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!

New publication out: Variation in Folklore and Language (eds. Piret Voolaid and Saša Babič). Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing 2019

We are happy to present to you a new publication titled Variation in Folklore and Language, published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing in October 2019. The publication edited by Piret Voolaid and Saša Babič focuses on issues related to variations in language, folklore, and music/dance, and the confluences and connections between different variations. The authors of nine chapters deal with different temporal aspects of variation: synchronic and diachronic, different levels (individual, local, regional, historical), comparisons (registers, dialects, genres), factors influencing variation, and methods for studying them. Variation is seen as the main basis for the dynamics of folklore, and an issue of typology; variation makes the world go round.
An important part of the volume is dedicated to variations of myths and motifs, creativity, intertextuality, and transmediality.
The volume opens with the chapter “Ethnos in Words”, which discusses one of the frequently used methods in research culture, i.e., ethnolinguistics as a special method occurring on the borderline of linguistics, ethnology, and folkloristics.
Antra Kļavinska’s article focuses on the toponymic and anthroponymic system of the Latgale dialect and Latgalians’ analyses of the contextual semantics of the ethnonyms denoting Estonians in the texts of Latgalian folklore and in the corpus of modern Latgalian texts.
Nikolai Antropov discusses the continuation and variation of the Moscow ethnolinguistic school in the Belarusian context, emphasizes their similarities and differences, and shows how one method can manifest variations in different cultural contexts.
Elena Boganeva demonstrates the use of the motif of the Tower of Babel in the Belarusian oral Bible. Her discussion is extended with variants of the Babel motif found in Slavic folklore, as well as with parallels and similarities in the structural motifs of other topics of the Old Testament.
The second part, “Colourful Folklore”, consists of three studies on the variation of colours in folk tradition. Tiiu Jaago discusses colour variation in Estonian folk songs and focuses on the use of ‘red’ and ‘blood-red’ in Estonian regilaul, based on the concept of formula.
Chapters written by Piret Voolaid and Saša Babič discuss riddles and a variety of colour names within them. The articles complement each other by offering a comparison between two different languages (Estonian vs. Slovenian), language groups (Finno-Ugric vs. Slavic) and environments (north vs. south). They provide a detailed insight into folk perceptions of colours and into how the variations of their cognitive imaginaries are presented in riddles; they also discuss how the genre of riddles has varied through time.
The third part, “Culture and Entertaining Variation”, discusses festival, dance, and media variations within time and society. Yulia Krasheninnikova introduces folkloric archival data on Saint Nicholas’ Day in Kazhym and revitalization of this holiday. The next study is a folkloristic research on dance by Sille Kapper and Madli Teller. Based on the reviewed Hungarian and Norwegian examples as well as their own research in Estonia, the authors suggest that the methodical analysis of audio visual sources – both formal and embodied – is applicable for rediscovering the bodily knowledge inherent in the variability of traditional dance.
The last chapter by Siim Sorokin takes us into the present time with today’s television genre and analyses the discourse of a television serial Breaking Bad, with a focus on the blogs presenting viewers’ discussions. The article gives an overview of the variety of ways that people express themselves on provocative topics.
The volume is a result of a transdisciplinary annual conference that was organized by the Centre of Excellence in Estonian Studies under the heading Variation in Language, Literature, Folklore, and Music, in cooperation with the Estonian Literary Museum and the University of Tartu, in Tartu, Estonia, on 7–8 December 2017. It was the fifth conference in the series “Dialogues with Estonian Studies”, and it brought together international scholars working in the spheres of culture, literature, linguistics, folklore, communication, humour studies, translation and interpretation.
The edition of this book was made possible thanks to the support of the Centre of Excellence in Estonian Studies (CEES, TK 145, European Regional Development Fund) and is related to research projects “Narrative and Belief Aspects of Folklore Studies” (IUT 22-5, Estonian Research Council) and Mobilitas Pluss postdoctoral researcher grant “Tradition and Innovation: Short Forms of Folklore and Contemporary Cultural Dialogues” (MOBJD33, Estonian Research Council).

