Crafts and businesses within the context of Suvalkija economic development 

Janina Morkūnienė

The state of the crafts, the type, place and significance of work being done by craftsmen, especially by wheelwrights, in the life of village community in the Kazlų Rūda Neighbourhood at the end of the 19th c. and the first half of the 20th c. are analysed in the paper.

It is based on the written and illustrative material collected by the author during the expeditions organised by the Ethnology Department of the Lithuanian History Institute in 1984 and 1988, as well as the Versmė Publishers in 2000, not only in Marijampolė District, but also the entire Suvalkija region. The ethnographic data have been collected according to the author’s methodology of direct questioning and communicating with the craftsmen and old-age farmers.

In the second half of the 19th c. and the first half of the 20th c., rural craftsmanship depended on the economic capabilities of a farm and land area owned. Therefore, peasants, mainly poor ones, tried to find other ways for their incomes and get into additional crafts and businesses. The know-how obtained by village craftsmen in individual way depended on the way of a master to give his skill and experience to a learner, on his good will and on the capabilities of a learner to absorb it.

The gifted village craftsmen used to be universal, able to do various wood works–they were carpenters, woodworkers, wheelwrights and cabinetmakers at the same time. They managed to make their tools and instruments themselves, or used to buy some of the equipment. The developing agriculture and village culture motivated the improvement of the tools.

In Suvalkija the home business and crafts were more spread in its southern part, where land was less fertile. However, the central and northern areas of Suvalkija also were notable for numerous craftsmen of different line, especially wheelwrights, which used to produce vehicles for winter and summer, for working and festival purposes. The work type and approach to it by wheelwrights and other craftsmen, as well as their relations with blacksmiths governed the evaluation of their skill and pay, both the respect and the incomes for their make.