Preili Museum of History and Applied Arts (Latvia), Grodno State Museum of the History of Religion (Belarus) and Panevezys Local Lore Museum (Lithuania) joint virtual exhibition – pottery.


Preili Museum of History and Applied Arts


In Latgale, the folk pottery, which has been developed over a long period of time, has survived to this day. It has developed in two directions – practical and, since the 1930s, also decorative. The brightest examples of decorative pottery are a candle holder, a whistle (a clay whistle in the form of an animal or a bird, or a mythical creature), a wall or table plate, a set of dishes, also a vase or a flower pot. Since the 1930s, the works of Latgale potters can be seen not only in exhibitions in Latvia, but they also travel to other countries of the world. The largest exhibition of Latgale ceramics in Western Europe takes place in 1937 at the World’s Fair in Paris, where ceramic Andrejs Paulāns receives a diploma and a gold medal. The profession of pottery is often inherited from generation to generation, so to this day we can speak of the families of potters. The largest folk pottery center not only in Latgale, but also in the whole of Latvia is located in the vicinity of Lake Feimaņi. Whole families of potters have formed here (for example, Paulani, Ušpeļi, Vilcāni, Čerņavski), which have produced many notable potters during the last century. In terms of artistic language, this area is united and has entered the literature of art history as “Silajāņi pottery”. The ceramic collection of Preili Museum of History and Applied Arts contains 398 objects, and a significant part of it consists of the works of Silajāņi ceramics.


A beer mug with a whistle. 1960s. Andrejs Paulāns (1896-1973).


The relief depicts a hunting scene, white clay glaze, decorated with a zigzag, scratched pattern, ornament of pressed holes. Covered with a copper green. Andrejs Paulāns was born in Šembeļi village, Silajāņi parish, Rēzekne district. The potter learned his work skills from his father – the famous potter Izidors Paulāns. He began to work intensively with pottery in 1918. Starting from 1933, he participated in exhibitions not only in Latvia, but also abroad. In the 1930s he became the leading potter in Latgale and Latvia. 1958 admitted to the Artists’ Union. A. Paulāns made mugs, flower vases, multi-branched candle holders, decorative wall plates, but a special place in A.Paulāns’ works is occupied by whistles and everyday scenes created in figural compositions. After the death of A. Paulāns, his workshop in 1974 was transferred to Rainis Museum in Jasmuiza.


Potter Polikarps Čerņavskis at his candle holder. 1996.


The photo was taken at the ceremony honouring the old master of ceramics Polikarps Čerņavskis (1923-1997) in Preili after receiving the Order of the Three Stars on March 4, 1996. P. Čerņavskis was born in Jurīši village, Silajāņi parish, Rēzekne district. He learned the craft from his godfather, the potter Polikarps Vilcāns (1894–1969). Worked in Babri, Silajāņi parish. In 1983 he moved to Preili, where he established his own ceramics school. P. Čerņavskis devoted most of his creative life to decorative ceramics. He made vases, mugs, candle holders, wall plates, tableware, and at the end of his life he was engaged in small sculpture. He has participated in exhibitions since 1942. The most important: in Rezekne, Riga, Geneva, Moscow, Vilnius, Kaunas, Romania, Poland, Germany. The successors of his work Jāzeps Caics and Raivo Andersons still work in the workshop of Polikarps Čerņavskis in Preiļi, where the exposition of Preili Museum of History and Applied Arts dedicated to his work is also located. Photo: Igors Pličs.


Decorative bowl with a lid “Bread Path”. 1988. Antons Ušpelis (1944-2015).


A. Ušpelis received his education at the ceramics department of Rēzekne School of Applied Arts. Since 1964, he has participated in many exhibitions in Latvia and abroad, as well as in local and international fairs. In 1972 he was admitted to the Latvian Artists’ Union. The bowl is made in the form of a traditional bread bowl. Antons Ušpelis dedicated this decorative ceramic bread bowl to the memory of his grandfather Aleksandrs Kancāns. On the lid are female and children’s figures, the inscription “My grandfather’s life in the old field…”, a plastic zigzag at the top of the bowl, surrounded by a relief composition with plots: plowing the earth, sowing seeds, mowing, threshing grain, grinding grain, kneading dough. The dish can be seen in the exposition of the Preili Museum of History and Applied Art “Museum Stories for Latvia”


Hrodna State Museum of the History of Religion


The Pottery Museum Collection of the Grodno State Museum of the History of Religion began to form in 1977. It is based on artifacts made of clay, porcelain, and faience (sculpture, dishes, art and craft items, household items, souvenirs, toys, including penny whistles). At the beginning of 2021, the Pottery Museum Collection numbered about 1,500 museum items, including items created by local craftsmen in accordance with folk traditions, as well as industry samples used mainly in urban environments.


Cupid with a baby goat
Berlin. 1763-1765
Porcelain, glaze. Firing, polychrome painting


Among the most valuable items in the collection is the figurine “Cupid with a baby goat” (Berlin, 1763-1765) from the “Seasons of the Year” series. The European porcelain appeared not earlier than 1709 and items made from it were a luxury for a long time. The presented “Cupid” was part of a pair composition and depicts autumn in allegorical form. The composition was complemented by “Girl with a lamb”, which was associated with spring. Friedrich Elias Meyer is considered to be the author of the model on which the figurine was created. He was a talented sculptor who worked at the Meissen Porcelain Manufactory in 1748-1761 and in 1763 he moved to Berlin. Porcelain cupid figurines were produced for centuries. Even after World War II, cupids remained the favorite heroes of plots captured in porcelain.


