Sunday, June 17, 2007

Blue cows!

A friend from London told me he had seen an ad by Latvia tourism agency:
Two million reasons to visit Latvia
Reason #653,432: blue cows.
That started an interesting conversation. I think I managed to convince everyone that Latvia indeed has blue cows.

Latvian blue cows are farm animals, a peculiar variety of regular cows.


Traditionally, blue cows were grown by Livs, an indigenous ethnic group of Latvia which spoke a language related to Estonian and Finnish. Livs lived along the Baltic sea in the Latvian regions of Vidzeme and Kurzeme (Courland). An old legend says that blue cows used to live in the sea and would come out briefly before the sunrise to graze on the seaside grass. Then, once upon a time, The Mother of the Sea (Juras Mate) gave some of them as gifts, to families of Liv fishermen who had died in a storm.

Both Livs and blue cows became nearly extinct during the Soviet period. In case of Liv people, the Baltic Sea became the border between the Soviet Union and the West. Livs were uprooted from their fishermen villages, to make space for military. At the end of Soviet period, there were less than 100 people speaking Liv language.

Blue cows were almost completely displaced by other breeds. Less than 100 of them survived the Soviet period, too. In 1990s, Latvia, together with UN Food and Agriculture Organization, started an effort to preserve this peculiar variety of cows. As a result, blue cows can be still seen along the coast of Kurzeme (Western Latvia).

41 comments:

Ed said...

"At the end of Soviet period, there were less than 100 people speaking Liv language."

from today's Deutsche Welle:

"There are less than a dozen native speakers of Livonian living in Latvia today."

http://tinyurl.com/35dpee

Rose said...

Sweet. It's awesome that steps are being taken to preserve this amazing animal. Thanks for reporting!

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