Visiting Latvia as an expat and staying for longer than just a couple of days as a tourist allows to better understand Latvian culture, traditions, and mentality. An intense work, however, does not always give an opportunity to spend endless hours on studying these. Expats in Riga project has prepared this short article about Latvian artisanal industry in order to tell about its uniqueness and value as well as to suggest considering the pieces of artisanal art as great presents for family members, relatives, or friends, left in a home country.
Those who have already visited Old Riga, might have noticed two buildings, which have looking alike architectural traits, standing one in front other on Livu square. The craftsmen guild, which is on the left, in old times represented the union of artisans and protected their rights. Now there is also a chamber of artisans situated in the same building too.
The history of Latvian craftsmanship is long and lasting. Also in Soviet times Latvian artisanal works were among the most demanded in other Soviet Republics. Among traditional arts, which also exist nowadays, are jewellery, pottery, glass art, leather craft, knitting, basket work. All these crafts have deep roots and are based on a profound knowledge of Latvian traditions by its creators. Many souvenir shops and street counters, scattered around Old Riga, offer a rich and quaint choice of authentic individual works of Latvian artisan artists. The sellers usually are very polite and let you take your time for examining works in detail. Spending your time on looking at artisanal products will pay you back – immersing into the beauty of silver rings and bracelets, amber necklaces, woolen socks or leather accessories will make you forget about time and plunge into the artisan world.
For those keen on the outdoor activities, it is also worth visiting the Ethnographic museum in Jugla district, which also hosts annual open air market with lots of artisans, gathering to sell their works there. Besides market, the territory of the museum is an exposition itself. With old traditional houses and reconstructed households’ ambiance, it is a truly unique and unforgettable experience for any visitor.