‘Jānis Krēsliņš. The Custodian of Latvian Traditional Cultural Heritage’ (2015)

In 2015, marking the 150th anniversary of the artist, photographer, litterateur, public activist, and enthusiastic collector of folklore Jānis Krēsliņš (1865-?), publishing house “Neputns” in collaboration with the Latvian National Museum of History (LNVM), published the book ‘Jānis Krēsliņš. The Custodian of Latvian Traditional Cultural Heritage’.

The book is devoted to the ethnographic, historic and art materials collected by Jānis Krēsliņš at the end of the 19th century, containing 376 objects (297 photographs and 79 drawings, paintings in watercolour and oil on canvas). All the photographs and drawings by Jānis Krēsliņš have been created between 1894 and 1895, when Krēsliņš took part in the expeditions organised by the Scientific Commission of the Riga Latvian Society in various Latvian counties in order to gather material for the exhibition of Latvian etnography, that was due in 1896 Riga for the X Russian Congress of Archeology and was organised by the Riga Latvian Society.

The book summarizes the legacy of Jānis Krēsliņš at the disposal of Latvian Museum of National History and Art. Watercolors and oil paintings depict the outlines, plans, details of heating devices and ornaments, building layout plans, property signs, traditional clothes of the area, ruins of Bauska castle, Salaca castle mound, and coats of arms of Cursken konyngh. Whereas in the photographs he has captured Latvian peasants in both their mundane, and festive outfits. In Nica, Barta, Rucava and some villages of Cursken konyngh’s, people have been photographed in their traditional costumes.

Sanita Stinkule, the arranging editor of the book, has analysed drawings by Jānis Krēsliņš as a source for research of Latvian traditional culture. Inta Pujāte, the docent of the Latvian Academy of Art Latgale branch has reviewed the photos of Jānis Krēsliņš as a portrait of the Latvian people, while the granddaughter of Georgs Krēsliņš, the younger brother of Jānis Krēsliņš, the current educational methodologist of Ernests Gliks Alūksne State Gymnasium, Gunta Tuča, has carried out a detailed study of the biography of Jānis Krēsliņš.