According to 15th to 18th-century written sources, priests-vaidiluciai, successors to the servants of the cult of the pre-Christian religion, performed various duties, including therapeutic activities. Descriptions in sources indicate that the nature of the therapeutic assistance they provided varied according to the magic activity they performed. The healing activities of vaidiluciai have not been systematically studied. This article extends the analysis of data on the therapeutic activities of different groups of vaidiluciai in 15th to 18th-century written folk sources, and identifies the reflection of these activities in 15th to 18th-century folk medicine based on archive records and healing faith records. The research helps to trace the meaning and origin of some therapeutic methods of folk medicine, and the possible development of traditions.
In the 19th and the first half of the 20th century, an opposition between official medicine and folk medicine, partly based on ethnic aspects, formed in Lithuania. The article analyses the alternation in the ‘self-other’ opposition in the choice of treatment. Folk medicine traditions existed alongside standard medicine in the town of Aukštadvaris, which was characterised as multi-confessional in the first half of the 20th century (despite the tensions, Lithuanians, Poles, Jews and Tartars lived together harmoniously). Faith healers with extraordinary qualities or powers were classified as ‘other’. So the choice of treatment reveals two aspects: the concept of ethnicity, and mythical perception (when dealing with those engaged in other activities). Studies have shown that in a disaster or illness, the ‘self-other’ opposition declines. An opposition between official medicine and folk medicine did not form in the Aukštadvaris area.
Volume 18 (2012): People at the Crossroads of Space and Time (Footmarks of Societies in Ancient Europe) II, pp. 256–269
The Civitas Rutenica area, inhabited by Orthodox believers, emerged in Vilnius in the late 13th century and early 14th century. The development of this part of the city can be traced all through the 14th century. The cemetery that was discovered in the central part of Civitas Rutenica reflects cultural and social changes in the Orthodox community. Christian burial rites were practised in this cemetery. Several graves contained luxurious grave goods, including jewellery, some of which was common to the Slavs, and some of which had local origins. As an integrated approach to burial traditions indicates, people of the Orthodox faith were buried in this cemetery. According to written sources, the elite from Rus’ arrived in Vilnius at that time. An analysis of anthropological material reveals some features of the social structure of the Orthodox community.
The glance at the classical anthropological perspectives implies that the concept of ‘region’ was often tied to the environment and used mainly as a comparison unit and there were fewer intentions to try to discover the internal aspects of a ‘region’. The ideas of the contemporary scholars give a new room for the discussions about the connections between different territories, regions, concepts of local/global, homogeneity/heterogeneity, place, space/time etc. Generally, the article strives to prefigure possible ‘framework’ for the concept of ‘region’ and main elements as well as problems of its definition, and its application possibilities in the anthropological studies. The term ‘region’ is often occurring both in everyday and academic languages. But the question is, if it is possible to describe what kind of content is framed within the word ‘region’, because it does not have its own exact definition. Still it is usual to relate the term ‘region’ with geographical terms of various kinds of territories, for example, area, place, site, city etc. The scholarly discussions about globalization, its elements and processes influence perceptions of different territorial units and start questioning their stability and fixity.
To conduct an ethnographic research means to do a job of investigating something, which is always geographically located in a particular place: a village, a city, a country, or an area. A map is the first attribute of an ethnographer. But anytime we, as ethnographers, take the map and choose an ethnographic site to study it becomes immediately filled up in our imagination with the discourses already existing in historical, political, social, cultural, or local contexts. Then the question emerges about how does the view of a priori about the place come together with the ‘practise’ of fieldwork? The empirical ground of this article is my experience as of a researcher at the international EU project ‘Public Understanding of Genetics: A Cross-Cultural and Ethnographic Study of the “New Genetics” and Social Identity (2002–2004)’. Thus in the article I would like to discuss the role of ethnographic research in the construction of images about the place. I would return to the initial idea that region is a conventional category. Place-names and maps like natural symbols crystallize and justify the essence of its identity.