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About my name Valdis

When the national awakening started in the 19th century, Latvians had mostly Christian or transformed Christian names. Certain efforts were made to replace the most of the Christian names with the Baltic (Latvian, Lithuanian and even Prussian) or Nordic names. Sometimes the old names, mentioned in the 13th century Livonian chronicles, were chosen. Among those are the names of the 13th century kings and nobility ­ Visvaldis, Talivaldis, Miervaldis ­ and also some later names such as Gunvaldis, Druvvaldis etc. The second part of those names -valdis means "the one, who rules" and it can be used as a short form of any of the aforementioned names; thus Visvaldis is "the general ruler" (compare with the Greek Pankratos or Slavic Vsevolod), Talivaldis is "the one, who rules over a distance" and Miervaldis is "the one, who rules in/during peace" (compare with German Friderik or Slavic Vladimir).

About my surname Muktupavels

My parents did not tell me anything about the origin of my surname, but as my personal interest grew high, I tried to find out something.

First of all, I discovered that there are such villages as Mukti, Muktini, Augsmukti, Muktkvederi in quite a close vicinity to the village of Muktupaveli near the town of Livani. It means, that "Mukti" is the basic form or the place, from where all the other names have originated: Muktini is diminutive from Mukti, Augsmukti means "the upper/high Mukti", Muktkvederi consists of two separate words - Mukti and Kvederi, where the last stands for the local pronunciation of Theodor. The same can be said about Muktupaveli - it is a compound from Mukti and Paveli.

The old traditional way how Latvians named themselves was: the farm-house name in the genitive case is followed by the person's name (actually - first name, as until the middle of the 19th century there were almost no surnames, except those farm-house names, noble family names and craft designations functioning as the second name). Thus Janis from the farm-house "Lejnieki" is named Lejnieku Janis. Pavels from the farm-house "Mukti" is named Muktu Pavels.

Therefore it can be assumed that a person with a name Pavels or Pauls departed from the original farm-house or village of Mukti and settled in a near-by vicinity. He got married, had a lot of children and soon his new farm-house and its vicinity was known as Muktupaveli. In the summer of 1996 I talked with an old lady, actually my distant relative, and she remembered a story which was told to her by her grandmother. There were three brothers who left their father's farm ­ Mukti. The smallest of the three settled in a place which later became known as Muktini. The other one got his farm lands in a hilly place, and today this place is known as Augsmukti. The third one was the forefather of the Muktupavels' kin.

I tend to assume that this event of the three sons leaving their father's house could have happend shortly after the abolition of serfdom, which took place in Latgale ­ the Catholic part of Latvia ­ in 1861.

And the last question: what does actually Mukti mean? The common Latvian meaning of the corresponding verb "mukt" is "to escape, to run away"; in this sense it can be compared to Sanskrit "mukti" ­ "deliverance, escape from the [earthly] chains". But, as the Latvian-American linguist Valdis Zeps thinks, "mukti" is derived from the verb "mukt" with just the opposite meaning (it happens so) ­ "to stick, to get stuck in the mud"; therefore "mukti", which does not mean anything to the modern Latvians, might have had the meaning "a swampy place" (a corresponding and well-understood modern Latvian word with the same root would be "muklajs"). And indeed, in the vicinity of the Mukti village there are quite big swamps (named "Skrebelu purvs"), and today those places are known as being good for picking of gooseberries.