Prepared by Kazys Seselgis. V.: VAGA, 1992

Kazys Seselgis: INTRODUCTION
For many centuries monuments, such as pillar-type crosses, roofed pillar-type crosses, ordinary crosses and miniature chapels, played a significant part in Lithuanian folk architecture. While farm buildings were built to satisfy everyday needs, such as for example, storing goods, monuments were  LITHUANIAN FOLK ART. SMALL-SCALE ARCHITECTURE. VOL. 2. Prepared by Antanas Stravinskas, Mecislovas Sakalauskas. V.: Vaga, 1992not related to any material necessities and served exclusively the spiritual needs of the people. Monuments used to be erected to commemorate significant events and dates in the lives of families, village communities and also in the political, social and cultural life of the nation. There are monuments dedicated to honor the fallen in the uprising of 1863, to  commemorate the proclamation of the independent Republic of Lithuania, and the Year of Vytautas the Great, and also monuments marking significant events in church life. But such monuments are not very numerous. Most of the crosses were erected by individual families over the graves of their relatives, at the places of accidents, on the occasion of great blessings or misfortunes, at the birth of the long-awaited heir, to mark good fortune on the farm or in personal life, as the fulfillment
of a promise amongst other reasons.
Once erected, a cross, a pillar-type cross or a miniature chapel was regarded as a sacred thing: nobody dared to inflict any damage to it or show disrespect by indiscreet behavior near it. During the summer festivals (e. g. Whitsunday) such monuments used to be decorated with wreaths, cemeteries and individual monuments were visited by processions in
which the entire village population usually took part. The area around them was constantly taken care of by planting flowers and shrubs, by weeding the paths and by sprinkling them
with sand. This was supposed to strengthen the ties between the living and the dead, a link
with the past, and was one of the ways of maintaining a balance between the material world
and man's spiritual life. Some monuments, especially those in Dzukija, acquired the fame
of possessing magic powers, and then people's contacts with them took on quite a different
aspect. For example, as late as the seventies of the present century brides still continued to
gird the stems of crosses with towels and aprons in the Zervynos village, Varena District,
entreating God to bless them with an heir. The traditions of deifying monuments and attributing great powers to them are very old, for they seem to have come down to us from the
pagan times.
Monuments used to be erected in farmsteads, by the wayside, at crossroads, on river banks, in cemeteries, churchyards, streets and squares of towns and villages and other places visible from afar, related to some commemorable event. Their distribution corresponded with the concentration of farm houses: the largest clusters of monuments were to be found in the old type villages and village cemeteries, while in the areas where farmsteads were dispersed at considerable distances, monuments were much sparser.
Crosses, pillar-type crosses and miniature chapels gave the village carpenters, sculptors and wood carvers a better chance to display their capabilities than any other objects of folk architecture. Here they could realize the old creative traditions handed down to them by their predecessors, and thus produce works of high artistic standards. In these structures folk masters strove to express the joys and misfortunes that befell the village people of their time, to embellish and enoble their everyday life and surroundings. The craftsman always worked in close collaboration with his patron, who was also a simple farmer. The patron's wish to have one of these monuments was usually the decisive factor which determined the content of the monument and its form (a cross, a pillar-type cross, a roofed pillar-type cross or a miniature chapel). The distribution of these monuments in Lithuania depended a great deal upon the patrons. But the master himself was usually free to carry out the commission as he thought best and, in doing this, he relied both on the traditions of his predecessors and his own artistic creativity. Therefore the master alone, as a rule, was honored as the one who gave expression to people's spiritual values. It would be rather difficult to determine the exact part which the master and the patron played in the development of memorial architecture and its ethnographic features, but we should not underestimate the part played by the latter. Whatever the world outlook of the simple people of the distant past, whatever their attitude and reaction to the relationship of the material and metaphysical elements, whatever the means used to realize people's spiritual aspirations, they all had a share in the content and forms of memorial architecture.
