Estonain Folklore

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You are visiting the Estonian folklorists' server Haldjas (fairy, guardian spirit), which was set up in 1995 by the folk belief research group of the Institute of the Estonian Language. Presently, the group and the server have been incorporated under the Estonian Literary Museum. The majority of electronic publications and data corpora in the server are in the Estonian language, which belongs to the Finno-Ugric language family. Estonia is a small country with ca one million people, who speak the Estonian language as their mother tongue.

The server offers a wide range of information on oral heritage, folklore and folk belief, on the institutions actively engaged in folkloristic research in Estonia as well as researchers and research projects. The covered aspects of folklore also include the heritage of other peoples of the Uralic language group. The server features two journals that have been published online and in print since 1996: Mäetagused and Folklore: An electronic Journal of Folklore.

Only parts of the material are currently available in English and/or German; in time the proportion of material in foreign language will grow.

Our news!

Symposium "Scala naturae: Symposium in honour of Arvo Krikmann's 75th birthday" in Tallinn, August 18, 2014

On Monday, August 18, the symposium “Scala naturae: Symposium in honour of Arvo Krikmann's 75th birthday” will be held at the Estonian Academy of Science (Kohtu 6, Tallinn).
The symposium is dedicated to the 75th birthday of Arvo Krikmann, one of the most versatile and productive Estonian folklorist, senior researcher at the Estonian Literary Museum and a member of the Estonian Academy of Sciences.
The current and past works of Arvo Krikmann include an array of topics, ranging from the origin, historiography and textology of Estonian and Baltic-Finnic short forms of folklore to the applications of quantitative methodology in folkloristics and dialectology, but also to the sources of Estonian phraseology and folk rhetoric, the structural levels and interrelations of the short forms of folklore, the syntax, logic, modalities and semantics of figurative speech, classification in paremiology, theoretical approaches to the study of metaphor and other figures of speech, geographical distribution of folklore and dialects, and last but not least, humour.
Some of these topics will be addressed at the symposium by researchers from Estonia, Finland, Russian Federation, Poland, Austra and the USA. Presentations will be in English.
11:00 Welcome coffee at the Academy of Sciences
11.30 – 14.00
Peeter Tulviste (Estonian Academy of Sciences)
Joanna Szerszunowicz (University of Białystok) – Priamels as Carries of Cultural Information
Ülo Valk (University of Tartu) – Animals, Animism and Vernacular Theorising
Alexandra Arkhipova (Russian State University for the Humanities) – To Fear Stalin, to Laugh at Fidel: Two Ways of Tabooing in Authoritarian Societies
Yuri Berezkin (Russian Academy of Sciences (Kunstkamera)) – Three Tricksters: World Distribution of Zoomorphic Protagonists in Folklore Tales
Mare Kõiva (Estonian Literary Museum) – Invented Sacrality
14.00 Coffee break
Peter Grzybek (University of Graz) – Estonian Proverbs: Some Linguistic Regularities
Pekka Hakamies (University of Turku) – Meetings with Arvo Krikmann
Władysław Chłopicki (Jagiellonian University) –The Power of Metonymy
Wolfgang Mieder (University of Vermont) – Futuristic Paremiology: A Plea for the Study of Modern Proverbs
16.30 Book launches
17.00 Reception and speeches
The symposium is organised by the Estonian Literary Museum and the Estonian Academy of Sciences and is supported by the Estonian Cultural Endowment.
Information: Anneli Baran,; Liisi Laineste,; Piret Voolaid,

Vol. 55 of Folklore: EJF came out

The current issue comprises five articles based on the papers presented at the session Archaeology of Holiness at the 12th Nordic Theoretical Archaeology Group meeting in 2012. Anne Carlie and Maria Petersson analyse Swedish archaeological material and its religion-related interpretations. Sonja Hukantaival studies folk religion and its manifestations in archaeological material. Tõnno Jonuks and Tuuli Kurisoo’s article focuses on the problems of Christianisation, the sources and interpretations of ‘Christian influences’. Ester Oras discusses the meanings and differences of two specific terms in the archaeology of religion – sacrifice and offer. In addition, the issue presents the initial results of the three-year research project, The Materiality of Religion: Religious Artefacts in Estonian Archaeological Collections, which was financed by the Estonian Research Foundation (ETF grant 8956).
The special issue of Folklore: EJF has been compiled and edited by Tõnno Jonuks and Ester Oras.
Folklore: EJF 55 can be found as a free online version at