Pot called “sparysh”
Pruzhany of the Brest Oblast. 1984.
Clay. Firing, glossing


The item was made by the famous folk master, hereditary potter Anton Tokorevsky (1904-1984). It is made in the archaic technique of smoked black ceramics, which continues to be used in some regions of Western Belarus.

Sparyshes are pottery vessels consisting of 2 or 3 pots (occasionally salt shakers included) of the same or different size, which are fastened together with a handle. They were used to bring food to the field during haymaking or harvesting. The pots were often made with lids.

Initially, the term “sparysh” was used for a double grain or double ear, a symbol of fertility. In the mythology of the Eastern Slavs, the name Sparysh was given to the spirit of the harvest endowed with the ability to provide “spor” (germ), i.e. harvest and wealth, well-being and happiness.


Head-shaped jug
Russia. The last third of the 19thcentury.
Faience, glaze. Stucco molding, firing, polychrome painting


In the second half of the 19century, faience ware was popular in the urban environment of the Russian Empire. The faience vessels depicted the heroes of the works of famous writers in a satirical form. Probably, the presented artifact reflects this fashion and interprets the image of the landowner Nozdrev from Gogol’s “Dead Souls”.

The stamp in the form of a two-headed eagle on the bottom of the item indicates that it was produced not earlier than 1872, when the Kuznetsov partnership received the right to use the state emblem for high quality products.

The vessel was made at the factory that belonged to the Kuznetsov family of the Old Believers. By the end of the 19century, this family owned enterprises that produced pottery in Moscow, Tver, Yaroslavl, and Kharkov provinces. In 1841, a branch of the factory was opened in Riga, which eventually became the largest center of porcelain and faience production in the Russian Empire. The products of the Kuznetsovs’ factories were of quite good quality; therefore they were in great demand.


Panevėžys Local Lore Museum


Ceramic tableware, furnacetiles, a mass of ceramic material and ceramic pot fragments are stored in the Archeology Collection of the Panevėžys Local Lore Museum. Ceramic tableware and their fragments were found in the historical part of Panevėžys city during archeological research. Based on the found ceramics material, it can be said, that during 16th and 17th centuries dominated less ornamented, mostly unglazed pots. From late 17th century to 18th century, glazed dishes and their fragments are more often found in the cultural layers of the city. Since the 19th century faience and porcelain dishes were common,but in the household were mostly used ceramic tableware, fired in a reduction atmosphere. The exhibition presents pottery found in various places of Panevėžys city during 2018–2020.


Panevėžys city orthodox old cemetery environmental pottery


In 2018, archaeological excavations were carried out in the northeast part of the Orthodox old cemetery in Panevėžys city in the area of 1495 square meters. 17th – 20th century coins, rings, postal seals, copper buttons, pentine, household tools (spoons, thimbles, combs, lock, stone sharpener, pliers), binding, belt buckle, glassware (34 pcs.), millstones (4 pcs.) and animal bones were found in different cultural layers. The majority of the discovered finds consisted of ceramic articles and their fragments: tile parts, ceramic tableware, ceramic pipe and ceramic shards (160 pcs.). Ceramic pots and their fragments were found in an intense 145 centimeter-thick cultural layer, which formed from 2nd quarter of the 19th century to 4th decade of the 20th century.


The oldest ceramic fragments of dishes panevezio freedom square


In 2019, on the northwest side of the Panevėžys Freedom square, in surf no. 29 archeological researches revealed the upper horizon of the 18th century – early 19th century cultural layer which was damaged by 50 cm thick excavations and the 52 cm thick dark soil with clay bottom layer of late 16th century – 17 th century. In these layers at a depth of 156–180 cm were found various size fragments of unglazed pottery: bottoms (2 pcs.), bottom-parts (6 pcs.) and side wall fragments (11 pcs.). At a depth of 165–180 cm were found side walls of pottery and fragments with top-edge. Two fragments differed from others with wavy line embossed ornaments in side walls. These pot fragments are exclusive examples of early local pottery in Panevėžys city. Pots were used for cooking and storing food.


Ceramic Products Found In Republic Street, Panevėžys


In 2020 in the historical part of Panevėžys – the Respublikos Street during archeological research the fragment of brick masonry from second half of the 19th – first half of the 20th century was unearthed.Fixed farm pit with finds from second half of the 18th century – first half of the 20th century.A total of 68 findings were found during the research (glassware, coin, post seals, pottery fragments, furnace tiles, nail). A massive glazed pot and fragments of an ornate porcelain dish were found in surf no. 1. An ornate porcelain dish, glazed with blue and gray glaze, was restored from the fragments found. At its side walls and on the edge, there is an embossed decoration – a lion’s head.


About the project ENI-LLB-1-244 “Promotion of historical and culture cross border through museums innovations

The project aims to build a cross border cooperation platform creating preconditions for ensuring the increasing interest of tourists and visitors about the cultural and historical heritage in the border area of Latvia, Lithuania and Belarus.

This project is funded by the European Union

Project budget: 367 864.64 EUR, EU funding 331 078.17 EUR

Project implementation period: 1 of June 2020 – 31 of May 2022

European Neighbourhood Instrument Cross-border Cooperation Programme Latvia-LithuaniaBelarus 2014-2020;