We can imagine the following sequence in the creation of a memorial monument: the patron makes his wishes plain to the craftsman. In giving his instructions, he proceeds from his own understanding of the world and the artistic conventions used throughout a long period of time to express spiritual values. In addition to the factors indicated above, the master is influenced also by the landscape and surroundings of the future monument (a cemetery, a farmstead, a street, a roadside, and so on), by the prevalent architectural styles, and the compositional innovations discovered and utilized by other masters. For
example, Baroque sculpture and ornamentation had a great influence on the well-known master of crosses, Vincas Svirskis (around the turn of the 20th century), while his own original compositions served as models for other masters who worked in the same district (e. g. Samuolis). But on the other hand, his monuments would not have been admired, loved and honored so much by the simple folk if he had used architectural forms outside the general artistic norms which formed part of their everyday life. Inattention to the values of national spiritual culture and folklore, disregard of the accepted interpretation of the past and disrespect to the native language are incompatible with any measure of sincerity
in the small-scale forms of architecture or the continuation and use of centuries-old artistic traditions. This truth was only too manifestly confirmed during, the first post-war years when, through administrative measures, attempts were made to channel the natural development of folk memorial architecture into a new direction.
Memorial monuments were built of stone, bricks, iron and, beginning with the 20's of the present century, concrete. But the greatest number of them was made of wood. All of them were topped with iron heads. Monuments, which were made exclusively of iron or stone were rather rare; elaborate iron crosses used to be fixed in natural field boulders specially selected for the purpose or roughhewn stems of stone. As bricks, stone and concrete were not easy to model, monuments made of these materials were rather modest and laconic, conspicuous among the trees or against the sky by the simple cross-like shape alone.
Wood and iron provided better possibilities for the masters to demonstrate their talents, therefore wooden and iron monuments displayed the greatest variety of forms. There were several kinds of constructions typical of wooden monuments: a stem with a roof (roofed pillar-type monuments), a stem with one or several cross-pieces (crosses), a box with one of its sides open, topped with a saddle, hipped, broach or, more rarely, conical broach roof (miniature chapels). Alongside, there were monuments of mixed construction: a combination of a tall vertical stem and a miniature chapel (pillar-type crosses) or a cross and a miniature chapel. According to the type of the construction it is customary to distinguish five typological groups of wooden monuments: roofed pillar-type crosses,  pillar-type crosses, ordinary crosses, miniature chapels and carved memorial boards - krikstai. Each typological group had an infinite variety of forms - it has been impossible to discover two absolutely identical monuments even if they were created by one and the same master (here again we can recall, for example, the works by Vincas Svirskis). Typological variation is one of the outstanding features of Lithuanian folk architecture. 
To satisfy the simple people's insatiable desire for beauty, folk monuments used to be profusely decorated with openwork, contour and relief carvings or turned work ornaments. True, there were crosses, which had no decorative elements whatever, except for the slight ornamentation of the stem, but there were many more in which lavish decorations smothered even the very sign of the cross. Wooden miniature chapels were decorated, as a rule, quite moderately, pillar-type and roofed crosses, on the contrary, used to be decorated rather heavily. The decorative elements on the krikstai, which used to be erected on graves in the coastal districts (the Klaipeda region), made an inseparable part of their construction: the board, which bore the inscription of the deceased person's name, was first painted, then geometrical ornaments or stylized plants and animals were cut out along the
edge. The motifs of decorative elements fall into three groups: (1) geometrical abstract ornaments, (2) stylized birds and animals (grass-snakes and, more rarely, horses), plants (daisies, potted flowers, leaves of various shapes, blossoms and buds), heavenly bodies (suns, moons, stars), and (3) Christian iconographic symbols and ecclesiastical attributes (liturgical vessels, monstrance’s, spears, ladders, etc.). The most popular of them were open-work geometrical ornaments, then followed the stylized plant ornaments and the sun and moon motifs, which were usually masterfully inserted into the iron heads of the monuments.
Through the arrangement of decorative elements the artist strove to concentrate the viewer's attention on the most important part of the monument. Thus, for example, the most heavily decorated part of a cross was usually the point of intersection of the stem and the cross-piece, for this was the place where a model of the crucified Christ or a little chapel with the figures of saints within used to be attached. On a miniature chapel decorations were usually concentrated around the edges of the open side, showing the statuettes within.
