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!

The international technological art exhibition 'Enter Woodland Spirits'

On June 28, at 4 p.m., we will open an international technological art exhibition Enter Woodland Spirits. The show together with our new online anthology Estonian Nature Folklore is part of the main programme of the European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024 (See).
The international technological art exhibition Enter Woodland Spirits explores how technology-driven art can revive the wisdom of folklore and make the essence of nature tangible and perceptible. The nearly 20 participating artists from the Nordic and Baltic countries embrace the essence and reverence for nature in their work. The artists come from Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Latvia and Estonia.
The exhibition Enter Woodland Spirits takes the visitor on a journey through two neighbouring historical buildings on Vanemuise street in Tartu – the Estonian Literary Museum (Vanemuise 42) and the University of Tartu Natural History Museum (Vanemuise 46. There, one may encounter installation environments, sound and video works, interactive installations and other hybrid forms that create immersive spaces where perception is multi-sensory. Several new artworks are based on materials of our new online anthology Estonian Nature Folklore.
Looking forward to seeing you!
The Estonian Literary Museum and organisers of the exhibition Henri Hütt, Evelyn Raudsepp, Taive Särg, Ave Goršič.

Guest lecture: Melinda Harlov-Csortán "Introduction of intangible cultural heritage in Hungary"

Dr. Melinda Harlov-Csortán (Apor Vilmos Catholic College, Hungary) will deliver a guest lecture on
"Introduction of intangible cultural heritage in Hungary. From safeguarding folklore in an ideological driven political system to the management of the Secretariat of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Committee of the Hungarian National Committee of UNESCO"
at the UT Institute of Cultural Research on Tuesday, May 21 at 10:15 am in Ülikooli 16-214, Tartu, Estonia.
Please join us!

Webinar on Monday, 13 May

At the webinar on Monday, 13 May Dr. Liat Steir-Livny (PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Culture, Sapir Academic College, Israel / The Open University of Israel) will present her new book "Holocaust Representations in Animated Documentaries - The Contours of Commemoration (Edinburgh University Press, 2024).
Animated documentaries dealing with the Holocaust, Holocaust survivors, and their descendants constitute a new phenomenon and inaugurate a new field of Holocaust commemoration. This book is the first comprehensive analysis of animated Holocaust documentaries. It explores movies produced in the USA, Canada, Australia, Europe, and Israel.
Based on theories developed in the fields of animated documentary, Holocaust studies, cinema studies, trauma studies, and memory studies, this volume discusses the ways in which animated Holocaust documentaries create a new layer of Holocaust microhistory, their advantages, and their disadvantages. It shows how these movies visualize subject matter that previously eluded live-action documentaries such as the unfilmed past and people’s inner worlds.
The book shows that Holocaust animated documentaries also have specific shortcomings and have generated a new set of problems relating to Holocaust memory and representation. For example, the vast majority marginalize the horrors and instead focus on bravery, resilience, and hope.
The seminar will take place on Monday, 13 May 2024, at 11:00 Tallinn time via MS Teams.
Please use the link to join the seminar

Tatiana Vladykina (8 September 1953- 4 May 2024)

