The New Myth of Kaunas


Structural guidelines

Kaunas exists on two levels: The Sunny Kaunas as seen now. There also exists The Underground Kaunas inhabited with all and everything who has ever lived and died in the city together with the long gone buildings and streets. The Underground Kaunas is a world of the past, a certain mystical otherworldness of the city. Both cities are connected with secret tunnels and the only being who can freely travel between the two is the Beast of Kaunas.

The Beast of Kaunas dwells in the depths of the city in The Underground Kaunas. It is the keeper of the city – mythical beast living under the Confluence of Kaunas rivers since the beginning of time. Many years ago the persecuted cursed people led by their Princess come to the Confluence and asked for protection. They made a contract with the Beast under condition that the Princess will fall in love with the Beast. The contract was signed. However, since the Princess is moody she sometimes stops loving the Beast. At such instances the city suffers wars, diseases, invasions and occupations of the Crusaders, tsars, Germans, Soviets… It happens at times when there is not enough love in the city.

The Beast is the protector of the city; it is benign but could become cruel as well. It can be spotted at the Confluence, in the rivers, it is a dweller of water and ground. Some say it can also fly. It has a hypnotic gaze.

The first ruler of Kaunas – the Princess still lives in The Underground Kaunas together with her court. The Beast is always trying to please her and seeks her love and attention. When the two of them get along well – Kaunas prospers.


Method explained

Types of myths employed here: protectors’ myth, lost paradise myth, arrival myth, contract myth. Motives used: Beauty and the Beast, traditional Kaunas and district folklore.

The scope of problems the myth helps to discuss and transform: the raison d’etre for the city is proposed, contradictions of the past metaphorically softened, different and sometimes antagonistic narratives synchronized. Never before employed transcendence and love factor introduced into city’s mind set. The traditional folklore about the Princess and her court together with stories about underground tunnels and passages is employed. The Confluence of the two Kaunas rivers presented as an erotic productive symbol. The old underdeveloped idea of Kaunas Taurus (present in the coat of arms of the city) is being further creatively developed into the Beast of Kaunas following the examples of traditional European stories of dragons, serpents and monsters.

Love is a very important leitmotif since the absence of love for the city was often quoted as one of the core problems of Kaunas.


Further reading:

The  hero with a thousand faces