Jurate Balas


About Myself


Email: jbalas@mediagroupstudios.com


Books: The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Kundera

Writers: Maironis Jurate & Kastytis

Quote: If it feels good, do it.

Food: Lithuanian, Italian, vegetarian

Travel Desinations:  Lithuania, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Italy, Hawaii

Facebook:  Look me up

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Jūratė and Kastytis

is one of the most famous and popular Lithuanian legends. During ancient times, the fairest of all goddesses was Jūratė, a mermaid Goddess of the Sea.

    Jūratė lived in an amber palace at the bottom of the Baltic. Kastytis, a courageous fisherman living along the Baltic coast near the mouth of the Šventoji River, often cast his nets to catch fish from Jurate's kingdom. Displeased by this intrusion, Jūratė sent her mermaids to warn Kastytis to leave her fish alone and disturb the sea no more. Paying no heed to her warnings and impervious to the charms of her mermaids, Kastytis continued to cast his nets and bring in fish.

    Watching the fisherman haul his catch into his boat, Jūratė saw how handsome Kastytis was and admired his great courage. Since she was a mermaid and possessed human failings, Jūratė fell in love with the mortal, Kastytis, and, in spite of great differences between them, Jurate took the fisherman to her amber palace.

    Perkūnas was the God of Thunder and the father of all gods. He had promised Patrimpas, God of Water that Jūratė would be his wife. And he therefore became greatly angered upon discovering the immortal goddess in love with a mere mortal. In his fury, Perkūnas sent a shaft of lightning from the skies, striking Jūratė's palace, demolishing it into thousands of fragments and killing her beloved Kastytis. Jūratė, crying tears of amber for Kastytis and their tragic love, was punished by being chained to the ruins of her castle.

    The legend says that when storms churn the Baltic, Jūratė is being tossed to and fro by the waves. To this day people sometimes say that the sound of Jūratė wailing in the depths can still be heard as she mourns for Kastytis, a son of the earth. As she cries, the peaceful depths of the sea grow restless and stormy, and lumps of amber from her demolished palace are spewed up from the sea bottom, become entangled in seaweed, and are thrown out onto the Baltic shores.

    To Lithuanians, the small, tear-shaped pieces of amber are the tears of Jūratė, as clear and pure as her tragic love. The legend lives today through a variety of beautiful sculptures, wood carvings and pictures and mosaics set with amber.

Cultural significance

    Lithuanians have numerous legends and tales. Arguably, Eglė, the Queen of Serpents and Jūratė and Kastytis are the best known. Even though Eglė's story is much more complicated and elaborate, both legends are love stories that involve elements of Lithuanian mythology and try to explain origins of certain objects. Both Eglė and Jūratė are popular Lithuanian female names.

    Palanga, the main resort in Lithuania, has a monument dedicated to Jūratė and Kastytis. It is located in a square right next to the main tourist attraction—a bridge that leads to sunset. The Palanga coat of arms was designed having the legend in mind. The amber beads represent the ancient business of amber processing. The silver crown represents goddess Jūratė.

    The legend has inspired a number of other artworks. In 1920 Maironis, one of the best known patriotic poets, wrote a ballad to honor the lovers. Much of legend's present popularity is attributed to this poet. Woodcut illustrations by Vaclovas Rataiskis-Ratas for the ballad won awards in an international exhibition in Paris in 1937. In 1933 a ballet was staged. In 1955 an opera (premiered in 1972 in Chicago) and a play were written. In 2002 a rock opera was performed in Klaipėda to celebrate its 750th anniversary. A number of celebrities appeared in the opera and it became a success. It continues where the actual legend left off: the castle is destroyed and the lovers are separated. The rock opera is noted for taking a modern twist on old story.