Readings

An annotated bibliography of Latvian jewellery

I am building a page of reference materials pertaining to Latvian jewellery. There is a lot of great material out there, but it can be hard to find. This is an informal listing of works which I have found inspiring and informative. Please let me know of any great references that have not yet been added.

1. Radiņš, Arnis. Arheoloģisks ceļvedis latviešu un Latvijas vēsturē.
Neptuns, Rīga 2012. Written in Latvian.

A most comprehensive and beautiful book which features a great deal of Latvian jewellery. It is written by the Director of the Latvian National History Museum, Arnis Radiņš and it is informative, readable and attractive with images on every page. It includes a huge bibliography relating to all aspects of history and archeology of jewellery (and the other aspects of Latvian history covered in this wonderful publication).

Check the LNVM Ziņnesis August 2012 edition for a description. 

It is a large, heavy, hard-covered book of 414 pages. Online ordering and delivery was reliable and surprisingly quick and relatively cheap, especially as it had to cross the world from Latvia to Australia. Ordering from Jānis Roze bookshop worked
for me. 

2. Zariņa, Anna.  

Anna Zariņa devoted her working life to ethnographic archeology, focusing on textiles. She was born in 1921 and, regrettably, died in March 2015. She published much academic research since the 1950's. Her book Apģerbs Latvijā 7. - 17. gs , (Zinātne, Rīga 1999)  is written in Latvian with 10 pages at the end in German. It is thorough, yet most readable. It is out of print as far as I could find: let me know if a hard copy is available, as I'd love to add it my library. 

Zariņas book has 159 pages of research with illustrations about 1,000 years of Latvian national costume. It focuses on textiles, but there is also plenty of information on jewellery along with many black and white illustrations. Don't miss the coloured images in the middle. Here's a summary in Latvian from the back of the book. 

 

3. Celms, Valdis. LATVJU RAKSTS UN ZĪMES. BALTU PASAULES MODELIS, UZBŪVE, TĒLI, SIMBOLIKA. 
Folkloras Informācijas Centrs, Rīga 2011. 272 pages, hardcover. Written in Latvian.

This book is not about jewellery. It is, however, a comprehensive study of the symbols which are an intricate part of all Latvian applied arts, including jewellery. These symbols influence the form and the decoration of Latvian folk design, including my own work.

This recently published and readily available book may be the most complete study of Latvian symbols to date. Celms’ research goes right back to the origins of symbology, it gives insights into the international origins of the Latvian symbols and then moves into analyzing and categorizing each symbol. He offers interpretations of each symbol and backs up interpretations with illustrations, images and examples of the haiku-like Latvian folk songs called “Dainas”.

I would imagine that practical academics may take issue with some of Celms’ esoteric theories. However, the realm of ancient symbols is by its nature mysterious and imprecise. I would certainly recommend this book as essential to anyone interested in Latvian symbology and folklore.