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Aleksandra Dzérvìte and the Development of Latvian Crafts in Exile
[Atkal dzimtené. Aleksandras Dzérvìtes m?ža devums latviešu lietiš?ás mákslas attìstìbá trimdá]

Jansone A.
– Publishing House Zinatne, Riga, 2013,
167 p. (in Latvian and English)

Aleksandra Dzérvìtes (1904 – 1996) is a craftswoman whose name is known by all exiled Latvians having contact with Latvian applied arts.

Her work in the area can most likely be divided into two stages: the work undertaken in Latvia (1921–1944), and the work in exile (1944–1996). In the first stage, her most important undertakings were undoubtedly related to the collection of Latvian ethnographic materials, the analysis of techniques used in textile works, co-operation in preparing works for publication, and the teaching of needlecrafts. The
second stage includes her commendable work in educating younger generations of craftspeople, the many publications on needlecraft techniques, issues regarding applied arts and the making of folk dress, as well as actively exhibiting her own creations.

Continued contact with their homeland and its culture was vital for those Latvians who were forced to flee Latvia after the Second World War and take up residence in various European countries as well as more distant lands (Australia, America and Canada).

To a large extent it is thanks to Aleksandra Dzérvìte that Latvians in exile were able to continue making and developing Latvian crafts into the 1990s.

Aleksandra continued publishing almost up to the age of 80, but many of her writings (largely concerning methodology, i.e., patterns, colour schemes, creation of different elements of folk costumes) remain in manuscript form. As it is impossible to include all areas of Aleksandra Dzérvìte’s creative work in one publication, the author of this book has elected to give a concentrated summary of the characteristics of A. Dzérvìte’s work and focus on her original creations – hand-drawn sketches, photographs of her creations, manuscripts on methodology, i.e., original source materials which are in private collections and family archives. They also offer Aleksandra’s family members the opportunity of sharing their memories.

The book consist of the following chapters:


I Family history

II A. Dzérvìte’s creative work

III A. Dzérvìte’s publications about applied arts

IV A. Dzérvìte and Latvian folk costume

V Krustpils-type shawls (villaines)

V.I. A. Dzérvìte’s sketches of shawls (villaines)

VI A. Dzérvìte’s original design composition sketches and notes

VII Catalogue of A. Dzérvìte’s needlework

VIII A. Dzérvìte’s manuscript “Needlework techniques”


A. Dzérvìte’s best-known publications


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