"Brought out of an oak and put in this place..."
Dionizas Poska founded the first Lithuanian folklore museum in 1812 in the Samogitian town of Bijotai (Barzdai, Barzdziai) not far from the town Skaudvile and the river Pela. He chose this site, Vysniakalnys (Cherry Hill), for the museum, because a huge burned-out oak tree, called a Baublys, had been felled there. Even after Samogitia was Christianized, such trees were worshipped and held in high regard. Ancient Lithuanians would put holy pictures and statues in the hollow of such an oak. Dionizas Poska created such a holy place out of this Baublys and preserved the tree. Not far from Baublys, another burned oak tree appeared, later called "Baublys' brother".
Before Poska's death, he bequeathed the two Baublys trees to Simonas Stanevicius, who died in 1848. After his death, Ploteris took care of the two oak trees. During World War I the museum was severely damaged. Its more valuable possessions were moved to the Taurage teachers' college in 1924. In 1947 the Baublys museum was opened. Little by little the museum became a part of the Siauliai "Ausra" museum. In order to save the oaks from destruction, temporary shelters were built around them in 1930. Later they received glass encasements that still protect them today. The Baublys trees themselves (there are four today) stand on the hill where the Barzdziai (Bijotai) palace used to stand. A few great oaks hint at the grandeur that the manor once had. The first Lithuanian folklore museum is only a few steps away. Across from the Baublys trees are two hills with memorials. One of the memorials is dedicated to the museum's founder, Dionizas Poska, and the other to the Lithuanian Grand Duke Vytautas the Great.
Prepared for publication by Danute Mukiene
© Samogitian Cultural
Association Editorial Board, 1998.