When Valdis Zatlers, then-president of the Republic of Latvia, visited Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympics, he made a special excursion to MOA. “The richness of the great number of collections in the Museum of Anthropology makes you lose your breath with every step you take,” he wrote in a recent letter to MOA Director Anthony Shelton. “I could not walk away without putting our—Latvian—fingertip, a small line in the history of mankind together with all the other spectacular collections.”
At the time, the former president donated a cream pitcher to MOA’s permanent collection. But the museum remained on his mind, and in 2016, Zatlers donated an additional five ceramic works: a candlestick, a pitcher, a plate and two pots. The new pieces were made by master ceramicists Janis Saikovskis and Marija Saikovska of Latgale, the easternmost region of Latvia renowned for its traditional pottery. The objects were glazed in gradient earth tones and decorated with mythological signs. Ornamental twists symbolize water and the goddess Māra, the guardian of health and fertility. Pine needles represent the protection of the Tree of the World, while depictions of the sun embody life and infinite motion.
Combined with Zatlers’ original gift in 2010, the donation comprises the museum’s only works from Latvia. The ceramics were handed over to MOA by Eric Savics, the Latvian Honorary Consul in Vancouver.
Latvian Honorary Consul Eric Savics (left) and MOA Director Anthony Shelton.