Livonians in Northern Kurzeme



Within the Project „Baltic Green Belt” new book „Livonians in Northern Kurzeme” has been published. 

The author of this bookis Māra Zirnīte, the coordinator of the field of research as well as a research collection National Oral History* (NOH) at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology at the University of Latvia.

The book covers six Livonian life stories. They tell us of their daily life in Lūžņa, Lielirbe, Sīkrags, Pitrags and Vaide – ancient Livonian fisherman villages by the Baltic Sea. We can read about in the WWI experienced, when they had to leave their homes on the coast and move to inland. About the Period of the First Independence of the State where little train along the narrow gauge railway carried not only goods and passengers, but also brought development, prosperity and education in ancient fisherman villages. Then Second World War started with new refugees and after war border area laws  eliminated the chance for Livonians to remain on their ancestral grounds. Young people were forced to go to Ventspils or Rīga, many emigrated to West, others were sent to Siberia.

Nevertheless, these stories are full of joy of life and work, appreciation of nature values and beauty, and human relationship twists and turns are unfolded through humour. Each narrator was speaking in tāmnieku dialect and it was reflected also in the book. Poems written by narrators are published in Livonian language.

Most ancient Livonian fisherman villages in Northern Kurzeme are now a part of some protected nature territories – Slītere National Park, Ovīši nature rezerve. Sharp winds of history have not had mercy upon people’s faith; however, they have given a shelter for nature diversity. Not only at the coastal area of Northern Kurzeme, but throughout all Europe from North till South along former territory of the Iron Curtain stretches so called „European Green Belt” – protected nature territories for conservation of rare animals and plants, as well as local nation culture and military heritage on border area of more than 20 European countries.

The book is richly illustrated with photos from narrator personal family albums, photos from ethnographic expeditions and also photos by Vilho Seteles of 1912 that are kept in Finnish Museum of Photography.

Summary in English is published  as a brochure „Livonians in Northern Kurzeme” and is available here 

[download id="92"]

*The Livonians and their memories are included in seperate National Oral History collection.