Folklorists often weave symbolism into their narratives and explore how the inner journey of the human being creates myth, prayers, divide the sacred and ordinaray life. She investigated many forms and genres of the Udmurt Folklore. The mentor and mother of the Udmurtia folkloristics, Tatiana Vladykina, was a Doctor of Philology, Professor, honoured scholar of the Udmurt Republic, foreign honorary member of the Finno-Ugric Society (Finland), laureate of the “Soul of Udmurtia” award of the Udmurt Republic in the field of traditional culture (2023), leading researcher of the Department of Philological Research of the Udmurt Institute of History, Language and Literature of the UFRC UD RAS.
She graduated from the Udmurt State University in 1975, and in 1975–1978 she was a doctoral student at the University of Tartu. She has been collecting, investigating and publishing Udmurt folklore since 1972; since 1978 she worked as professional folklorist. During her career she published numerous articles and books, organised fieldwork to collect folklore and ethnographic materials, she was a founder of folkloristic series of books and journals, she was a member of editorial boards for journals, including Estonian SATOR.
She prepared 11 PhD scholars and established a scientific school that demonstrated significant achievements in studying the traditional culture of the peoples of the Ural-Volga region. The younger generation of Udmurt scientists considered her the mother of Udmurt folklore studies. Additionally, Tatiana Vladikina is the author of the Anthem of the Udmurt Republic in the Udmurt language. In scientific circles in Russia and the Finno-Ugric community, she was recognized as a respected and authoritative scientist, leader, organizer, and educator.
In recent years, she closely collaborated with colleagues from the Estonian Literary Museum, as evidenced by joint publications and scientific events. Warm memories of her years of study at Tartu University have preserved friendly relations with colleagues and friends, which continued, in part, thanks to her.
Our deepest condolences to her relatives, colleagues and friends. Let her continue to explore mythical worlds and celestial landscapes. May this journey be rich and interesting.

Folklore: EJF 92 is available

The editors of Folklore: Electronic Journal of Folklore are pleased to announce that a new issue of the journal is available.
Most of the articles in the 92nd issue of EJF are related to gender issues. In their article Eve Annuk and Piret Voolaid discuss representations of gender in Estonian graffiti and street art. The analysis aims to identify gender clichés in graffiti, illustrating stereotypical views from a broader sociocultural perspective, and highlights the role of graffiti and street art in challenging gender stereotypes and bringing novel concepts to the fore.
Rebeka Põldsam analyses homophobic discourses and their Soviet history in Estonia, discussing the links between homophobic discourses and the history of non-normative sex-gender subjects, outlining the official discourse of the period and its manifestations in historical sources.
Ingrid Ruudi’s article focuses on gender-specific experiences of Estonian women architects in the late Soviet and post-Soviet Estonia. The article asks if and to what extent the unwritten rules and prejudices have affected Estonian women architects’ experiences in studying architecture, establishing their careers, combining the responsibilities of professional and private lives, and building up their image as (women) designers in a general sense.
Carola Maria Wide’s study examines girls’ initiation in three contemporary versions of “Little Red Riding Hood”, Angela Carter’s “The Company of Wolves” and “Wolf-Alice”, and Märta Tikkanen’s Rödluvan (Little Red Riding Hood), in relation to “The Story of Grandmother”, popularized by Paul Delarue. The author’s findings show the reach of the heroines’ feminine psychosexual maturity in Carter’s and Tikkanen’s versions, representing an alternative to traditional assumptions of girls’ psychosexuality within normative heterosexuality.
Ahmet Demir’s article is also based on literary sources, discussing the wild woman archetype in the French tale “Bluebeard” and the Turkish fairy tale “İğci Baba”, which are analysed based on archetypal criticism. The author argues that the wild woman archetype and the motifs in the two tales, such as initiation, the forbidden secret room, the irresistible curiosity and desire to know, and the key, are strikingly similar.
Esra Sazyek’s article aims to analyse Crystal Manor Tales (Billur Köşk Masalları), the first Turkish collection of fairy tales, in the context of the grotesque theory. The article examines the meaning and importance of grotesque images in folk literature and suggests a method for reading literary texts in terms of the grotesque, and shows that this aesthetic device, which is as old as human history, has its roots in the literature of the people.
Caihong Zhou and Zongmei Fu present in their study an archetypal analysis of the Queen Mother of the West in Chinese mythology. The article aims to explore different facets of the Queen Mother of the West as a representation of the Great Mother archetype in Jungian psychology and through a longitudinal literature review.
The article by Kolsoum Ghazanfari and Mohammad Seadat Asl aims to introduce, explore, and analyse an oral folk tale, common in some Lur villages in Fārs and Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad provinces in Iran, the plot and storyline of which correspond to those of the myth of Ulysses and the giant Polyphemus in the Odyssey. The study exhibits the cultural exchange between Greek and local-indigenous subcultures of Iran.
Sibel Akgün in her article discusses the structures of dialect as the founding element of social identity on the example of Bursa city, showing that language is one of the most important characteristics in self-motivation and representation in the social identities of individuals and groups.
The issue also presents an overview of a World Ethnology and Anthropology Congress in India, and a book review.
Folklore: EJF is a peer-reviewed open-access academic journal published since 1996, and the current issue is available here.

