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Lielvārde Belt

The Lielvārde belt is regarded as an outstanding example of a hand-woven adornment, a two-colored (red, white), patterned combination with the middle or the edges interwoven with a green or, more rarely,  blue or purple thread, and with a variable motif (geometric pattern). Historically, its geographic distribution was Jumprava, Kastrāne, Krape, Laubere, Lēdmane, Lielvārde, Madliena, Meņģele, and Rembate parishes. Although traditional belts from elsewhere in the country stand out with their rich ornamentation, only the Lielvārde belt has become the basis for a modern myth of the belt’s very ancient origins, the cosmic code that is written into it, and its special powers of protection. In Latvian contemporary culture, the Lielvārde belt leads its own independent, symbolic existence in people’s consciousness and its motifs are often used in contemporary culture.

This independent life began with director Ansis Epners’s documentary “Lielvārdes josta” (The Lielvārde Belt; 1980) whose script was written by Estonian graphic artist Tenu Vint. Comparing the Lielvārde belt ornamentation with other national and cultural patterns, Vint raised the hypothesis that this belt had preserved the information code of an ancient civilization; that the story of the universe was inscribed therein. A German mystic and healer by the name of Dina Ries, encouraged by Latvian Rasma Rozīte, “read” the belt’s ancient information in 1986. The Lielvārde belt was one of the most powerful symbols in the years of Latvian national awakening movement in the late 1980s and has not lost its importance even today.

The information that ornamented belts in antiquity were not used only as a personal adornment but also served to protect the wearer is found in a number of traditions, although that does not necessarily mean that the Lielvārde belt must have been a part of, for instance, a priest’s clothing. The scenario for the origins of the Universe read into the belt; the belt as a meditative system; as a yet untested piece of knowledge of the Universe may or may not be true: much will depend on what and how we want to see. One thing is more or less clear, however: it is the Lielvārde belt that possesses a mythical power far beyond that of other belts and it is not because of the technology used in making it or because of its complicated patterns or beautiful colors, but because of its powerful symbolism.

Janīna Kursīte

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Lielvārdes jostas mīklas. (1991). Rīga: Māksla. (Mākslas bibliotēka).

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Janīna Kursīte par Lielvārdes jostu Latvijas kultūras kanonā, 2008.

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Lielvārdes josta. Lielvārde: Andreja Pumpura Lielvārdes muzejs. Latvijas Nacionālās bibliotēkas Sīkiespieddarbu krājums.

(Latvian) Lielvārdes josta: par igauņu grafiķa un mākslas zinātnieka Tenisa Vinta hipotēzi. ([198-]). Režisors Ansis Epners. No: Latvija manas mājas = Латвия мой дом [videokasete]. [Latvija]. Latvijas Nacionālās bibliotēkas Audiovizuālais krājums, Fvk/616