Symposium dedicated to the 80th anniversary of the Academician Arvo Krikmann at the Estonian Literary Museum

In July this year the renowned folklorist Academician Arvo Krikmann (1939–2017) would have turned 80. To celebrate this, a symposium will be held at the Estonian Literary Museum on Saturday, September 7, under the auspices of the annual Centre of Excellence in Estonian Studies conference. This will also mark the occasion of donating Arvo Krikmann's personal library to the ELM.
Arvo Krikmann's research was internationally widely known and highly appreciated. In his extensive studies he dealt principally with short forms of folklore and their sources, folk humour, semantics of phraseology and theory of figurative speech.
His varied interests are reflected in the composition of his library that contains over 1500 items of academic literature, including books, manuscripts, lecture notes. The library also holds a number of unique books that professor Krikmann had attained through his established network of academic connections.
At the symposium, colleagues of Arvo Krikmann will present their latest findings related to the main research fields of the Academician.
9.00-10.00 Plenary session (Big lecture hall): Opening of the Personal Library of Academician Arvo Krikmann Donated to the Estonian Literary Museum
Chair: Liisi Laineste
Władysław Chłopicki: Study of Folklore and Humour through Creative Imagination
10.00-10.30 Coffee break
10.30-12.00 Parallel session XI (Big lecture hall): Representations of Short Forms of Folklore and Humour: In Honour of Academician Arvo Krikmann
Chair: Piret Voolaid
Liisa Granbom-Herranen: With Sense and Sensibility. Academician Arvo Krikmann’s Studies in Paremiology
Jonathan Roper: Dictionaries as a Source for Folklore: Advantages and Disadvantages
Sergey Troitskiy: Between Fun, Gun and Ban. Is Parody Dangerous for Official Discourse?
The symposium is organised by the Deptartment of Folkloristics of the Estonian Literary Museum and it is supported by the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research (IUT22-5), and by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund (Centre of Excellence in Estonian Studies).
Information: Liisi Laineste,; Piret Voolaid,

Folklore: EFF 76 - Komi edition

We are very glad to present to you the special edition of Folklore: Electronic Journal of Folklore dedicated to Komi folkloristics. The publication is compiled by N. Kuznetsov and L. Lobanova and is an expert of today’s Komi folklore studies. The articles present various methodological approaches to the selection and analysis of folklore material as well as the scientific interests of Komi folklore researches. The issue was prepared within the framework of cooperation between the Department of Folkloristics of the Estonian Literary Museum and the Folklore Department of the Komi Science Centre.
The article by Oleg Uliashev is about the ethnic-cultural and ethnic-genetic links between the Komi, Khanty, and Mansi peoples. On the basis of folklore and ethnographic and historical materials, the author suggests that some Khanty groups are formed of Komi, Khanty, and Mansi components.
Pavel Limerov analyses some storylines of Komi legends about the creation of the world. The object of analysis is a contamination of mythological stories of earth-diving and world creation from an egg. The article considers in detail the main components of the stories that have no parallel in similar texts.
Anatoly Paniukov studies the origin and usage of zaum’ – a complicated and very peculiar phenomenon. The author analyses one particular example of the Komi charming ritual and offers a hypothesis that linguistic transformations known as zaum’ can appear as a result of using the source text in the rhythmic matrix of becharming procedures.
Liudmila Lobanova discusses the verbal component of cattle-breeding rituals. The becharming texts are divided into five types: sentence, ritual dialogue, spell, lamentation, and prayer. A structural and semantic analysis of the most popular sentences gives rise to the definition of two types of texts: close-structure and open-structure sentences.
The article by Alexei Rassykhaev is dedicated to a children’s game of calling a house spirit (domovoi), which is unique for the traditional Komi culture. Various versions of the game have similar scenarios and the goal of the game is to verify whether the creature exists, and establish contact with it.
Galina Savelyeva presents the dynamics of Christmas youth gatherings in the Vishera micro-local tradition. The author describes the different stages of this set of rituals: traditional, Soviet-time teenagers, and today.
The article by Julia Krasheninnikova and Svetlana Nizovtseva introduces folklore materials collected in the twenty-first century from the Russian population of the mining villages in the Komi Republic. The authors analyse the Christmas rituals and the poetry used by children and adults when visiting neighbours during Christmas.
The final article of the collection by Julia Krasheninnikova analyses the scenarios of oral historical prose in the same local tradition.
From editorial board you can find the aricle about Kasks diaspora in the Republic of Kyrgystan by Bibiziya Kalshabayeva, Gulnara Dadabayeva and Dauren Eshkebaev.
The articles are followed by an interview and a book review.
The issue is available online at

The Centre of Excellence in Estonian Studies 9th Annual Conference is dedicated to performativity and perception at the age of technological change