The statuettes on the monument were very important, for they expressed its main idea. The chapel, for example, was very often regarded only as a temporary home for the patron saints, which gave them shelter from rain, snow or the wind. In this respect, miniature chapels occupied a unique place amongst small-scale folk architecture. To a farmer only the statues within the chapel seemed to be sacred, so that in troubled times he would save only the saints by bringing them home and leave the chapel to its own fate. It could be the reason why outwardly miniature chapels reminded so much of barns, porches or miniature shrines, i. e. constructions designed to give temporary or permanent shelter to people. Thus, the miniature chapel was, in fact, just a home for the deified statues. The place for the miniature chapel to be installed in was selected and the statuettes were arranged inside so that
they should not resemble a display of stationary exhibits but remind of living beings looking through the window of the chapel at the everyday life of the farmer's family, at the carts passing by on the road and the corn fields stretching far and wide. The windows of the chapel and the glass door were usually adorned with embroidered or lace curtains and paper flowers. The idea was to express love and respect for the humanized gods, and create as much comfort for them as possible. As a rule, miniature chapels contained more than one statue, and they used to be arranged in scenes from Christ's and the saints'
lives. Statuettes are important on pillar-type and roofed pillar-type crosses as well, but on these monuments their emotional impact is usually suppressed by numerous other decorative elements. Here the statuettes lose much of their independent function as the central pieces of the monument and serve mostly as mere decorations.
The semantic and artistic value of the statuettes attached to crosses is even less. The greater number of these monuments have a model of the crucified Christ attached at the intersection of the stem and the crosspiece. Its artistic value depended mostly on the master's ability to handle the same canonized form in any original way.
In the second half of the 19th century, when iron could be afforded by middle-class farmers, iron heads, most often referred to as little suns, became an inalienable part of every miniature chapel, pillar-type cross and roofed pillar-type cross. Very soon iron head forgers managed to attain really high artistic standards. The unity of the wooden and iron parts of the monument was usually ensured by choosing the right scale and the proper proportions in the arrangement of the stylized ornamental motifs.
Small-scale folk monuments usually harmonized quite well with the farm buildings, which was due both to their wellchosen dimensions and similar decorative elements. In ornamentation and composition there was little difference between the monuments and the dwelling houses. We find the same kind of decorations in the trimmings of gables, windows and porches, as well as on household utensils, such as laundry beetles, spinning wheels, distaffs, and furniture - towel hangers, cupboards, dowry chests, chairs, benches, etc.
The unity of the artistic forms used in the exterior and the interior of farmhouses and farmyards was ensured by the continuity of the efforts of many generations. It has become a tradition in Lithuanian folk architecture, which is the best reflection of the spiritual needs of its creators.
This publication in the series of Lithuanian Folk Art is devoted to miniature chapels and crosses. It should be viewed as the second volume of Small-scale Architecture, published in 1970 and devoted to pillar-type and roofed pillar-type crosses. 
Miniature chapels used to be built of bricks, field boulders or wood. The forms of those built of brick are rather simple, without any traces of having been influenced by the prevalent architectural styles. Most of them are rectangular or, more rarely, round. On one or several sides, depending on the visibility of the chapel, there are niches for statuettes.
Every miniature chapel is topped with an iron head, which may be quite simple or, on the contrary, rather elaborate. Brick chapels are usually plastered; when a miniature chapel is built of boulders, the binding seams are nicely molded. Brick and stone chapels, just like other monuments, used to be erected at crossroads, by the wayside or, more rarely, in farmyards or over graves. Very often they were built to adorn the entrance to churchyards and cemeteries. Commissions for brick chapels used to come from village communities, parishes or the local rich. Simple peasants favored wood, which was a cheaper and more traditional building material. Although brick chapels are to be found all over Lithuania,
their number is much less than that of the wooden monuments.
Wooden miniature chapels were usually built on the ground or fixed up in the trees or onto walls. Those on the ground were either rectangular, round or cross-like, with columns or without at the facade, covered with roofs of different configuration (saddle, hipped, broach or conical broach roofs). They also differed from each other in the degree of openness (open at the facade, on three or all the four sides), in the number of stores (one- or two-storied constructions) and the foundation (made of unbound boulders, brick or stone masonry, or just a wood log frame). Outwardly, wooden chapels were rather laconic,
with sparing decorative elements, the ornamentation of the iron heads being the only focal point. This was quite in keeping with the general tendency, observed in the folk architecture of the Lowlands where wooden miniature chapels were the most frequent. This tendency was to seek beauty not so much through an abundance of decorative elements, which was so characteristic of folk architecture in the Highlands, as through the overall harmony of their constituent parts, their admirable proportions and their unity with the natural environment. In this architectural context, the laconic forms of the wooden chapels blended very well with the whole architecture of farmsteads.
