Baltic Symbols on Black Ceramics


Celebrating Marija Gimbutas’ Centennial and Ancient Ceramics

The Lithuanian Folk Museum (Rumšiškiai), the University of Vilnius, and the Vilnius Art Academy collaborated on a series of workshops in late September. Participants created a modern version of black ceramics with Baltic symbols. A jury commission selected some of the pieces produced for display in exhibitions. The first exhibition, called Signs (Ženklai) are part of the Design Week program, and opened on October 9 at the Academy’s outdoor exhibit area.

Organized in commemoration of Marija Gimbutas’ centennial, the project was meant to promote ancestral folk culture and community as well as teaching younger generations about Baltic symbolism. Included in the program were presentations on Gimbutas’ scientific legacy regarding Old Europe, her direct connections with Kaunas, and her theoretical insights on Baltic culture. The application of Baltic patterns in ceramics brought continuity to this area of folk art with the use of contemporary creative methods.

Photo: Black Ceramics (Photo from

This year is also important for the field of decorative ceramics, which marks its 90th anniversary. This type of art is being promoted at the Vilnius Art Academy and its branch in Kaunas. The Folk Museum is highlighting household ceramics in its displays.

Project curator Neringa Grigarienė was pleased to welcome 28 participants from various parts of Lithuania to the workshops. With the help of design students and professor Remigijus Sederevičius from the Art Academy, participants were able to use a 3D printer technology to create their ceramic pieces.

Ceramic artist Teresė Jankauskaitė, who opened her country studio for participants to fire their ceramic creations, noted that black ceramics are miraculous and unique – coming out of the kiln with varying hues of black, silver and other colours. She feels this branch of ceramics should definitely become part of contemporary design curricula. Students were also excited and inspired by the workshops.

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