Vol. 54 of Folklore: EJF came out

This special issue of the journal is dedicated to sport and physical movement culture, games and folk dance and is published on the occasion of the 50th jubilee of the Estonian Sports Museum.
The issue begins with an article on an extremely topical theme – doping in sport. Piret Voolaid and Liisi Laineste (Estonian Literary Museum) analyse the doping scandal that broke out in April 2011 and concerned the esteemed Estonian cross-country skier and Olympic gold medal winner, Andrus Veerpalu. The article provides a contribution to the evolution of an athlete as a mythic national hero on the Internet.
The first article is followed by two treatises on ballgames in traditional folk culture. Laurent Sébastien Fournier (University of Nantes) suggests that the example of folk football in England and Scotland enables us to better understand the relationship between sport and violence.
Junwei Yu (National Taiwan University of Physical Education and Sport) discusses in his article connections between baseball and magic in Taiwan, claiming that the Puyuma tribe in Taiwan indubitably applies its folk religion to baseball, and produces a unique sports phenomenon.
Two articles of the issue are dedicated to folk dance. In the first one Sille Kapper (Institute of Fine Arts, Tallinn University) offers an interesting overview of the changes in the concept of ‘folk dance’ in Estonia starting from the end of 19th century until today. Eha Rüütel, Iivi Zajedova and Angela Arraste (Institute of Fine Arts, Tallinn University) in turn analyse interviews with Estonians living abroad and try to find answers to two research questions: 1) What incentives have guided Estonians’ folk dance activity in historical perspective from World War II until today? 2) What qualities originating in Estonian folk dance have motivated people to carry on Estonian folk dance practices?
The section of research is completed by an article on playing culture. Sarita Sahay’s (School of Political and Social Inquiry, Monash University, Melbourne) article aims at exploring how children, particularly in rural areas of Bihar, an economically poor but culturally rich state of India, enjoy their leisure with limited resources available to them.
In addition to research articles, the special issue offers to the readers two writings in the discussion section. Kalle Voolaid (Estonian Sports Museum) introduces an interesting trend in the development of the School Olympic Games in Estonia – the use of traditional sports and games in the School Olympics programme. Dmitry Belyukov (Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Velikiye Luki State Academy of Physical Education and Sports) discusses the traditions of fisticuffs in the north-west of Russia in the Early Middle Ages and in the modern world.
The special issue of Folklore: EJF has been compiled and edited by Piret Voolaid (Department of Folkloristics of the Estonian Literary Museum) and Kalle Voolaid (Estonian Sports Museum).
Folklore: EJF 54 can be found as a free online version at

New book about cultural communication

Liisi Laineste, Dorota Brzozowska & Władysław Chłopicki just published a new book about cultural communication.
A set of comparative articles about creativity and tradition in cultural communication in Estonia and Poland has been published by ELM Scolarly Press. The set consists of two volumes, Volume 1 concentrating on jokes and humour, and Volume 2 on identity creation.
Web Shop: 1) (Volume 2)
Estonia and Poland. Creativity and tradition in cultural communication.
Volume 2: Perspectives on national and regional identity ISBN 978-9949-490-77-6 (Vol. 2, printed version)
ISBN 978-9949-490-78-3 (Vol. 2, web version)
Key words: identity, narratives, media, folklore, cultural studies
Paperback: 248 pages
Language: English
Editors: Liisi Laineste, Dorota Brzozowska & Władysław Chłopicki Tartu:
ELM Scholarly Press
Published: May 2013

Tuesday seminar in the Estonian Literary Museum

A seminar will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 3 PM in the Estonian Literary Museum (room 304). Our guest is a researcher of Viatkan Estonians - Irina Trushkova. She will give an overview of plans for studying the Russian Estonian and Latvian diaspora.
Everyone is welcome to join us!

Academic Folklore Society presents

Academic Folklore Society presents on Wednesday, January 30, 2013: Anu Korb "How to represent a Siberian village? About filmmaking truthiness and ethics". In the spring of 2012, Vahur Laiapea took part in an expedition to Siberia, which provided the raw material for the documentary "Expecting the Victory Day in Haida village, Siberia“ (director Vahur Laiapea, film editor Urmas Sepp, music by Jaak Lutsoja, Ikoon 2013, 36´). The documentary is used as an example for discussing thruth and ethics in making movies.

Tuesday seminar in the Estonian Literary Museum

January 8, 12 noon, in Estonian Literary Museum (room 304): "Publishing in the digital modernist setting“. New trends in scientific publishing are brought to you by Mare Kalda.

Issue 52 of the journal “Mäetagused” came out

Issue 52 of the journal “Mäetagused” is now available to readers.
Under the guidance of guest editor Liisi Laineste this issue features articles from Estonian and Polish humour researchers ( The articles are in Estonian, each with a summary in English. This issue includes an exclusive interview with the Hungarian researcher Mihaly Hoppal. The journal also provides an overview of recent conferences, publications and significant events. The peer reviewed journal “Mäetagused” has been continuously published since 1996 and is available full-text online

Nikolay Kuznetsov defends his doctoral thesis

Nikolay Kuznetsov defends his doctoral thesis on Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012.
The work is titled “Spatial semantics of Komi locative cases (cognitive analysis).” Supervisor Tõnu Seilenthal, opponent Galina Nekrasova (Russian Academy of Sciences, Uralic department, Institute of Komi Language, Literature and History). The manuscript is accessible:

In memoriam Artem Kozmin (March 15, 1976 – February 1, 2013)

On February 1, 2013, at the age of 36, Artem Kozmin, young Russian folklorist and anthropologist, researcher of the Centre of Folklore Typology and Semiotics at the Russian State University for the Humanities, died in Ulan-Bator. Artem Kozmin was a disciple and colleague of the famous Russian folklorist Sergey Neklyudov, a researcher of a wide range of interests and competences. During his short life time, he managed to write about the structure and semantics of narrative folkloric texts, genre systematics and geographic spread of folklore, metrics of poetic texts, and Polynesian languages and tradition, as well as carry out fieldwork in Mongolia and North Caucasus. Artem Kozmin’s contribution to the creation of digital databases and registers, including software, for folklore and myth texts, as well as the development of digital analysis methodology and its practical use in folklore is especially weighty. His candidate’s dissertation entitled Структурно-семантический указатель фольклорных сюжетов компьютерная модель установления связей между текстом и единицами его описания (Structural-Semantic Index of Folklore Plots: A Computer Model for Establishing Text-Index Unit References) was also dedicated to the same topic.
Quite a few Estonian folklorists knew Artem Kozmin personally – either from summer schools of folkloristics at the Russian State University for the Humanities or other science forums. We will remember him with gratitude for his writings, the registers and databases created by him, his numerous invaluable digital gifts to us, as well as his humane empathy and cheerfulness.

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