About national heritage

Speedy development processes of science and technologies, globalization of the world raises challenges to country and nation. That forces to look for the ways how to keep Lithuanian national individuality. Nowadays in modernizing world national heritage gives to nation originality and exclusivity.

From the old times Lithuania is famous with it’s ceramic, textile, smithery, jewelry wares. Lithuanian cross-making and cross symbolic, song festivals, glees are included in to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) immaterial humanity heritage masterpieces list.

In the year 2007 Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania adopted law of national heritage products which ensures governmental protection of national heritage products, enables to preserve and propagate accumulated experience in national crafts in the same time giving to it contemporary significance, gives governmental help and gives favorable conditions to traditional craftsmen to create, realize and popularize products of national heritage.

Government of the Republic of Lithuania, with the aim to foster traditional crafts in national level, approved program of protection, development of national crafts and their market, for the years 2012-2020 by the decision. Ministry of Agriculture of Republic of Lithuania, ministry of Culture, ministry of Economy, ministry of Environment, Lithuanian State department of tourism under the ministry of Economy, municipalities and other institutions take part in implementing of above mentioned program.

Products of national heritage are certified wares made by craftsmen which have unique quality characteristic and structure, are not mass production, handmade from traditional raw materials or by using old or equivalent to them new technologies. Ministry of Agriculture of Republic of Lithuania performs National heritage products institution functions from the 1st of January the year 2008. Now it’s already five years when law of National heritage products was adopted therefore we can already talk about results and positive changes in this field – certification of National heritage and governmental help. This day more than 1600 wares made by more than 500 traditional craftsmen were certified and acknowledged as products of National heritage.

Traditional craftsmen whose wares are acknowledged as products of National heritage receive governmental help for publications, organizing of traditional crafts teaching programs, participation and presentation of their products in various exhibitions and other events in Lithuania and abroad. Each year Products of National heritage are presented in Vilnius and Kaunas cities “Kaziuko” street fair, “AgroBalt”, “Sea festival” in Klaipeda, international folk music festival “Skamba, skamba kankliai” in traditional fair “Baltramėjaus” in Vilnius and other regions of the country. Products of National heritage are also presented in other countries: Germany, Russian federation, Belgium, Poland, Ireland and others.

20 municipalities give support for the establishment of traditional crafts centers.

One of the problems, which was noticed by experts of traditional crafts is that traditional craftsmen do not know how (are unable) to compete in the market and sell their wares. Another problem is hand over of the tradition. Some technologies of producing of natural heritage products are not transferred to the young generation, also there is now way and now place where to learn about others, therefore some of traditional crafts and traditional services are vanishing or already become extinct. On the other side interest in national crafts is grooving in the society so the need for the craftsman to grasp even the oldest technologies of producing of traditional wares is growing.

To solve these problems support from European agriculture fond for the development of rural areas is given to municipalities according Countryside development program for the establishment of traditional crafts centers. In the years 2007-2013 EU support amount was over 12 million Lt, accordingly 3, 475 mln. euro, and was assigned to establish 20 traditional crafts centers with the aim to allow comprehensive cooperation between craftsman who cherish traditions, to hand over traditional crafts to the youth, although to sell produced wares in crafts centers shops. Nowadays there are really few such shops in Lithuania. One of the tasks of such centers is organizing of e-commerce of traditional wares – so we expect that Lithuanian traditional wares will reach foreign markets.

Development of crafts is also supported by Countryside development program. A higher intensity of support is given to investments that are directly related to the certified traditional crafts.

Traditional crafts are one of alternative activities and can yield substantial positive economic and social benefits to rural areas. These activities give new workplaces and source of income to rural area residents. Other important aspect is that producing of traditional crafts wares enables to uphold ethnical culture values.

Big hopes in development of national heritage development are in strengthening of interactions between traditional craftsmen and farmsteads sectors. It would be great if vacationers could purchase wares produced by local craftsman in the same farmstead or could receive information where in neighborhood they can buy authentic articles. Of course visitors of farmsteads are interested in food – it would be a big advantage if vacationer could taste dishes specific for this countryside. So one of the goals razed up by Ministry of Agriculture is to present national heritage products together with tourism services in international exhibitions, fairs and publications also to promote co-operation between producers of national heritage and countryside tourism developers in other ways.

According national heritage experts basic – Europe is seeking not for similarity between nations, but for individuality. Traditional crafts are an ideal form of expression of local individuality. In today's context they become an attractive alternative to consumer’s culture which is increasingly strengthening but in the same time is losing self-confidence. So evaluation of traditional crafts naturally arises in society. Especially when they fit nicely with nowadays extremely fashionable ecology, naturalism and other ideas. Today Lithuania can successfully be presented by cross-making, weaving, wood carving, jewelry wares and culinary heritage.

However state has to contribute to increase national heritage prestige in society. One of the steps in this direction is awards for most successful traditional craftsman founded by Ministry of Agriculture. Representative publication “Lithuanian national heritage: traditional crafts” published in the year 2012 together with the Lithuanian national museum.

In forming of an attractive national heritage image in country and abroad cooperation not only between state institutions but also between emigrants, business, and institutions representing interests of craftsman is important.