Latvian girl wearing a national costume. Latvia is located just west of Russia and north of Lithuania. This doll is wearing a wool skirt and long-sleeved white blouse, which are common in cultures in this part of the world. She has a fringed wool blanket wrapped around her body. It is pinned at her should with a round silver decorative circle. She has a matching (smaller) pin at the neck of her blouse. The doll has porcelain head and extremities; her torso is stuffed cloth. On her head, she has a woven band of cloth with silver appliques. She has long, curled synthetic hair. Tag: “Collectable Doll designed with love by artist; detailed made by hand and painted. Porcelain doll with Latvian national dress, Tautumeita.”
Location: Baltic Europe
Main language: Latvian
Construction: ceramic, cloth
Height in Centimeters: 20
Height in Inches: 8
Reading Level: 7.20
My name is Alise, and I live in Latvia. I am dressed up in the national costume. I have a woolen shawl with colorful trim, an embroidered cap, and silver brooches. Today is the National Song and Dance Festival. The Festival will be held in our capital city, Riga. I will dance with all of my friends.
Some of the costumes at the festival will be a little different than mine. That’s because my country has been ruled by so many other countries and cultures. The ruling countries include Germany, Poland, Sweden, Nazi Germany, and Russia. Each of these countries left some impact on our culture, language, and customs. It wasn’t until 1991 that our independence from the Soviet Union was finally recognized.
Although my grandparents lived through the terror of wars and occupation, they never gave up hope. Their dream was for Latvia to be an independent country. Their faith was not in politics, but in the legend of a super hero, called Bear-Slayer ( Lacplesis). Long ago, a Latvian named Andrejs Pumpurs, wrote a poem about Bear-Slayer’s incredible strength.
Bear-Slayer was a super hero with big ears that looked just like the ears of a giant bear. He fought and won many battles against the Germans who invaded Latvia 800 years ago. He was loyal to Latvia and very strong. When the Germans kidnapped his girlfriend, he went to Rome to rescue her. However, after they were married, an evil man (named Black Knight) came to destroy Bear-Slayer. Black Knight knew that Bear-slayer’s magical power would be lost without his bear ears. In a big fight, the Black Knight cut off Bear-Slayer’s ears. Then they both fell off the cliff and into the waters at Staburag.
With the Bear-Slayer gone, the Germans and other “strangers” from foreign lands took over Latvia. According to the poem:
The Strangers gained the upper hand,
And ruled as lords, cruel and depraved:
The well-loved people of the land,
For centuries were all enslaved.
However, the legendary poem ends with hope for the future. Latvians believed that one day the Bear-Slayer would rise up out of the river. Then Latvia could be free once again.
But still, the day will come, is sure,
When the Black Knight will be cast down:
In Staburags’s raging water,
The deadly foe alone will drown.
Then for the folk new times will dawn;
At last their freedom will be born.
Latvians love to tell the story of the Bear-Slayer. During the recent Soviet occupation, it gave them hope that they would be able to slay the “bear” and be independent.