Jonas Basanavičius Folklore Library, Vol. 13
Jonas Basanavičius. Lion in Lithuanian Tales and Songs
Vilnius: Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore, 2004
This is the first such a large-scale study in Lithuanian folkloristics. The first eleven chapters of this volume were first published by Basanavičius in 1907 in the series of “Lithuanian People” that he edited. After being augmented by adding yet another eleven chapters, the study was published as a separate book in 1919. The monograph naturally splits into two parts. The first part consists of materials that support the conclusions drawn by the author: these mostly include Lithuanian folk narratives, linguistic data and samples of folk art. The second part presents results of research performed by Basanavičius, data on international folklore and mythology, historical and cultural insights related to the topic in question, and numerous Lithuanian folksongs that are quoted. By way of investigating, how and when the name of lion could have entered the Lithuanian folklore, the author of the study directs his gaze towards the international folklore. The comparison leads him to conclude that lions in other peoples’ folklore cannot compete with the Lithuanian ones neither in number nor in variety of the motives; this being the result of Lithuanian ancestors having seen the animal with their own eyes, therefore the image became the fixture in folklore.
Leonardas Sauka in his foreword to this volume entitled “The Dreamed-Off Monograph about Lion in Lithuanian Folklore” appreciates the attempts undertaken by Basanavičius in order to reveal the diverse image of lion in Lithuanian folklore, as well as finding out the reasons why this animal of the exotic lands is so often mentioned here. According to Sauka, this book embodies an impressive, large-scale comparative research study on Lithuanian folktales. Although having some aftertaste of the Thracian-Phrygian theory, this work was unparalleled before and is still unequaled.
The thirteenth volume of Jonas Basanavičius Folklore Library was edited by Kostas Aleksynas. The author of the foreword and commentaries is Leonardas Sauka. Aspects of textual editing were discussed by Kostas Aleksynas, vocabulary was compiled by Vitas Agurkis.