Aleks Byrd Illustration

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Latvia Star Map

Similar to Estonia, neighboring Latvia also has distinct patterns for each of its many parishes. I chose to create a map of the various eight-point stars as I did with Estonia as these countries have patterns that have been well organized by location as in the number of designs in existence..

latvia star map.jpg

I was able to obtain this data of stars and locations from the book Mittens of Latvia: 178 Traditional Designs to Knit by Maruta Grasmune. In the book Grasmune makes the comment about designs being unique to cultural identity and local identity but also connected to the larger region (Scandinavia, nordic countries) and globally. 

The symbolic language of mittens incorporates not only characteristics of the Latvian worldview but also elements/ features representing the perspectives of other nations. In the modern globalization era, one of the shared ‘codes’ by which we can understand each other is the symbolic language of mittens. Latvia’s mitten colours differ from those used on the Island of Sarema or in Iceland. But in the patterns of the mittens themselves there is much more of what we have in common than what separates us.(pp.x)

Latvians have a very poetic sense in talking about the language of the symbolism of their mittens designs as well as  how they are relate to the to the wider cultural landscape (nordic region) as seen in this quote. This is the first instance that I have seen a direct statement of designs and patterns being part of a shared history or language. In other reading, most traditions and cultures present their history in relation to patterns of cultural identity with a brief vague statement that influences may have come from trade with other places in the region. While every culture wants to present itself and its visual identity as unique, through this research and particularly creating these maps brings back the idea that there is a larger connection between these various cultures seen in this one field of practice, colourwork knitting.  Even though there is an obvious similarity seen, most evident with the motif of the eight-point star, the "hybridity" that has occurred when these motifs encountered its new culture or place create unique variations or better yet a variety of hybrids.


References:

Grasmane, M. (2012) Mittens of Latvia: 178 Traditional Designs to Knit. Riga: Riga National Costume Centre.

Map:

'Statistical regions of Latvia'(2012) Wikipedia. Available at :https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statistical_regions_of_Latvia (Accessed 4 December 2017).