The „Young Voices”: The Young Researchers of Culture Conference

We kindly invite you to the „Young Voices”: The Young Researchers of Culture Conference.
This year the conference takes place on April 23–24 in Estonian Literary Museum (Vanemuise 42, Tartu).
Programme (April 23)
10:00-11:15 Conference opening and keynote lecture by prof. Shawn Rowland: Urban Mythologies of Bhutan
11:15-11:30 Break
11:30-13:30 Session I Space, Sound and Environment
11:30-12:00 Elisa Kusuma Dewanti: Space, Identity, and Resilience: Navigating the Liminal Landscape of Yogyakarta City
12:00-12:30 Lucya Passiatore: Can We Hear Climate Change? Exploring the Role of Soundscapes in the African Hebrew Israelite of Jerusalem Community
12:30-13:00 Robertho Miguel Paredes Coral: Visual Narratives of the Forest and Tambopata Amazonian Cosmovision
13:00-13:30 Michele Tita: Imagining Wilderness: Engagement with a Non-Perceivable Environment
14:30-16:00 Session II Living Knowledge (Chair: Polina Holitsyna)
14:30-15:00 Jason S. Cordova: Walking the Spirit Road and the Stars of Decision: Exploring Native American Cultural Astronomy and Star Lore of the American Southwest
15:00-15:30 Baobao: An Investigation of the Omen System of Eastern Minyag in Tibet
15:30-16:00 Lodewyk Barkhuizen: Living Knowledge: The Inzuza Spirit as a Particular Domain of Knowledge within South African ‘Traditional’ Healing Practices
16:00-16:15 Break
16:15-17:45 Session III Ancestry and Belonging (Chair: Siarhiej Makarevich)
16:15-16:45 Digne Ūdre: Added Value or Trivialization of Traditions? Commodification and Folk Culture
16:45-17:15 Adedeji Adeniyi: If You’re Black, No Way Back?
17:15-17:45 Ekaterina Praks: Memories etched in Soil: Mustvee Cemetery's Spatial Tapestry
17:45-17:50 Closing remarks, award ceremony
The second day features presentations in Estonian.
Additional information: Natali Ponetajev, Estonian Literary Museum
Organizers: Astrid Tuisk, Mathilda Matjus, Natali Ponetajev, Liisi Jääts, Anni Leena Kolk, Kristel Kivari, Polina Holitsyna, Saara Mildeberg
Estonian Literary Museum, Estonian Folklore Archives, University of Tartu, Tartu Nefa Group, Estonian National Museum, University of Tallinn.

Invitation to a seminar at the Estonian Literary Museum

Dr. Aleida Bertran will read a lecture „International folk festivals, nation-building and transnationalism: A comparative study between Latvia and Northern Catalonia“ on April 11 at 4 p.m.
The lecture will take place on site at the Estonian Literary Museum, Vanemuise 42, Tartu
The rise of cultural nationalism across many regions of Europe between the late 18th and 19th century led to new forms of national and cultural identity expression and self-definition, including folklore. This presentation draws parallelism on the cultural nationalism pathways between Latvia and Northern Catalonia (Eastern Pyrenees) to develop a basis for understanding the role of postmodern international folk festivals with a political agenda in the regions from the mid-20th century until contemporary times. It examines the International Folklore Festival Baltica and the International Sardana Festival of Ceret through the lens of transnationalism and the emerging field of Cultural Border Studies. The presentation also offers an insight into the potential of this festival typology as an instrument for the rapid building of national sentiments in periods of high socio-political activity and as sites of collective memory and commemoration in more stable phases. The study is grounded on fieldwork and archival research undertaken as doctoral research at the Latvian Academy of Culture between 2018 and 2021.
Contacts: Liisi Laineste
Guillem Castañar

