Legend about Neringa's conquest

Original version
According to the legend, a daughter of a poor fisherman was born in the Curonian village. People called her Neringa. The girl was extraordinary because she grew tall and was a giant. The sea dragon heard of her beauty and decided to marry her. When Neringa refused to marry, the dragon began to sink ships. Neringa thought that the dragon would be covered by a sand dyke, carrying sand, dunes, pine forests, pebbles, and stones. So Neringa separated the lagoon from the sea. Naglis, loved by Neringa, started to defend the girl - he killed the head of the dragon, cut his body, and poured sand. This is how Naglis Hill emerged, on which Neringa and Naglis wedded.
Main characters
Fisherman, daughter of fisherman Neringa, sea dragon, giant Naglis from Palanga.
Connected artistic / architectonic / historical heritage
People who lived in Neringa and the rest of Curonian Spit were linked to the Curonians – a tribe of Western Balts, who lived at the nowadays Latvian seaside, with their settlements spreading as far as to the south, reaching Klaipeda neighborhood. First settlements were found dated as early as in the Stone Age, human beings found there a land that was suitable for living (4,000 BC). Approximately, at that time, Semba peninsula let amber layer loose under the plough. So the locals were not only fisherman, but were picking and manufacturing goods from amber. Amber is still a big part inhabitants’ household and decoration. From XIII century territory was conquered by Germanic Order which build several castles at the Curonian Spit, from XVI century Duchy of Prussia took possession of the territory and respected local differences and uniqueness, so local traditions recovered. Besides, at the intersection of XV and XVI centuries, the Curonians, who spoke Latvian and distinctly represented an ethnic originality of the Spit. Those fishermen had been cutting the waters of the Curonian Lagoon on thekurenas – sailing boats of especial construction, the masts of which were adorned with weathercocks. Woesome existence lead the Curonians to master hunting crows and consume them as food, as well as determined the ascetic habitation and dress code of the Curonians.
Local traditions or historical connections
Fishermen from Neringa had been cutting the waters of the Curonian Lagoon on the „kurenas“ – sailing boats of especial construction, the masts of which were adorned with weathercocks on which some key information about fisherman was stored. There is still a local tradition each year on the Sea Festival day in Klaipėda to have „Dangės flotilė“ – regatta of those traditional boats. Weathercock is still a comon traditional dercoration element in houses of Neringa, even Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius as a gift to present Pope Francis decided to choose an oak weathercock of Curonian Lagoon ships. There are several sculptures dedicated to main character Neringa the giant through out the seaside. On one of the most beautiful and oldest parabolic dunes in Neringa, which is called the Hill of Witches, there are wooden sculptures of Neringa the giant and the sea Dragon.
Didactical Relevance
Neringa is an unique part of Lithuania which is recognized not only locally, but worldwide as well. Neringa is situated on the Curonian Spit a narrow peninsula which is separating the Curonian lagoon from Baltic sea. For centuries it has been an area of massive traveling dunes, the so-called “Lithuanian Sahara”. Its few fishing villages used to be momentary and lasted only for some time, over 10 of them are known to have been consumed by the moving dunes. However, since the 19th century, the landscape is dominated by pine forests, a titanic successful attempt by the locals to tame the nature. By the end of 2000, the Curonian Spit territory was included in UNESCO World Heritage list as a cultural landscape object. This recognition is the best evaluation of cultural inheritance, nature protection, and infrastructure improvement works being done on the territory of the Curonian Spit.
Didactical Activity
- Direct visit to Neringa is only possible using ferry from Lithuania seaport of Klaipėda. From geography subject standpoint there are various possibilities to talk about ports, sea transport, fishing in different types of fishing boats. Formation of peninsula, the effect of waves to the coast, formation of dunes, natural habitat and ways of adapting to environment. - Literature, art and history – because Neringa belongs to Lithuania minor ethnographic region, the traditions and customs are different a bit, starting from traditional clothes, architecture or folklore, so comparison of customs region that students are coming from would be possible. Classroom activities could be done pre- and post- visit, collecting information before visiting and compare. Literature – analyze other similar folklore legends and stories involving sea and mystical animals.

Video

Neringa Animation film
Neringa Animation film
Neringa's legend
Neringa's legend

Images

Traditional local fisherman boats named "Kurėnas" with weathercocks
Weathercock
Wooden sculptures of the sea Dragon
In Hill of Witches
Traditional local fisherman boats named "Kurėnas"
sailing boats of especial construction
Dunes on the peninsula
Dunes created by neringa
Neringa Peninsula
Neringa Peninsula from above
Neringa
Artefact of Neringa

External Sources

The official site of Neringa information center
Facts and history about Neringa peninsula as well geographical description and legend about Neringa

PDF version of the legend in national language

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