Latvju Rakstu Ābecīte (An ABC of Latvian Ornaments)Edvards Paegle, Editor, 1939

Cover, designed
by the author

Edvards Paegle's Latvju Rakstu Ābecīte, published by the Latvian Children's Friendship Society, makes up in pictures what it lacks in words—starting with the simplest borders which could be molded into clay, like cueniforms, and progressing through ever more complex variations.

Its purpose?

Mīļie bērni.

Kāda tautasdziesma tā skan: "Tēvu tēvi laipas meta, bērnu bērni laipojās. Tā bērniņi, laipojiet, ka laipiņas nepārlūza."

Tas nozīmē, ka tās gudrās atziņas un pamācības, tās skaistās ierašas, ko tēvi ieguvuši garā mūžadarbā, ko tie iecienijuši savos priekos, mum būs uzglabāt un nodot tāļāk nākošām paaudzēm. Viena no stiprākām un skaistākām laipiņām, ko jūs, bērni, esat mantojuši no saviem senčiem ir raksts, kas svešā vārdā "ornaments" saucas. Šis raksts ir tik vecs, cik veca ir latvju tauta un tik skaists, cik skaistas ir mūsu mīļās tautasdziesmas. Šo rakstu sargāt, glabāt un spodrinātu tālāk dot ir jūsu pienākums.

Šī grāmatiņa, mīļie bērni, ir veltīta jums, lai jūs tanī iepazītos ar mūsu tautasraksta pamata elementiem, lai redzētu kā no punktiņa jeb lāsītes izaug svītriņa, kā tās līmeniskais, stateniskais vai slīpais stāvoklis veido raksta motivus, ko dēvē par saulītēm, zvaigznītēm, ugunskrustiem, ozoļiniem, jumtiņiem, zalktīšiem jeb ķirmāliem, jumīšiem, slotiņām u. t. t. un, viemēr vairāk sarežģijoties rakstā un krāsās, dod tos skaistos ielokus, ko apbrīnojam krāšņās sagšās vai villainēs.

Savu vecāku un skolotāju vadībā, ticu, jūs gūsiet sekmes un jums būs prieks soļot pa drošo tēvutēvu laipiņu, apzinoties, ka ikkatrs solis tuvina jūs mērķim un padziļina jūsu darba un dzīves prieku.

Šinī darbā daudz saules novēl jūsu draugs

E. P.

Paraphrasing the main points from Paegle's introduction... Latvian ornaments are as ancient as the Latvian people, and it is the duty of each generation to preserve and embellish them for the next. The booklet was designed to familiarize children with the basic elements of folk elements and to illustrate the simplest forms and then how one can build up ever more complex and colourful designs like the ones found in Latvian folk costumes.

Paegle closes, hoping that with the guidance of their parents and teachers, children will become proficient, and that this proficiency will bring them happiness in work and life.

About the author

Paegle was born July 26, 1876 in Rūjiena, son of a tenant farmer. He obtained his teacher's credentials in 1908. In 1909 he founded a school in Rīga offering courses in languages and commerce. By 1913 the school already had 1,200 students, and it operated until 1936. Paegle studied English in London (1910-1911), subsequently authoring German, English, and French language textbooks. He published the arts and crafts monthly Latvijas Saule (Latvian Sun) from 1923 to 1931—this booklet is compiled from its contents. He was a long-time Lielvārde resident—weaving the Lielvāŗde pattern sash was a specialty. Paegle participated in arts and crafts exhibitions abroad, organized exhibitions at home, and published a text on Latvian folk art (1928, 1935) which was translated into several foreign languages. The Soviets nationalized his arts and crafts museum in 1940. Like many other Latvians escaping the Soviet reinvasion, Paegle fled to the West, where he eventually settled in Germany after the war. Paegle remained active, publishing brochures to popularize Latvian folk art. He also wrote numerous anti-Communism letters published in the Continental Daily Mail.[1]

Paegle died in Würzburg, Germany, in 1960.[2]


[1]Summarized from Švābe's Latvju Enciklopēdija, vol. 2, p. 1826.
[2]Biographical information at Madonas novadpētniecības un mākslas muzejs site.
...Timeline...Benenson's "Russia Today"Russia Today The Ottawa Citizen, 1931. Canadian émigré A. Benenson expresses alarm over Polish armaments and sorrow over Latvia's post-WWI de-industrialization in a letter to the editior from his new homeland. Freedom MonumentBrīvības Piemineklis (Freedom Monument), Jānis Siliņš. Brīvības Pieminekļa Komiteja, 1935. Art critic Jānis Siliņš' detailed discussion of the Freedom Monument, published by the Freedom Monument Committee. Stalin–Howard InterviewThe Stalin—Howard Interview. Friends of the Soviet Union, 1936. Roy W. Howard's interview of Joseph Stalin, March 1st, 1936, originally carried in U.S. and Soviet news media and subsequently published by the Friends of the Soviet Union under the provocative title J. Stalin—Is War Inevitable?. Reading between the lines and redaction by the Chief Censor of the Soviet Union, Stalin admits to not achieving Communism and resorts to memory lapses and protestations of absurdity when confronted with the USSR's failure to comply with its commitment to respect the U.S. First Arts & Crafts ExhibitionPirmās Latvijas Daiļamatniecības Izstādes Katalogs [The First Latvian Arts and Crafts Exhibition Catalog]. Valstspapīru Spiestuve, Riga. 1937.Essays on the exhibition and on aspects of traditional arts and crafts. In Latvian. B&W and color plates of exhibit objects. Latvia For TouristsLettland für Reisende, Latvian government tourist brochure, ca. 1937. Latvia sought to regain its pre-WWI stature as a tourist destination—its Gauja river valley having been known as the "Livonian Switzerland." The brochure features sights, activities, a brief history of Latvia, and information for German tourists. An ABC of Latvian OrnamentsLatvju Rakstu Ābecīte [An ABC of Latvian Ornaments]. Latviešu Bērnu Draudzības Savienība. 1939.A child's primer on the basics of Latvian ornaments and examples of how more complex forms are then constructed. In Latvian. Facsimile. Molotov–Ribbentrop PactMolotov-Ribbentrop Pact, 1939. Text of the secret protocol carving up Eastern Europe between Stalin and Hitler. The First Months of the WarThe First Months of the War, Mr. Munters Speaks at the University, 1940. Foreign Minister Vilhelms Munters' speech at the University of Latvia, asking, infamously : "I should like to ask, where now is the sovietisation against which we were warned...?" Letters on Birch Bark In Siberia Written Letters on Birch Bark, UNESCO Latvia. Birch bark was often the only material to write on. Background on deportations, the letters, and a gallery of photos. EXTERNAL SITE Holocaust in Latvia (HAOLUSA.ORG) Prof. Andrew Ezergailis' web site on the Holocaust in LatviaScholarship on the Holocaust in Latvia: essays, letters, reviews. Prof. Ezergailis is the pre-eminent scholar in this field. EXTERNAL SITE Soviet War NewsThe Soviet Union, Finland, and the Baltic States. Soviet Information Bureau. Soviet War News, 1941. In a monograph published after the Winter War and toward the end of its first occupation of the Baltic states, the Soviet Union blames the Finns and Balts for their troubles, only the Soviets have consistently engaged in "neighbourly relations," rebuffed by its neighbors at every turn. A classic study in Stalinist propaganda and a version of history still familiar in official Russian rhetoric.
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