The 9th annual conference of The Centre of Excellence in Estonian Studies titled „Perception and Performativity in Arts and Culture in the Age of Technological Change“ will take place from 5th to 7th of September in Estonian Literary Museum in Tartu.
Contemporary society is affected by technology on all levels of our lives and it is an important topic for a number of research fields. In culture, the digitalisation is not only visible through the different uses of technology by artist and audience, but more by the new ways of communicating and creating socio-cultural contexts. The conference focuses on these changes in our culture, more precisely in theatre, literature, film, music and folklore.
The keynote speakers of this interdisciplinary conference are cultural theorist and critic professor Mieke Bal from the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, professor of literary theory Marina Grišakova from University of Tartu and professor Władysław Chłopicki from Jagiellonian University, Poland.
The exact schedule of the conference as well as the theses of the presenters and found on the webpage
There are presenters from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, India, Russia, Bulgaria, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Austria, Romania and Ireland.
Conference is free and open for all interested in these topics.
Conference is organised by working group of the Centre of Excellence in Estonian Studies on narrative studies and PUT1481 ("The Role of Imaginary Narrative Scenarios in Cultural Dynamics").
The conference is supported by the European Regional Development Fund (Centre of Excellence in Estonian Studies – CEES, TK 145) and is free of charge for participants.
Info: Hedi-Liis Toome, lecturer of theatre studies, Institute of Cultural Research,
Piret Voolaid, senior researcher, Estonian Literary Museum,

Folklore 73 is out!

It is our pleasure to present to you the 73rd issue of Folklore: Electronic Journal of Folklore under the title The Heritagization of the Isonzo Front, with Jurij Fikfak and Božidar Jezernik as guest editors.
The end of the First World War left a deep imprint on the social and cultural environment in Europe as well as lobally, causing the collapse of empires and emergence of new (nation-)states, changing economies and cultural dominants. This issue of Folklore: Electronic Journal of Folklore is dedicated to a specific region – the Julian Alps, the battles that were fought there and their heritagization in today’s culture.
In the introduction, the guest editors give an overview of the cultural heritage of the Isonzo Front, which was one of the greatest, most tragic, and largely overlooked campaigns during the First World War. This is followed by a historical introduction by Marko Štepec, “The Experience and Memory of Trenches near the Soča River”, in which the author outlines not only the history of the battles taking place on this front, but also all the tragedy of life along the front and supplying the front. Jaka Repič in his article “Memorialization of the First World War in the Landscape of the Julian Alps” addresses issues of memorialization processes and heritage construction, which are inscribed into the landscapes of the Isonzo Front in Slovenia.
Tatiana Bajuk Senčar in her article “From the Hinterland: Commemorating the Centenary of World War I in Bohinj” uses the concrete example of the Bohinj Valley in north- western Slovenia to document and analyze diverse practices of commemoration and heritagization of the First World War.
Miha Kozorog in his article “Knowledge of Place in Three Popular Music Representations of the First World War” explores the perception, reception, and production of images of the First World War, based on three recent representations in Slovenian popular music.
Local collectors as a type of actors are analyzed by Boštjan Kravanja in his article “Learning by Collecting: Amateur Collectors and Their Shifting Positions in the Isonzo Front Heritagization and Tourism Adaptation”.
This issue is supplemented by three articles from the editorial board. The article co-authored by Eva Toulouze, Ranus Sadikov, Laur Vallikivi, Liivo Niglas, and Nikolai Anisimov is the continuation to the first part published in Folklore 72, and analyses the changes that were introduced in the revitalization process in several dimensions of religious practice of a marginal Udmurt group living in Bashkortostan: the use of sacred space, the role of different actors, the proceedings of the rituals, the transmission of the prayers, the costume of the priests, and the behavior of the participants.
Tiiu Jaago in her article “Multi-dimensional Borders in Narration” analyzes the story of two Estonian soldiers (so-called Finnish Boys, a volunteer Estonian unit in the Finnish army), who escaped the Finnish army during the Continuation War. This story of the escape and crossing the state border is dealt with from the aspect of experience and narration.
Rahman Veisi Hasar and Ebrahim Badakhshan’s article „Metaphorical Integrations in Kurdish Riddles” investigates the metaphorical integrations of riddles in the Kurdish language, analyzing 100 Kurdish riddles according to the blending theory of metaphor.
The news section of the issue presents an overview of the all-Estonian school lore collecting action that took place from February to May 2018, reviews of an international conference under the heading “Polar Readings 2018: Technology in the History of the Arctic Development”, and the interim conference of the International Society for Folk Narrative Research, and a book review.

