Serpentine Door Handles - Vilnius, Lithuania
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Marine Biologist
N 54° 40.972 E 025° 17.222
35U E 389566 N 6060849
Quick Description: These impressive serpentine door handles are located on the Vilnius University Library Door, which includes images of major events in the history of Lithuanian culture and of the Vilnius university.
Location: Lithuania
Date Posted: 10/4/2020 1:07:43 PM
Waymark Code: WM137M4
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Bear and Ragged
Views: 15

Long Description:
The bronze door on which these handles are located includes beautiful panels that commemorate the 450th anniversary of the printing of the first Lithuanian book. The doors were created by John Meškelevicius, and the door handles are said to depict "brownies" (i.e., grass snakes which are typically dark green or brown in color) said to bring prosperity to people and their homes.

"In the Baltic mythology, the grass snake (Lithuanian: žaltys, Latvian: zalktis) is seen as a sacred animal. It was frequently kept as a pet, living under a married couple's bed or in a special place near the hearth. Supposedly, snakes ate food given to them by hand.

After the Christianization of Lithuania and Latvia, the grass snake still retained some mythological significance. In spite of the serpent's symbolic meaning as a symbol of evil in Christianity, in Latvia and Lithuania there were various folk beliefs, dating even to the late 19th century, that killing grass snakes might bring grave misfortune or that an injured snake will take revenge on the offender. The ancient Baltic belief of grass snakes as household spirits transformed into a belief that there is a snake (known or not to the inhabitants) living under every house; if it leaves, the house will burn down. Common Latvian folk sayings include "who kills a grass snake, kills his happiness" and "when the Saule sees a dead grass snake, she cries for 9 days".

Well-known literary works based on these traditions include Lithuanian folk tale Egle the Queen of Serpents (Egle žalciu karaliene) and the Latvian folk fairytale "The grass snake's bride" (Zalkša ligava). These works include another common theme in Baltic mythology: that grass snakes wear crowns (note grass snake's yellow spots) and that there is a king of snakes who wears a golden crown. In some traditions the king of snakes changes every year; he drops his crown in spring and the other snakes fight for it (possibly based on the mating of grass snakes).

Today grass snakes hold a meaning of house blessing among many Latvians and Lithuanians. One tradition is to put a bowl of milk near a snake's place of residence, although there is no evidence of a grass snake ever drinking milk. Driven by late 19th century and 20th century Romantic nationalism, grass snake motifs in Latvia have gained a meaning of education and wisdom, and are common ornaments in the military, folk dance groups and education logos and insignia. They are also found on the Lielvarde Belt."

--Wikipedia (visit link)
Functional door?: yes

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