Latvian Symbols in Art and Architecture

Latvian Symbols Art Architecture
Wooden Houses in Latvia are Adorned with Detail, some of which Have Cultural Origins and Meanings

Latvia has a rich cultural heritage of meaningful symbols that are prevalent in their art and architecture. The Latvian wooden houses incorporate a lot of detail in the wood trim. And much of this detail can be traced to symbols that have roots in the Pagan origins of the Latvian culture.

Author Dan Brown brought the study of symbols to the popular culture in his mega-bestseller, The daVinci Code. The intrepid “symbologist,” Professor Robert Langdon. Followed a trail of ancient symbols to undo the dirty deeds of the bad guys. These were Christian symbols. Latvia is a Christian nation, but the history of Latvia can be traced back to their Baltic origins in 4,000 to 2,000 BC. At that time, religion centered around rituals honoring Mother Earth and the mysteries of the natural world which surrounded and sustained human life.

Latvian Symbols Art Architecture
The Bottom Edge of this Siding is Cut in a Zig-Zag Pattern that may Represent the Latvian Sign of Mara, the Deity of Earth and Water. But the Small circle at the Top of each Peak May Mean that this is the Symbol for Heaven Repeated Continuously Around the Entire House. Notice the Top Panel in the Shutters Is Another Opportunity for Symbolic Detail.

Many Latvian symbols, often abstracted shapes directly representing some aspect of nature, are key elements in Latvian decoration. There are symbols for the sun, moon, heaven, waves, serpents, and more. And these symbols carry meaning. For instance, the twin-peaked Sign of Jumis represents a double-spiked stalk of grain and symbolizes fertility and prosperity. The Sign of Zalktis, a serpent, is the guardian of wealth and well-being and is prevalent on women’s clothing and jewelry.

Fortunately, even during the oppressive Soviet and Nazi occupations, this wonderful and important heritage of Latvian culture has been retained. You see many of these symbols in Latvian jewelry, clothing, and in the decorated architecture of the houses and public buildings. We’ll be using symbols that are meaningful to my clients’ family in the design of their new home.

This is the fifth entry in the Latvia project portion of the blog. Read the others by clicking on the following:

Bill Hirsch

Bill Hirsch

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