March 16 is Lithuanian Book Smugglers Day. In the late 19th century, smugglers transported Lithuanian language books into Lithuanian-speaking areas of the Russian Empire, defying a ban on such materials in force from 1864 to 1904. The book smugglers (Lithuanian: knygnešys, or plural knygnešiai, Polish: kolporterzy książek) became a symbol of Lithuanians’ resistance to Russification, and the book smugglers were an important part of the Lithuanian National Revival. Book smuggler Jurgis Bielinis, who created a secret distribution network for banned Lithuanian books, was born on 16 March 1846, a date commemorated in Lithuania as the Day of the Book Smugglers (Knygnešio diena).
This image of Jurgis Bielinis is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright is the author’s life plus 70 years or less.