Art Deco Characteristics in the Décor of Liturgical Vestments: Peculiarities of Expression (Summary)

Gabija Surdokaitė-Vitienė (PDF)

The article examines the décor of the Lithuanian liturgical textiles of the 1920s through to the 1970s and the influence of secular artistic trends of the 1920s and 1930s on the décor. The décor is analysed in terms of the relationship between tradition, conservatism and modernity.

The 1920s and 1930s saw the development of a distinctive variant of embroidered décor in Lithuanian liturgical vestments that can be recognised by a unique stylisation of floral ornaments, blooms of roses and lilies. The décor of the liturgical vestments often featured simplified, geometricised motifs. However, very few surviving examples exist in the Lithuanian liturgical textile heritage. The reimagining of folk motifs in the style of Art Deco continued in Lithuania, isolated by the Soviets during the 1950s to 1970s. The local makers of liturgical vestments mostly used décor patterns created from 1918 to 1940 and materials surviving from the first half of the 20th century.

The study revealed that new artistic movements did not encourage the appearance of modern ornaments in the décor of liturgical vestments in Lithuania in the 1920s and 1930s. The Art Deco features that made their way to these garments at the time were reborn and used in the liturgical vestments from the 1950s to 1970s. The study has raised several questions that require further research. One of them is why Art Deco and national style did not become entrenched in liturgical textiles from 1918 to 1940, despite their strong presence in secular applied arts. Another question is why Art Deco flourished during the Soviet era, from the 1950s to 1970s. Most probably, the key reason was that Lithuanianness became a fundamental criterion for the décor of liturgical vestments in Lithuania, occupied and isolated by the Soviets. Therefore, Art Deco became the connotation of the National style. Besides, the old masters were working underground using previously acquired samples and stencils of ornaments because the Soviets considered their work illegal.

Keywords: liturgical textiles, Art Deco, national style, Soviet era