrath of Dundulis, can not keep the stone, and it falls on the house of a bad man whose name was Puntukas. This is how the stone got its name Puntukas. When the forces of good and evil collide, goodness wins. The environment in which events take place - the forest, the rivers

of Anykščiai and Šventoji, and the characters are inseparable from pagan traditions and symbols.

Similar legends about stones are alsofound in legends of other nations: the Italian "Saint Galgano and the sword in stone", the Bulgarian "Belintash". Although the stories and events are different, they portray the collision of good and evil. The innocent, persecuted are saved by "Holy Petka and Stone Bread." The stone in the Bulgarian legend "Belintash" is a symbol of sacredness. In the Italian legend "The Holy Galgano and the Sword in the Stone," the evil fails to influence the strength of the stone. Stone is a witness to the millennial history of the nation.

The old Lithuanian faith comes to life through the stone, because people considered the stones sacred. There are pits of cult-related rituals (Švendubrė stone or Devil's stone) where holy water was found. It is believed that such stones were used to burn the holy fire. The sacred motif associates these objects of Lithuanian legends with the stones depicted in legends of other nations (in the Bulgarian legend "Belintash"). The Devil's Stone is one of the largest boulders in Lithuania (like Puntukas). Many legends have been created to tell the history of the stone and its origin.

Different stories give different interpretations of the appearance of the Devil's Stone on the outskirts of the village of

Švendubrė on the right bank of the Nemunas. There is a story that the Devil carried a stone to dam the Nemunas, but lost it in the morning after the roosters roared. Elsewhere, the Devil carried a stone across the Nemunas to finish the bricklaying of Liškiava Castle, but the cock sang and the stone fell. The stone near Švendubrė stands there to this day. This stone was called the Devil's Stone because people thought there were many devils in the woods. In the legend about the Devil's Stone, image of the church is very important and it is repeated in the Italian legend "Beautiful Alda", and in the Romanian legend "Master Manole".

In Lithuanian legends about the Devil's Stone, as in other Lithuanian legends, we meet the recurring environment such as forests, rivers, lakes, swamps, mountains and hills, fields and meadows. The Bulgarian legend "The Devil's Bridge" and the Polish legend "The legend of the Warsaw mermaid" also have a river motif. In the Polish legend "Demon Bies and Chad" - nature and wooded places.

In Lithuanian legends and tales, the mountain is a sacred place that separates present and other worlds related to faith and gods. This place and legend about the Hill of the Crosses represent the faith of the Lithuanians focused on Christianity, the importance of religion in daily life, however, according to various accounts, pagan rite symbols can also be seen. The hill

itself, on which Hill of Crosses is located, is a mound that may have had religious significance. The motifs of the towns, estates and churches on the mounds mentioned in the ancient Lithuanian stories are very common. In a broader global context, the mountain is seen as a symbol of the closeness of the deity. A mountain is a sacred place that allows you to connect with the sky.

The legend tells the story of the rise of the Hill of Crosses. One version of the legend explains that the cross on the mountain came after the appearance of the holy virgin Mary with the baby Jesus in the 1960s. In another version, the father of a sick girl dreamed a strange woman in light clothes, who ordered her to carry a cross on Castle Hill so that her sick daughter would recover. This is what he did. The daughter recovered. This is how the crosses brought from different parts of Lithuania appeared. In Lithuanian legends and tales, the mountain is a place where miracles take place: when the cross is built, the sick are miraculously healed.

Folklore in other countries also portrays events surrounded by mountains or hills: the Polish legends "The Legend of the Slate" and "Demon Bies and Chad (Bies and Hero San)". In the Bulgarian legend "Belintash", an important object is the mountain, which is a place of sacredness that separates present and other worlds related to life and death.

Trakai is the only castle in Europe built on the island. Trakai is surrounded by 5 lakes: Galve, Skaistis, Luka, Totoriskes and Akmena. In legends about Trakai we find the history of the castle, important historical events and stories about Lithuanian dukes.

According to legends, Old Trakai was founded by the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas in the 14th century. Other legends say that Trakai was founded by the whim of a woman. Birutė, the wife of Duke Kestutis, did not like to live in Old Trakai because there was too little water nearby, so Kestutis to satisfy his wife in the 14th century began building a new castle on a peninsula surrounded by lakes. In legends, the Old Trakai Castle is a witness to the crusades. It depicts the architectural and spiritual heritage of the nation.

Not only the image of the castle and the origin of the name are important, but also the environment and the landscape. Often events take place at the lake shore, in the yard or at the castle gate. The environment is most often used in Lithuanian legends and stories about the origin of cities, rivers and lakes.

