Tadas Blinda (
1846– 1877) was a Lithuanian folk heroof the 19th century.
He was born in the village of
Kinčiuliai, in the region of Žemaitija(aka Samogitia), and inherited his father's 40 hectares at the age of 20. He then married, had three daughters, and became the village elder.
There are several versions of the turning point in his life that led to his later career. One story has it that he participated in the 1863 uprising, and was sentenced to exile in
Siberia. Another has it that his landlord, Duke Oginskis, ordered him to flog some serfs, became angry when he refused, and then struck Blinda with a whip. Blinda responded in a flash by thrashing the nobleman. In any event, he then chose to live outside the law – he gathered a band of followers in the dense forests near Byvainė.
According to his admirers, he was a latter-day
Robin Hood– he stole from the rich and gave to the poor. His detractors argued that he stole from the poor as well. Other stories have him disguising himself as a priest and collecting alms that he then gave away. Many of the tales have this point in common: he buried treasure in the forest, which remains undiscovered to this day.
The circumstances surrounding his death have also been an object of contention. The popularly-held version was that Duke Oginskis was finally able to gain revenge by organizing the local authorities and murdering him. In 1993 an archivist uncovered police records indicating that he was lynched as a horse thief on
April 22, 1877and buried in an unconsecratedcorner of a cemetery in Luokė. In any event, no traces of this burial have been found.
His life was first formally dramatized in 1907 by the Lithuanian writers
Lazdynų Pelėdaand Gabrielius Landsbergis-Žemkalnis. The play, entitled “Blinda, the Leveller of the World”, presented him as a champion of the common people, battling the Polish landlords and the Russian Empirethat governed Lithuania, and was enthusiastically received.
The legend lived on, and was made into a popular film in 1973. It featured a handsome leading man,
Vytautas Tomkus, dramatic hand-to-hand combat and feats of horsemanship, and the beautiful scenery of Aukštaitija National Park– it was an immediate success and is still shown in theaters. Although the film was released with the approval of the Sovietgovernment, many of its viewers interpreted the movie as a veiled reference to the Lithuanian partisans who, living in the forests, continued to resist the Soviet occupation during the 1940s and 1950s.
Blinda's life was recently dramatized in an eponymous rock musical by
Andrius Mamontovasthat debuted in Vilniusin 2004. [ [http://www.baltictimes.com/news/articles/10718/ The rock musical "Tadas Blinda"] ] A local railway tour re-enacts a train robbery by Blinda, [ [http://www.baranauskas.lt/siaurukas/entertainment.en.htm Narrow-gauge railroad excursion featuring a Blinda train robbery re-enactment] ] and "Blindos" beer by Švyturys-Utenos alusappeared in the 2000s.
* [http://www.liw.lt/archive_vid.php?shid=1146216121&id=1146212078 The legend of Tadas Blinda]
* [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0152843/ "Tadas Blinda", 1972 film]
* [http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/history/lookup/lookup_az.php?id=ODA2MjMw&page_var=personal Sociological analysis of Tadas Blinda's role in national identity]
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