The amber treasure of Juodkrante, Lithuania

In the Baltic Art Centre of Vilnius and in the museums of amber of Nida and Vilnius you can view collections of ancient and modern amber, real works of art.

The tradition of the production of human and animal figures in amber jewelry was born as early as the fourth millennium BC. by the people of Narva. The mysterious appearance of amber with its unusual characteristics (when burnt it spreads a pleasant scent, when held in the hand it is always warm) made an impression in the old hunting and fishing culture of Narva. One of the largest collections of historical value is that of the “Treasure of Juodkrante”, 434 pieces of Neolithic amber (III millennium BC) found between 1860-81 thanks to a company that had started to extract amber from the village of Juodkrante in Curonian peninsula.

For a long time no one has understood the enormous archaeological value of this collection and the workers of the quarries sold them to tourists as the peculiarities of Juodkrante.

Today the collection has been lost while some is in the museum in Ribnitz Damgarden in Germany, but for 30 years the couple Kazimieras and Virginija Mizgiriai have dedicated their lives to rebuild the precious collection.

The treasure consists of raw amber, pendants of various shapes, carved animals and double buttons with smooth surfaces or stippled (one part was well polished, while inside there were 2 V-shaped holes so that from the outside it could not be seen). These buttons were used for aesthetic purposes: in some graves clothes were found with over 300 buttons.

Other ornaments were made of dots and lines: symbols of life, fertility, celestial bodies and natural phenomena. They used a disc to do decorations with on the eyes of the dead to protect them from evil.

The treasure of Juodkrante marks the birth of the culture of amber in the Baltic and was the beginning of the Amber Way: a path that is the first cultural integration in all of Europe.

(This article by Ramune Kupsyte is reproduced under licence from Energitismo Limited)