Balkan and Balticum. Current Studies in the Postsocialist Space is online

Sator 18, "Balkan and Balticum. Current Studies in the Postsocialist Space", edited by Ekaterina Anastasova and Mare Kõiva is online.
We invite you to visit our website to read and download articles:
An interdisciplinary collection of studies focused on cultural and religious processes in the example of two countries with a long-standing tradition of cultural research: Estonia and Bulgaria.
The articles focused on changes in the cultural processes of both post-socialist nation states, exploring problems that exist in modern society: minorities and small communities with their identity creation, and migration patterns; sacral places and religiousness; hobbies of contemporary city dwellers.
This collection of articles is the outcome of the bilateral project "Balkan and Baltic Holiness – Modern Religiosity and National Identity" (supported by both national academies of sciencies), research carried out by the Department of Balkan Ethnology, the Institute for Ethnology and Folklore Studies with the Ethnographic Museum, the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and the Department of Folkloristics at the Estonian Literary Museum.
Sator is an open access multilingual publication of the WG of Religious Studies of the Department of Folkloristics at the Estonian Literature Museum. The journal is published by the Estonian Literature Museum (ELM Scholarly Press.)
More Information: Mare Kõiva, Co-editor of the Sator 18, Estonian Literature Museum

Incantatio 6, (2017) edited by James Kapalo and Jenny Butler is online

We invite you to visit our web site to read and download articles:
The papers presented here engage with the theme from a range of perspectives; historical change and the impact of modernity (Dillinger, Radchenko); theoretical and methodological innovation driven by the digital and virtual worlds (Ilyefalvi, Sawden) and the evolving ways in which charms and charmers have been viewed and represented in different societies over time (Milne, Tausiet, Leitão) are explored and reflected on from different disciplinary perspectives.
Incantatio is an open access publication of the ISFNR WG "The Charms, Charming and Charmers". The journal is published by the Estonian Literature Museum (ELM Scholarly Press.)

Table of content is available or

With best regards,
Mare Kõiva
Editor-in-Chief of the journal
Estonian Literature Museum

Folklore: An Electronic Journal of Folklore special issue on (post-)Soviet military bases in Central and Eastern Europe

The latest issue (70) of Folklore: An Electronic Journal of Folklore “Small Places, Large Issues” (Vol. 70), guest edited by Elo-Hanna Seljamaa, Dominka Czarnecka, Dagnosław Demski, provides insights into the complicated cultural and social landscapes of post-Cold War military bases in Central and Eastern Europe. Eight case studies from the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Poland and Russia by scholars from diverse disciplinary backgrounds explore how military objects erected during the Cold War years continue their existence in the narratives and practices of the local population, national memory politics, and top-down development scenarios.
By foregrounding the perspective of the everyday, this volume seeks to contribute to a more nuanced and diversified understanding of the nature and effects of the Soviet/Russian military presence in CEE, and how this period and remnants thereof have been and could be recycled and mobilized for new purposes; how the Cold War as it was lived east of the Iron Curtain is remembered and narrated under the present circumstances, which are both radically different and unsettlingly similar.