In legends, the castle has a historical value. It is an object associated with its rulers and princes. Most of the castles were dedicated to protect the area and people. Romanian legend "Dracula" shows a castle and "Bride's cave" shows a lake. Italian legend "The Devil's Column" shows the basilica, and "Lake Misurina and Mount Sorapiso" shows the image of the lake. The same objects and environment are repeated.

Many legends and stories about the establishment of cities of Lithuania and other countries have been created, where important objects are mountains, hills, castles. There are similar environments in which important events occur that determine the origin of a city or the origin of a city name.

According to the legend about the founding of the city of Vilnius, after the hunt, Grand Duke Gediminas fell asleep and dreamed that a huge iron wolf was standing on the top of the mountain and looking at the moon. The pagan priest, Lizdeika, explained the meaning of the dream, and Grand Duke Gediminas began to build the future capital Vilnius, which took its name from the River Vilnia. Prophetic dreams and unusual things are constantly encountered in tales of the establishment and prosperity of capitals or states. The Lithuanian legend about the founding of the city of Vilnius reveals links with the Italian legend about the founding of Rome "Romulus and Remus and the founding of Rome", a particularly important episode about the wolf-fed twins Romulus and Remas. The founding of the city is explained by the image of the wolf in legends and stories of other countries, where the most common environments are woods, forests, valleys, rivers, and objects - mountains, castles.

The Italian legend "Romulus and Remus and the founding of Rome" describes the history of the foundation of the city, in which the hill is an important object, as in the Lithuanian

legend about the foundation of the city of Vilnius. The Bulgarian legend "Rhodopes" the hills of the city of Plovdiv are mentioned. In Italian legend "Lake Misurina and Sorapiss", the main object is the mountain and the surrounding area - the lake.

Legends are often associated with prominent historical figures who give their names to villages or cities, lakes, rivers or rocks. According to legend, the city of Kaunas got its name in honor of the son of Duke Palemonas, a relative of the Roman emperor.

Duke Palemonas, fearing the cruelty of the Roman emperor, escaped with his sons. Reached the shores of the Baltic Sea. After the death of the Duke, the lands were divided by the sons, and one of them, Kūnas (Kaunas), founded the city, which was named after the founder, Kaunas. The environment mentioned in the legend is the ocean, the Baltic Sea, the coasts, the village, the settlements, the confluence of the rivers Nemunas and Neris, fields. The main objects are the village and the city. The Italian legend of Romulus and Remo and the founding of Rome is also dominated by the motif of nature, shows the river, the founding of the city. The Polish legend "Demon Bies and Chad (Bies and Hero San)" repeats the same environment: a forest of mythological creatures, a river, a village. The river is named Sanas in honor of the deceased commander, and the mountains over which the river flows, known as Bieso-Chad, remind the

evil master of these lands. Polish legend "The legend of the Wawel dragon" and "The story of Mr. Tvardowski" - Krakow city, fields, river.

The same or similar depictions (rivers, settlements, villages, fields, forests), objects (city, village, land) are inseparable in the legends of Lithuanian and other nations about the establishment of cities or the origin of the name. Cities are usually named after characters or historical figures in legends.

Neringa is an important part of Lithuania, located on the Curonian Spit. In ancient times fishermen lived here, and about them there are a lot of stories.

Legend says that the giant Neringa, in order to help the fishermen and stop the flow of the Nemunas in the opposite direction, has made the Curonian Spit in twelve days and nights. Dominant environment: village, sea, seashore. There is a picture of the Curonian village, where unusual things are happening, characters with extraordinary abilities (Neringa), mythological creatures, in this case a dragon, who lives in the sea. Similarities can be seen in the Italian legend "Saint George and the Dragon", and there is also a mythological creature - the dragon. In the Romanian legend "Living Fire" there is a creature with several heads. The Polish legend of the Wawel Dragon also has symbolic links. The Polish legend "Demon Bies and Chad (Bies and Hero San)" depicts mythological creatures (demon,

devils) and repeats the same environment - the village. An important object, which is described in the legend about the foundation of Neringa - Naglis Hill. A giant from Palanga named Naglis fell in love with Neringa from the Curonian village and rushed to defend her from the dragon. As in the Italian legend "St George and the Dragon",and also in the folklore of other countries, when good and evil fight , usually good prevails. Naglis cut off the heads of the dragon, and put the sand on his body . This is how Naglis Hill appeared.

Although the content and events differ, in the folklore of Lithuanians and other countries it is possible to find recurring motifs (collision of good and evil), same objects and environment (city, village, sea, seashore, mountain), characters (dragons, dragons ).