Devils in Amber: The Baltics


"Amber and devils - gintaras ir velnis. These may well be the unofficial symbols expressing the irrepressible spirit for survival and endurance of the three Baltic nations tucked away in northern Europe, especially of Lithuania. Amber is the petrified resin from the pine trees of prehistoric times in which, reading the insects, fragments of leaves and even coins caught in it, one can detect the presence of Man before he himself knew how to record his existence. Christianity, which came late to the Baltics, also brought in the Devil. Christianity was forced on pagan Lithuania at the end of the 14th century. To compensate for the loss of their pagan god, Perkunas, the Baltic people seized on the devil in whom to deposit their sense of rebellion, preserve their irreducible, ultimate refusal to bow to the Christian god. All through the Baltic countryside one comes upon little shrines devoted to Christ and Mother Mary. In the log homes, sharing the same living space as Christ and Mary, one will also encounter the leering, pagan, gargoylish face of the Devil: united in opposition, forever the opposite poles of the same faith. One can almost paraphrase the entire history of the Baltics in these two images. There is a perversity, stubbornness, paganism in their histories that shapes them still. In this book we see evidence of all three qualities, which has guaranteed their survival, even though several times they have brought them almost to the edge of extinction as well. The period which has now just begun is the period of greatest peril. This history tells us why." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Additional information

Includes content by:
  • Vincas Mykolaitis-putinas
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • New York
Publication year:
  • 1992


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