Folklore 69 came out

It is our pleasure to present to you the latest issue of Folklore: Electronic Journal of Folklore, with Eda Kalmre as the guest editor. This special issue focuses on the research of conspiracy theories, contemporary legends, and rumours – sets of ideas and practices, their spread, consistence, and models, spreading as newslore, fake news, and communication styles – which strongly influence today’s society and often create insecurity. Rumours and their related genre, legends, have a significant role in today’s social and everyday communication, and articles presented here proceed from these two genres.
The first article by Anastasiya Astapova is about presidential election folklore in Belarus, which is a non-democratic country and where the results of the elections are known in advance. The author shows, based on her fieldwork examples, how the genres of rumours and jokes are interconnected, sometimes to the point of being indiscernible.
Zuzana Panczová presents in her article one of the typical features of conspiracy theories – a dualistic worldview, which explains important events as a consequence of a hidden struggle between ‘Us’ and the dark forces. The author points out the functions of the concept of the West as an ‘enemy’ in rumours and conspiracy theories.
Alexander Panchenko’s article deals with the role of conspiratorial motifs and themes in the formation and transmission of what is known as ‘contemporary legend’. The author shows how and why the present-day conspiracy theories and practices of ‘conspiratorial hermeneutics’ are inspired by particular combinations of emotional, moral, and epistemological expectations.
Eda Kalmre and Liisi Laineste write about the cult of president Putin and the media behaviour related to the recent rumours concerning Putin’s disappearance from the public eye during a ten-day period in March 2015. The analysis of the data obtained from global news coverage and from social media sheds light on the inner workings of rumour and humour in social media and its effect on the dissemination and content of folklore.
Amandine Regamey writes about a very influential story, a rumour and contemporary legend, which accompanies all military conflicts provoked by Russia. The article explores the different aspects of a war legend about women-snipers, which was born among soldiers, was embodied in fiction and popular culture, and was used in Russian official propaganda.
Mari-Liis Madisson in her article explicates how the leakages concerning the details of the top-secret United States government mass surveillance programme PRISM were contextualised in the Estonian public information space. The Snowden affair received strong public feedback as it touched the cornerstone of contemporary identities – the right for free Internet.
This issue is supplemented by two articles from the editorial board. Antti Lindfors explores the notions of performativity and performance in digital environments from the combined perspective of linguistic anthropology and folkloristics. He analyses two different cases of digital communication, the first manifesting an instance of everyday SMS messaging between two friends, the second concerning the so-called Per-looks media event that took place in Finland in October 2012.
Annikki Kaivola-Bregenhøj’s article is dedicated to riddles and humour. She argues that riddles exist in a performance context in which all the participants want to enjoy the game. The situation simultaneously involves both entertainment and humiliation, because riddles are intended to mislead the listener.
The news section of the issue presents a book review and overviews of different conferences.

Folklore 68 came out!

We are happy to present to you the latest issue of Folklore: Electronic Journal of Folklore 68, with Janika Oras as the guest editor. This special issue is a continuation to Folklore 67, dedicated to oral singing traditions.
The first two articles of this issue observe Seto culture from different perspectives. Andreas Kalkun, in his article “Introducing Setos on Stage: On the Early Performances of Seto Singing Culture”, paints a colourful picture of the appropriation of Seto culture by the entrepreneurial and creative local elite of the neighbouring areas of the Seto region, who aspired to stage exoticism of the late nineteenth century.
The next article, continuing with the Seto theme, is Žanna Pärtlas’ “On the Relict Scales and Melodic Structures in the Seto Shepherd Tune Kar’ahääl”. The author shows the extensive variation of the musical scales of herding songs, which have survived in the oral tradition until the present day. The results of her analysis have inspired the author to improve the existing theories on the processes of scale formation.
Another music-related article, “Historical Skolt Sami Music and Two Types of Melodic Structures in Leu′dd Tradition” by Marko Jouste discusses the individual leu′dd song tradition that is central to the Skolt Sami culture. Jouste introduces the model of fragmentary phrase structure, characteristic of the earlier leu′dd, and demonstrates how the living song tradition has incorporated melodies and other musical features from the neighbouring cultures while preserving its main characteristics and identity.
In the second part of their co-authored article, “Star Bride Marries a Cook: Processes of Change in the Oral Singing Tradition and in Folk Song Collecting on the Western Estonian Island of Hiiumaa. II”, Helen Kõmmus and Taive Särg take a closer look at the songs of Hiiumaa Island, giving examples of unique hybrid forms characteristic of the region, which have developed as a result of a longer coexistence of different styles.
Aado Lintrop in his article “Where Do Songs Come From? An Attempt to Explain Some Verses of Regilaul” directs his attention to the former magic function of objects depicted in verses about singing skills. These objects bestowed the singer with the power to recreate and perform long epic texts. The author discusses the religious background of the imagery in Estonian regilaul by pointing out parallels with several shamanic cultures. The article titled “How Old Is Runosong? Dating the Motifs of Burial-Related Folk Songs by Using Archaeological Material” by Pikne Kama approaches the Estonian singing tradition from an archaeologist’s perspective, searching for manifestations of period specific tangible culture and burial practices behind the poetic images of songs related to death and burial.
The last article in the issue, titled “The Motif of Apple in Different Cultures and Its Usage in Anatolian Folk Songs”, by Ahmet Emre Dağtaşoğlu, discusses the motif of apple frequently encountered in different times and cultures. The author points out its meanings in different cultures and analyses this motif in the context of Anatolian folk songs, introducing the relations of this motif therein and in other cultures.
The news section of the issue presents two conference overviews, two book reviews, and introduces some thoughts evoked by a doctoral dissertation defence at the University of Tartu.

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