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about Suiti Association

Exhibition “Suitu godi”

in Basi tautas nams

For your information: Basi is a populated area, situated in the Gudenieki civil parish, which falls under the Kuldīga district, 20 km away from the district centre. Basi is one of the villages encompassing the cultural-historical area of the Suiti land. The Basi Tautas nams, the local culture centre, is located within the complex of the Birži Manour buildings, at the ancient barn of feed hopper. In 2009 and 2010 the Basi Tautas nams was renovated completely, using the co-funds by the European Union foundations. This is the place for organizing various traditional cultural events, concerts, exhibitions etc.

In June 2019, a cultural-historical exhibition took place in the framework of the Basi Tautas nams opening ceremony for Suitu godi (The Suiti celebrations). Council within the INTERREG project No. EST-LAT 15 of cross-border cooperation programme between Estonia and Latvia, titled “Development and promotion of small ethno-cultural regions as UNESCO tourism destinations”.

Surrounded by the Lutheran Kurzeme, the Suiti turned into a closed Catholic community, thus managing to conserve their individual nature, customs, traditional attires and traditional cultural things and articles in such density and concentration no other Latvian region can compete with.

(Dr. hab. Philol. Janīna Kursīte)

Rich and spectacular, the exhibition Suitu godi in the Basi Tautas nams demonstrates both tangible and intangible culture-historical evidence, typical for the Suiti region only. The exhibition offers a collection of articles relevant for the Suiti celebrations, for instance, a twin cradle, hope chest, coffin, banquet table as an integral part of any celebration. The collection part presenting the Suiti wedding, with the Suiti traditional costumes worn in the wedding celebrations, is especially stunning.

“Suitu godi” exhibition speaks about the four most celebrated events in life of the Suiti community. Each theme is categorized in four different storages, each represented by the sun:

The Morning sun – christening

Christening stands for naming a child and welcoming him or her to the family. As well as to the parish. This involved such significant parts of the tradition as choosing and inviting godparents, going to the church and coming back, pādes dīdīšana or the traditional christening dance with the godchild, hanging the cradle, giving presents for the godchild and the banquet.

The Noon sun – wedding

An important part of the wedding was preparation for it, dowry of the bride, bringing the dowry, seeing off the bride and bridegroom to the church, the church ceremony, waiting up for the newlyweds, the banquet, the first dance, apdziedāšana or singing in a teasing manner, waking up the newlyweds the next morning, mičošana or capping, gift-giving, hanging towels, throwing money, breaking pegs. An old wedding belief says: if on the first wedding day there is fog, the newlyweds will live in prosperity, if sunny, they will live in poverty. Full moon also stood for wealth.

The Evening sun – funeral

The Suiti funeral customs trace back to several centuries, as, similarly to christening, the ritual is intertwined thoroughly with the rites, songs and beliefs of the Catholic Church. The funeral traditions involved preparation for passing away, preparation for the funeral, wake, burial and funeral banquet.

The Suiti sun – the collective work, annual celebrations, ecclesiastical feasts

Although rich in various beliefs and observations, a major part of the customs pertaining to annual celebrations is related to the feasts of Catholic Church. The most popular collective work event was organized to harvest the yield or to remove manure from the cattle-sheds.

The exhibition, rich and spectacular, is formed by the collection of both tangible and intangible evidence of culture-historical value, which characterize the peculiar Suiti community. The exhibition demonstrates the articles relevant to the celebrations, such as the twin cradle, hope chest, coffin, banquet table. The collection part presenting the Suiti wedding, with the Suiti traditional costumes worn in the wedding celebrations, is especially stunning.

The exhibition is complemented by audio-visual content, i.e., historical photo images, depicting the Suiti people in traditional attires, and audio files playing the songs relevant to each celebration.

One of the treasures of this evidence is a film “Dzimtene sauc” also known as “Kāzas Alsungā” (meaning “The Motherland calling”/“Wedding in Alsunga”), shoot in 1935, with appearance of the residents of Alsunga, Jūrkalne, Gudenieki and Basi.

Reservations for visits
Olita Ulmkalne 29266724

Photos from the opening event of Suitu godi culture-historical exhibition on June 19th, 2019

Photos by: Dzintars Leja