Seminar on magical folktales in Polish and East Slavic cultures

Dear colleagues,
You are welcome to the onsite seminar of the Department of Folkloristics on March 18 in Estonian Literary Museum (Vanemuise 42, Tartu).
The event starts at 11 a.m.
Anna Zalewska will give a talk "The Activity of a Witch and a Hag in the Domestic and Family Sphere in Polish and the East Slavic Magic Folktale".
The paper will aim to present how witches and hags interfere in the domestic and family sphere through activities typical for them, like casting spells, weaving/spinning, and acting as midwives in Polish, Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian magic folktales.
A special place will be given to female characters called “witches” or “hags” not because of their supernatural abilities, but due to their cruelty and contentiousness. Since fairy tales are fictional, the title mythological creatures are subject to certain genre conventions. Therefore, a particular emphasis will be put on the functions they perform (mainly the antagonists and the usurpers (false heroines), and less often the helpers).
The records of beliefs and mythological narratives devoted to women with demonic connotations will serve as an interpretive context.
Everybody is welcome to join!

Alina Oprelianska's talk "Age and gender in Ukrainian Wonder Tales"

Dear collegues!
You are welcome to the meeting of Academic Folklore Society, that takes place on the 25th of January in Estonian Literary Museum (Vanemuise 42, Tartu).
The meeting starts at 4:15 p.m.
Alina Oprelianska will give a talk "Age and gender in Ukrainian Wonder Tales".
Gender assignment in fairy tales or wonders tends to be described within the frame of the character’s sexuality, which means that gender is regarded as male, female or the one that belongs to one of the LGBTQ+ categories.
But what if we try to look at gender regardless the sexuality and beyond the modern frame of sexual (self)identification?
A common knowledge is that tasks and rewards are gendered in tales. But what if we look at it outside of male/female paradigm?
The presentation aims to deconstruct gender assignment in Ukrainian wonder tales of the XIX - beginning of the XX centuries from the scope of categories that impacts gender performance and consequently - gender assignment. In the presentation Alina suggests that gender performance in wonder tales occurs in a close relation to character’s age and social status.
Going beyond the idea of “proper” man and woman, she is going to concentrate on such features as job segregation, fertility, pre- or post-childbearing age, social body, and relation to supernatural (direct or through beliefs). For deconstruction, the queer theory and post-colonial approach in order to left behind binarity and naturalization of heteronormativity will be used as well as the theoretical frame of vernacular knowledge.
The research will concentrate on childhood, widowhood, and ageing as productive forms of marginalization. The research is based on wonder tales and belief narratives from Ukrainian folkloric and ethnographic collections of the XIX – beginning of the XX centuries.
Everybody is welcome to join!

A meeting is coming up in the seminar series of the Literary Museum, Tartu

Everyone is invited to listen to the presentation of Anastasiya Fiadotava and Guillem Castañar: "CELSA network project initial results: how do people use humour in the public sphere?"
The presentation outlines the preliminary results of the CELSA network project “Humour and Conflict in the Public Sphere: Communication styles, humour controversies and contested freedoms in contemporary Europe”.
The project focuses on humour that revolves around conflicts and controversies in four countries - Estonia, Belarus, Poland and Belgium. In each of the countries we have identified at least 2 events that provoked a lot of humour in the public spheres of these countries in 2022-2024.
We collected 50 humorous items per event and coded each of the items based on several criteria that define their form and content. In the presentation we will compare humour and reactions to it in the Estonian public sphere based on two case analyses - humour on the Wagner group rebellion and humour on the Kaja Kallas scandal.
Seminar on January 22, 2024 in the seminar room on the 4th floor starting at 11:00 a.m.
Supported by the research project EKM 8-2/20/3 (Estonian Literary Museum) and the CELSA network project.

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