Stars and cosmos




Preili Museum of History and Applied Arts (Latvia) and Panevezys Local Lore Museum (Lithuania) joint virtual exhibition – stars and cosmos.


Preili Museum of History and Applied Arts


Per aspera ad astra or through thorns to the stars - this saying has inspired humanity for more than 2,000 years to reach new heights, which were very important in the 1960s when the United States and the Soviet Union fought for a conquer of the stars in the Cold War. The collection of the Preili Museum of History and Applied Art also contains evidences of this important period, which marked a new milestone in the history of all mankind.


1. Coin. 1 ruble. In honour of the twentieth anniversary of the first manned flight of a man in space. 1981. In April 1961, the Soviet astronaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in history to make the first successful manned space flight, flying around the globe in space and successfully landing in the Saratov region. The most important elements of this event – the launcher, the capsule, the starry sky and the astronaut's spacesuit are depicted in the design of this ruble coin.




2. Coin. 1 ruble. In honour of the twentieth anniversary of the first manned space flight of a woman. 1983. Literally immediately after J. Gagarin's flight, the first flight in space piloted by a woman took place. This was done by the Soviet astronaut Valentina Tereshkova, the flight lasting significantly longer than J. Gagarin. In 1983, commemorating the twentieth anniversary of this flight, a coin was issued




3. Pencil sharpener in the form of a rocket. The artificial satellites of the Earth, the space adventures of J. Gagarin and V. Tereshkova and the landing of US astronauts on the surface of the moon in 1969 are undoubtedly the most significant events of the space conquest race. It is expected that the theme of space also gained its reflection in the design of many other everyday objects and things, for example, in the pencil sharpener of Silvija Caunane, an 8-year-old school student from Galeni. It is in the form of a stylized rocket with an opening at the base for sharpening the pencil, while the tip can be used to collect pencil cuts. The sharpener was purchased and used in the 1960s at the peak of the space era.





Panevėžys Local Lore museum




The most important celestial bodies visible to the human eye – sun, moon and stars – are most often found in Lithuanian ethnocosmology and they are reflected in a variety of symbolic signs – cosmograms. Cosmograms, that are symbolizes sun, moon and stars are mostly found in folk art. Sun and moon shaped crosses are minted by the masters of artistic blacksmithing, and the tops of sacred monuments are decorated with this type of crosses. Octagonal stars are embroidered, knitted or crocheted in textile patterns: ribbons, bedspreads, gloves and lace. Segmented sun ornaments were carved on decorating spindles, battledores or on other wooden household items, Easter eggs are decorated by the sun ornaments too. These symbols have been gained from ancient times and they convey the archaic worldview of the Baltics.

Heaven and earth are connected by the mythological Tree of the World. The sun, the moon, the stars are usually found in its upper part - in the celestial sphere – and symbolize the upper world of the gods. And the daily life of a person flows in the space under the sun (It`s not surprising that Lithuanian word „pasaulis“ (en. The World) literally means „under the sun“). But while living in the world, people are constantly looking to the sky.

From the Stone Age to the present, earthworks were arranged according to the lunar calendar, calendar holidays were celebrated by the sun’s journey through the sky vault (summer and winter solstice, spring and autumn equinoxes), people also gave Lithuanian names to the stars and constellations: Venus – Aušrinė and Vakarinė, Orion – Šienpjoviai, Cassiopeia – Jukštandis, Perseus – Kūlėjai, Pleiades – Sietynas, Pegasus – Stalas, etc. The life here on the Earth would be too gray and miserable would if we did not raise our eyes to the sun, moon, or stars, if our minds and hearts wouldn’t lean towards God.


1. Tops of crosses. Iron. 19th century, Panevėžys d., Photos by T. Stasevičius. 2012. The tops of the sacred monuments, also called “suns“, combine many symbols: a cross (an archaic sign of fire or sun), a crescent (the young moon is a symbol of a new beginning) and the meandering rays, called grass-snakes (a symbol of vitality). And these rays often have ends with stars, buds, leaves or little crosses.


These various signs on the iron tops of the monuments merge into a single symbolic representation of the Tree of Life. Such monuments were usually built in cemeteries, where the worlds of the living and the dead meet in the face of eternity.




2. Easter eggs. When Easter Eggs are decorated by applying wax or by scratching paint, usually the symbols of spring vitality are used, for example: grass-snakes, bird's feet, buds or flowers.

However, the most common motif is the sun, which symbolizes the life on the earth, that is awakened by the sun.


Easter eggs. Goose eggs, decorated by Gražina Kudrickienė. Panevėžys, the 1990s. Photo by G. Kartanas, 2022.



Easter egg. Chicken eggs, decorated by Gražina Kudrickienė. Panevėžys, the 1990s. Photo by G. Kartanas, 2022.




3. Home textiles. The motif of an octagonal star is most often found in home textiles, symbolizing the four countries of the world and the four seasons and that all means the eternity. Octagonal star patterns were used when weaving ribbons, bedspreads and towels, knitting sweaters, gloves and wristbands, and crocheting lace. This is one of the most popular pattern in Northern Lithuania.


Bedspread. Four-heddled woven. Wool, cotton. 1930s. Photo by G. Kartanas 2022.




Gloves. Wool. Panevėžys, 1980s. Photo by G. Kartanas 2022.




Lace. Cotton. 1930s. Photo by G. Kartanas, 2022.






This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Preili County council and Panevėžys Local Lore Museum and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.



About the project ENI-LLB-1-244 “Promotion of historical and culture cross border through museums innovations

The project aims to build a cross border cooperation platform creating preconditions for ensuring the increasing interest of tourists and visitors about the cultural and historical heritage in the border area of Latvia and Lithuania.


This project is funded by the European Union

Project budget: 367 864.64 EUR, EU funding 331 078.17 EUR

Project implementation period: 1st of June 2020 – 31st of May 2022

European Neighbourhood Instrument Cross-border Cooperation Programme Latvia-Lithuania 2014-2020








Information prepared by:

Preili Museum of History and Applied Arts: https://preili.lv/nozares/kultura/muzeji/preilu-vestures-un-lietiskas-makslas-muzejs/ 

Panevėžys Local Lore Museum: http://www.paneveziomuziejus.lt/ 










Informaciją parengė:

Preilių istorijos ir taikomosios dailės muziejus: https://preili.lv/nozares/kultura/muzeji/preilu-vestures-un-lietiskas-makslas-muzejs/

Panevėžio kraštotyros muziejus: http://www.paneveziomuziejus.lt/


Easter egg. Chicken eggs, decorated by Gražina Kudrickienė. Panevėžys, the 1990s. Photo by G. Kartanas, 2022.