Suiti cultural heritage


Signing tradition in the Suiti district was earlier classified in two types: singing and ziņģāšana. Long songs consisting of several verses and lyrics characterized by plot were called ziņģes here. Yet, it did not matter, whether the ziņģe was a popular song or written by a known composer.

Men had to sing ziņģes (ziņģāt – the verb) and women – songs, as women were supposed to be better at calling, inflection, drawing out (scientifically called drone singing), while men – at ziņģes singing. Mostly females were singing. Males sang less (because they sang ziņģes). Boys usually sang teasingly about girls; the nature of such songs was more homogenous, respectively. Women sang more and their songs were more versatile, dealing with different fields of life and domestic issues.

It took several singers, to perform folk songs. A song was introduced by a saucēja (caller). Right after having sung/called the first two lines of a verse, the saucēja paused, and the same lines were repeated by the locītāja (incliner). Simultaneously the vilcējas (the ones who were drawing out) sang their part – prolonged sound of ae. Sometimes the saucēja helps the locītāja to repeat the song lyrics. Good saucējas and locītājas were greatly respected and were often invited to weddings, even, if they were not related to the family.

Although such singing techniques may seem dull and monotonous, actually they were not. Our folk songs express their full aesthetical value only, when lyrics and musical sounds are heard and the respective action is performed (like in opera) simultaneously, for instance, in wedding ceremonies etc. Moreover, the saucējas and locītājas should act well and use facial expressions and gestures while performing each song. This type of saucējas and locītājas were in great demand for weddings.

Singing folk songs at weddings made a huge impression and set the mood. For example, when seeing off the bride to wedding ceremony and lifting her on horseback, the women seeing her off were singing sentimental lines addressed to the bride’s mother. The ritual activity combined with the singing sounds touched the present people to the core. I am not sure, whether there exist similar practices in foreign traditions. While keeping quiet for the most part, males were listening to the maidens’ singing attentively. This type of folk art educated us in terms of ethics and moral values.

The Suiti district has a unique written collection of more than 52 thousand folk songs and their varieties. They include various folk songs for different life events, as well as 113 ancient ziņģes with notes, comments and data on the persons, who told the ziņģes, are published in “Dziesminiece Veronika Porziņģe” book by Dace Nasteviča.