Chapels, hoisted in trees, developed in a different direction: as they occurred in every ethnic region of Lithuania, their architectural patterns matched the local architectural traditions. Accordingly, their forms were more varied than those of the chapels built on the ground: they ranged from simple box-like carcasses with saddle roofs to very posh structures immitating Baroque or neo-Gothic constructions.
Wooden crosses, with one or, more rarely, with two or three cross-pieces, were the most frequent forms of memorial architecture in the Lithuanian countryside. They were constructed in different compositional and decorative patterns, which included sculpture and various interpretations of chapel and altar motifs. The latter were used as decorative elements at the intersection of the stem and the crosspiece and served as repositories for statuettes. There were several variations of decorative elements used on crosses: carvings on the stem and the cross-piece, open-work ornaments fixed on the stem, open-work ornamentation of the intersection of the stem and the cross-piece, decorative chapels or altars attached to the main construction, iconographic symbols placed on the sides. Quite frequently several ways of ornamentation were used together on one and the same monument.
Every ethnic region had its own traditions in the use of decorative and compositional patterns. For example, in Eastern Highlands the stem and the cross-piece were very frequently adorned with open-work cuttings. In Dzukija, crosspieces were often supported by spears, which minimized the visual significance of the sign of the cross in the overall composition of the monument. In the Lowlands crosses were less numerous and decorative elements were used on them rather sparingly.
To a large extent, the style of the crosses in every ethnic region was determined by individual masters of outstanding talent who worked there. At the turn of the 20th century one of such masters was Vincas Svirskis, who lived and worked in the districts of Kedainiai and Panevezys. Every single cross made by him was a prominent specimen among the traditional crosses turned out by the other, less gifted, masters of these districts. Although the influence of church Baroque sculpture on Svirskis' crosses was unmistakable, they cannot be said to have been just mere immitations. On the contrary, they were creative interpretations of the decorous Baroque forms blended with the compositional conventions of Lithuanian folk sculpture. Discarding the usual technique of mounting a cross from separate architectural parts and decorative elements, Svirskis took to carving crosses from a solid piece of a tree trunk, most often an oak. He also attached a good deal of importance to the place where the monument was to be erected and its visibility. He sought that his monuments should be equally impressive when viewed from every point of observation.
If the monument was well visible on all the four sides, the master took care to decorate evenly all the four facades; if it was visible on two sides, two facades were decorated; if it was visible only from the front, it was the front that carried all the decorations. In this respect Svirskis broke away from the prevailing Highlands' tradition of erecting crosses where they could be viewed only from the front and, accordingly, of concentrating all the attention on their facades. He preferred to adapt the composition of his crosses to where they were going to stand, and that was his new original method, his trademark so to say. This folk artist built about 200 crosses, each one of them peculiar for its shape, sculptures, bas-reliefs and arrangement.
In Svirkis' monuments the cross, as the main iconographic symbol of Christianity, which had always been the focus point in all the traditional cross compositions, gave way to masterly highreliefs depicting scenes from the life of Christ and the saints, and to the sculptures of popular saints, such as St John the Baptist, St Isidore, St Florian and others. The outward appearance of his statues, their robes and typical postures resembled simple farmers in the Lithuanian countryside. This made them very dear to the hearts of the common people.
The monumental quality of Svirskis' crosses was achieved mostly through the expressive figures of the saints and their elaborate groupings. 
The outstanding talent of this folk artist and his original artistic conceptions could not escape the attention of his contemporaries. But his followers, alas, failed to achieve the artistic heights of their teacher. The original monumental style, created by Vincas Svirskis, did not receive subsequently any appreciable development, most probably because it differed too much from the standard forms of folk architecture and represented a leap in the Lithuanian creative traditions rather than their gradual development.
Wood is not a very durable material; it decays rather quickly, especially when in contact with the soil. In several decades after the erection wooden crosses had to be repaired: their stem had to be shortened by sawing off the decayed lower part. Thus, the proportions of such a cross-changed. The greater number of the 19th century crosses, shown in the photographs of the present publication, have already lost their original height.
Folk monuments of the kind represented in this publication also served the purposes of visual information about the local people's spiritual culture, their aesthetic views and understanding of beauty. Rather a short time ago miniature chapels, crosses, pillar-type and roofed pillar-type crosses  constituted an inseparable part of Lithuanian landscape.
Not only did they bear witness to the high standards of folk artistic traditions and the talent of individual masters, but they also shaped and beautified the rural scenes around them.
