Good practice from Lithuania:

Weaving Week at Dzūkija National Park


The Directorate of Dzūkija National Park and Čepkeliai State Nature Reserve has been organizing the traditional Weaving Week (camp for teaching crafts) since 2000. The Weaving Week is well known throughout Lithuania. The Camp takes place annually in Musteika Village wellknown for the preservation and bringing back of the hollow tree apiary business, ancient fencing and roofing methods as well as weaving of “kašelės” (sapwood baskets) and bread baking. Musteika Village stands out among other villages thanks to the very proactive local community “Musteikos pirkia” (Musteika Cottage) that joined the Weaving Week activities shortly following its establishment. The community also organizes heritage conservation projects, including conservation and management of the traditional architecture, ethnographic expeditions, etc. The participation and involvement of the youth of the community of Musteika Village at the camp serve as means of education of the new generation of the people of Musteika, because the future of the Village depends on their attitude and perception. After all, the population of the local people in the Village keeps decreasing, however, the ranks of new settlers consciously preserving the uniqueness of this traditional village (and thus the whole region) keep expanding.

Specialists (the craftsman of the Directorate and his assistants or craftsmen of Varėna Region) and local craftsmen offer their help during the Camp in teaching the craft of weaving as well as introducing to other crafts in this region. Each year at the end of July the Village is filled with weaving of “kašikai” (baskets), “kašelės” (sapwood baskets), “gorčiai” (wooden boxes), ropes and other household utensils, sashes, making traditional musical instruments used by herds, tying straw decorations, candle making and other traditions. Everyone interested in the traditional weaving craft techniques is given a chance to observe and master them at the Camp.

Photo: Dalia Blažulionytė

 Identifying threats and the need for safeguarding efforts


The number of people devoted to preservation and passing on the traditions decreases along with the decreasing local populations in villages. Traditional businesses and crafts are becoming irrelevant in the modern society overflowing with material values. The value of an item made by using traditional methods will never match the one of mass-produced items made by factories. Some see this as a huge advantage and they are willing to pay for this, nevertheless the vast majority sees this as a big disadvantage driving towards shopping for the goods at supermarkets. The organisers of the Camp realise these threats, thus they encourage people and give them a chance to sense more than just the material value of items, they raise a consumer who chooses his or her role in the process responsibly and consciously thus giving a chance to grow from a consumer into a creator continuing to propagate the idea of a sustainable relation with the nature and tradition. This goal drives the organization of the traditional craft camp (the Weaving Week) aimed at strengthening of the preservation and reviving activities of the weaving craft. New participants join the already formed audience of the Weaving Week thus spreading the message each year.


It is necessary to involve as many groups of the society in the heritage conservation activities as possible in order to ensure continuity of the living tradition. First of all, this applies to the young people, whose approach and relation to conservation of the cultural heritage will determine the future of the preservation of the national culture and natural values. The goal of the Weaving Week is passing on the weaving craft and ensuring its viability and continuity.

The purpose of the activities offered at this Camp is to develop the heritage awareness of the population, to increase popularity of educational activities in the original surroundings of the craft; to raise interest of the young people and other groups of the society in the traditions and cultural heritage of the region, to strengthen citizenship and local self-awareness as well as to enshrine and increase popularity of the traditional ancient crafts by presenting the craftsmen, their skills and products to the general public.


How it was done

It is important to cultivate the traditional crafts in the original surroundings, in the natural locality of their origin and development, thus the Weaving Week is organised in the village located between forests, away from civilization, where the traditions of the craft had been preserved for the longest time. In addition to the weaving crafts, the attendees of the of the Camp, who would be living in Musteika Village next to the hollow tree apiary for a week, would be introduced to the traditional rural crafts and businesses and immerse themselves in the ancient rural lifestyle briefly, but qualitatively. The attendees of the Weaving Week would get to know various forms of craftsmanship by working with different natural materials (which they would learn to prepare themselves) and by trying out different craft techniques. They would use pine roots, withes, chips, birch bark, cat’s-tails, and straws for weaving, they would make ropes of linden fibre and arrange tied straw decorations and birds. The materials are prepared on the site. The hollow tree beekeeping, which is one of the oldest businesses in the forest, is presented in great detail each year during the Weaving Week. Trainings also take place next to the hollow tree apiary all week long. The attendees are introduced to the tools used by a beekeeper attending to the hollow tree apiary, the specifics of this work, the history of hollow tree beekeeping, the evolution of the tradition, the wax melting technique, they are taught to start a fire by using flint, a chopper and tinder as well as to make candles. They could also have a chance to taste some very sweet and valuable honey collected from the hollow tree apiary, provided that the beekeeper is able to do this successfully. The attendees of the Weaving Week are given the opportunity to get acquainted with other crafts, such as clay moulding, burning of linden jars. Attendees of the camp may live in tents, cook food on the campfire as a way to enrich the experience of the traditional lifestyle with the rhythm of nature.

Detail of products made. Photo: Dalia Blažulionytė

Developing a unique space. The main results.


A unique space for experiencing the traditional lifestyle and a learning platform have been developed within the 21 years of the existence of the Weaving Week, which has become integral to the local context. The activities of the Weaving Week contribute to formation and maintenance of such awareness.

According to Romas Norkūnas, the organizer of the Weaving Week and the resident of Musteika Village, a wicker woven cradle, an axe handle carved with their own hands, a small item made of bark or clay and eventually staying in a tent by a campfire per se often stimulate our fantasy for the entire year and inspire the desire to meet again to learn and create together. We touch the real past every time we touch a freshly pulled out pine root or peeled off bitch bark. We would never see this history, but we could still sense it. Here we experience emotions, this is not about teaching how to mould amateur clay cups but about sensing what is just starting to be reborn and grow in the heart of the modern-day Lithuanian: nationality and patriotism. As in 2020, this message has been heard by 1045 people who have already been in attendance during the Weaving Week while the photo-gallery displayed since 2000 proves that many of them have been here more than once, there is even a generation of children who grew up with the annual experiences of the Weaving Camps. We have plans to attract more craftsmen in the future; currently approximately 5 craftsmen take part in the activities each year.

The crafts made (taught) are recorded, films and video reports are developed and articles are written within the course of the Weaving Week.

Photo: Dalia Blažulionytė

Summing up. Reflections for the future.


The Weaving Week has been taking place for 21 years already and each year. At the very beginning of the year the Directorate of Dzūkija National Park and Čepkeliai State Nature Reserve receives new letters inquiring whether new attendees could join it, when the Camp would take place, etc. The Camp no longer needs advertising but it still needs to attract more craftsmen, because the number of attendees is high with approximately 80 people coming here each year. Local craftsmen are less eager to get involved because of their advanced age and health problems which generates the need to hire craftsmen from areas other than Musteika Village and the nearby villages. It is planned to maintain the regional craftsmanship specifics at the Camp. The newly involved craftsmen could help craftsman and hollow tree apiary beekeeper Romas Norkūnas, who is the initiator and the soul of the Camp, by sharing their craftsmanship skills.

Author and contact:


Dzukija National Park and Cepkeliai State Nature Reserve



Last updated May 3, 2024