'Daina closet' insured for a million euros

An irreplacable collection of Latvian folk wisdom has been insured against  "fires, smoke, storm, hail and flooding, leakage from damaged pipelines, landslides and subsidence and third-party damage" to the tune of a million euros.

The University of Latvia's collection of dainas - poetic forms unique to Latvia that are often compared to the Japanese haiku but also contain everything from advice to farmers to instructions to newlyweds - will be insured free of charge by the Baltic branch of Norwegian insurer Gjensidige, the company said in a statement Tuesday.

The 'closet' or 'cabinet' of thousands of dainas assembled by legendary folklorist Krisjanis Barons and his assistants is a unique item of cultural heritage with official UNESCO 'Memory of the World' status.  

Around the turn of the last century, Barons published more than 200,000 dainas collected from all parts of Latvia, ensuring that an oral tradition that had lasted centuries did not perish.

The system of classification and cross-referencing he helped develop revolutionised the study of the dainas and made a significant contribution to the formation of Latvian cultural identity over the last hundred years.

Dace Bula of the University of Latvia's department of Literature, Folklore and Art said the insurance policy was taken out ahead of the daina cabinet's relocation to the Latvian National Library where it will be on public display on the fifth floor.

"It is important that making it available to the public, comes hand in hand with conservation and the prevention of risks to its safety," Bula said, while thanking the insurer for its gesture. 

As previously reported by LSM, the collection is of such importance volunteers queued up to help move it to its new location.

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