A passer-by could not help noticing the aesthetic impact of the monuments on their surroundings simply because they occurred in great numbers, and the variety of themes, depicted in them, their artistic forms and arrangement were just inexhaustible.
In 1938, Prof. Ignas Koncius, who was an enthusiastic recorder of folk small-scale architecture, drew up a list of such monuments which were found at the time by the wayside in the Lowlands. According to this list, there were 3100 monuments west of the Jurbarkas-Erzvilkas-Uzventis-Tryskiai-Lauzuva line (the Klaipeda region excluded). That means that there were 1.3 miniature chapels or some other kind of monuments to every single kilometer. If we add to this number the monuments, which stood at some distance from the roads, in farmsteads and village cemeteries, their general number would amount to 6
or 7 thousand, or 0.4 item to every square kilometer. These impressive numbers could not help leaping into the eye and could not fail to produce a considerable effect on the rural scene.
Only a miserable fraction of this priceless wealth of folk architecture has survived to the present day. In the ethnic area explored by prof. Ignas Koncius mere 0.35-0.5 per cent of the former monuments have been preserved. A little more monuments have remained in farmsteads, churchyards and cemeteries, for there they have been looked after by their owners and patrons.
There were two causes responsible for this drastic decrease in the number of folk monuments: natural causes (wood is a fairly short-lived building material) and, which is much more important, the ideological policy in Lithuania after World War II. A large number of memorial items were purposefully destroyed even as late as the 70's. The construction of new monuments was officially frowned upon, so that in order to avoid trouble, people simply stopped building them. Whatever new monuments appeared in more remote places, at some distance from big roads, they were rather modest, and even poor, from the artistic point of view. In an attempt to save the old wayside crosses and chapels, people used to
transfer them to farmsteads, but this was done only in case their patrons had been individual farmers and they continued to reside in their old homes. Crosses and chapels erected at the sponsorship of village communities were usually, left to their own fate.
Before the war, decayed wooden monuments were usually repaired or replaced by new ones so that their total number remained approximately the same all over Lithuania. When building new crosses, chapels and other monuments, folk masters strove to keep to the traditional artistic forms, for the main principle in folk art were the continuity of its forms, which guaranteed the endurance in the general appearance of the architectural monuments and the rural scene. After the war this natural continuity was broken and the country scene lost one of its most important and characteristic anthropogenetic elements. The builders of the new rural settlements and recreational complexes lost the natural source which enabled them to achieve and perpetuate in the new constructions the traditional folk art forms which blended so well with their natural surroundings. Now we can judge about what we used to
have and what we have lost only from the scanty remains, but mostly we judge about that from the photographs of memorial architectural objects amasses in the stocks of our museums. We have inherited the most valuable collections of photographs of the pre-war crosses and chapels from the ethnographer Balys Buracas, prof. Ignas Koncius, and the artist Adomas Varnas. After World War II folk architecture has mostly been investigated by the Ethnographic department of the Historical Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Lithuanian SSR. Every year Lithuanian museums (Ciurlionis Art Museum in Kaunas; Lithuanian State Art Museum; Lithuanian Historical and Ethnographic Museum) do a lot of field work registering and producing pictorial evidence of the objects of folk memorial architecture. A good deal is done in this respetc by professional photographers and laymen. 
The material contained in this book is arranged according to the typological peculiarities of the monuments. The indication of the location of the object, which is represented in the photograph, enables the reader to form some idea about the regional distribution of certain types of monuments.
The preparation of this art book was started in 1968 by the late prof. Klemensas Cerbi lenas, an indefatigable collector of the evidence of Lithuanian folk architecture in museun and private collections, by Decent Feliksas Bielinskis, an invaluable consultant on the selection of material for this publication, and by Kazys Seselgis. It is a shame the book we not published then. Now when the primitive attitude to the content and forms of folk art and architecture has changed, the publication of this book has become possible at last. Alas, the final selection and arrangement of the material has inevitably been done by the only survivor of the original group of three.
The book is meant for artists, architects, art critics and the public at large, interestec in the heritage of Lithuanian folk culture and its development. It is our hope that it will contribute to the proper  understanding of the enormous wealth created by the talentec hands of simple village people, and will engender a wish to seek ways for its better preservation so that it might serve as an inexhaustible source in the creative efforts to perpetuate and enrich Lithuanian national culture.

Old lithuanian sculpture, crosses and shrine