Main research topics


The main aim is to study legend heritage, belief accounts, contemporary legend, personal experience narratives. Preparation of full text legend publications of the series Monumenta Estoniae Antiquae II.

The studies and articles discuss traditional narratives, but also contemporary legends, personal experience stories and family heritage. Under observation has been the reflection of local history in family heritage, the adaptation of folklore among migrants, folklore transmission between generations and in different periods. Seminars on narrative theory are held regularly.

The main outcome is the completion of academic publications on legend and belief reports on the topics of plague, witch-arrow and forest fairy lore. These present situational analyses, comparison of the real disease and its reflection in narratives, analysis of the text body from the viewpoint of situational analysis, linguistics and semiotics. In progress are studies about the underground people, the popular treatment of malaria, lore about Tõnn, water spirits, werewolves, treasures, lakes, and trees. An attempt has been made to study the narratives of single collectors and narrators.

In order to observe the influence of printed publications on narratives and their reflection in oral tradition, as well as the changing of the narrative model in the 19th and 20th century printed material, a digital archive of earlier publications was established.

Religious Studies

Research into previously uncharted areas, including rituals, revival of old beliefs, religious movements, early Christianity and popular religious movements, mediums and prophets, etc. Preparation of academic reference publications. Articles published in the department's yearbook Sator. Artikleid usundi ja kombeloost touch upon religious movements, prophets, burial customs and ritual food, also the folk belief of our kindred nations, etc. Many studies focus on the institutions and customs related to sacred places. An extensive study on incantations, the comparison of Scandinavian and Estonian prehistoric religion, first of all the reflection of archaic beliefs in Scandinavian sagas and early medieval chronicles, also studies on astral mythology and beliefs have been completed. The culturally and religiously diverse folklore and beliefs of several Finno-Ugric peoples (Votians, Vepsians, Nganassans, Khantys, Mansis, Udmurts, Komis, Mordvins) was under closer observation.


Preparation of full text research articles and publications, research into origin history, metaphors and paroemia. The research focus is on the applicability of contemporary, mainly cognitive metaphor and general structural theories to proverbs, and the formulation of four "metaphoric rules" for proverbs. Analysis of Fauconnier's and Turner's terms of conceptual integration and blend. Principles of and discussion of riddle typology. A database of riddles from a certain region. International co-operation at the project Proverbia Septentrionalia.

Multimedia research, Internet, computer databases, bibliography, historiography

In addition to research, the department follows a steady course of applied research and development. Theses on the principles of compiling folklore bibliography and the bibliography of Estonian folklore were completed in 1998–2000; regular overviews were submitted to the bibliography of European ethnology. Personal bibliographies of Johannes Aavik, Oskar Loorits have been published, and the emergence of non-Estonian collections in the Estonian Folklore Archives has been studied. In progress is a monograph on Estonian folkloristics in the 20th century. A number of theoretical articles have been translated into Estonian (seminars, collections of articles by Dan Ben-Amos, M. Hoppál and Scandinavian folkloristics).

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