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!

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.

Folklore. Electronic Journal of Folklore vol. 91

The 91st volume of Folklore: Electronic Journal of Folklore, compiled by guest editors Mari Sarv, Ave Goršič and Risto Järv, is dedicated to archives as knowledge hubs.
The articles in this volume can be divided into three groups:
(1) the ones dealing with the flow of materials into archives;
(2) the articles that focus on the actions and activities within the archives that by and large remain invisible on the outside; and
(3) the articles inquiring about the new life and uses of archival materials that through different channels and dissemination have flown out of the archives.
In his article on ethnographic fieldwork, Indrek Jääts details the five expeditions made by Aleksei Peterson, director of the Estonian Ethnography Museum, and his colleagues to the Southern Veps’ villages in the late 1960s. The article sheds light on the personality of the researcher, the sociocultural situation, ideological background, institutional framework, recording technologies, as well as research paradigms directing the fieldwork.
Jacek Jackowski explores the value of different types of sources of traditional music in the context of contemporary Polish folk music research and practices, contemplating the real quality and historical truth of the contemporary revival or reconstruction of music, also focusing on the work of folklore collector Oskar Kolberg.
Yanina Hrynevich examines the formation circumstances and development of folklore collections in Belarus, concentrating on the main ideas and the most influential collectors and groups of collectors and the ebbs and tides of the political eras that have influenced this process.
The articles and discussions concentrating on the internal, hidden work of the archives constitute the bulk of this volume. Rūta Žarskienė analyses the activities of the Lithuanian Science Society and the history of its folklore collecting, also illustrating the laborious work of compiling collections and modern digital databases.
Liina Saarlo describes in her article the chess game between the politics, ideologies, folklorists and archives on the example of the Estonian Folklore Archives, exploring the Soviet modernist worldview expressed in research policy, including folkloristics, and its acceptance among Estonian folklorists, and analysing the balancing act of authenticity in folklore research.
Päivi Mehtonen & Tarja Soiniola describe an interdisciplinary project set up for the collection of manuscripts produced during the period of ca. 1780–1830 by craftsmen and peasants along the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia in Finland, the preservation process of the collection, but also the background of the not necessarily positive backdrop of forming such a historic collection.
Viktor Denisov lists the important work of Udmurt and Estonian researchers in collecting and preserving Udmurt folklore.
Katalin Lázár describes the labour and pains of compiling an elaborate database on Hungarian traditional games.
Mall Hiiemäe discusses the historical process of collecting folklore in Estonia and how the Estonian Folklore Archives has built itself up as a knowledge hub, and the responsibility it bears to its informants.
In the out-flow frame, Helen Kõmmus studies, compares and analyses participatory music-making at Estonian and Finnish folk music festivals, arguing that although the social dynamics of Finnish and Estonian festival participants may vary, the ultimate goal is still to form a united community, (re)presenting the old for the future of the new.
Sille Kapper-Tiisler analyses a part of dance folklore that is not so easily archived, described or reproduced – the bodily dimension of dance movements. She points out that as well as archives, human bodies are also knowledge hubs, which collect, preserve, develop and pass on the knowledge, and in order to understand the dance manuscripts in their depth, the dance descriptions need to be re-bodied to understand their true nature.
Carme Oriol and Emili Samper illustrate the experience of opening a folklore archive structured under a university to society and the social impact an archive could possibly have on society with its activities and open-access databases.
The issue also offers an overview of a conference focusing on the study of modern traditions, and of an Estonian-Udmurt webinar about visual recording, as well as a book review.
Folklore: EJF is a peer-reviewed open-access academic journal published since 1996, and the current issue is available online.

Lecture series by Guillem Castañar on Catalan culture

On Thursdays, 16th november, 23rd November, 7th December and 14th December at 5 p.m. (time in EET) lectures will be held in the 4th floor seminar room of the Estonian Literary Museum, Tartu.
This series of lectures about Catalan culture kicks off with a session devoted to festivals in Catalonia. We will look at the origins and meanings of some of the most important Catalan celebrations. As Christmas is approaching, we will look into certain details that make the Catalan version of this festivity rather unique.
Catalonia is a land rich in tradition. The second chapter of this series pays attention to two of the more outstanding features of Catalan folklore: the castellers, or “human towers”, and the national dance, also known as sardana. Are they just traditions or there is more to it than meets the eye?
The language is arguably the most important marker of Catalan identity. Despite its status as an official language within Spain and the numerous protective measures enacted by successive regional governments, Catalan keeps struggling and some predict its disappearance. What are its peculiarities? What are the effects of globalisation on a minoritized language?
Although traditionally a homogeneous Catholic country, recent mass migration and globalisation processes have significantly altered the religious landscape of Catalonia. We will look at current trends, but also at the special role that through history the Catholic Church has played in the country regarding its identity.
Join on-site or via TEAMS
Supported by Integration Foundation (Ministry of Culture, Republic of Estonia)

Invitation for the seminar Día de los Muertos in Mexico / Hingedepäev in Estonia

On Thursday, 2 November 2023, at 12 noon (time in EET), a seminar dedicated to All Souls' Day will be held in the 4th floor seminar room of the Estonian Literary Museum, Tartu.
The meeting is entitled "Día de los Muertos in Mexico / Hingedepäev in Estonia".
The lecturers will be
Lisseth Pedroza Fuentes who will give a talk "Day of the Dead in Mexico, a shared heritage"
Mare Kõiva who will give an overview of the soul in Estonian tradition and
Reet Hiiemäe. Her paper is entitled "Gendered and located communication with the souls"
The seminar will be chaired by Tõnno Jonuks from the Estonian Literary Museum.
The meeting will take place in English and will be accessible via TEAMS link
Feel free to come and participate in the seminar!
Supported by the research project EKM 8-2/20/3 (Estonian Literary Museum).

The online-lecture by Eda Kalmre on Friday, 6th October, at 5 p.m. CEST

We are pleased to share the announcement of the ISFNR Belief Narrative Network:
Dear Belief Narrative Network / ISFNR members, dear Friends, dear Colleagues,
The 28th online lecture of the ISFNR Belief Narrative Network Online Lecture Series will be given on Friday, 6th October, at 5 p.m. CEST by Eda Kalmre from the Estonian Literary Museum (Tartu, Estonia).
Her talk is titled "The Lilac Lady: The Etiology of a Collective Belief-Legend (A case study)".
The lecture will analyse the emergence and the stages of development of a ghost story, formed about a century years ago, and related to the present-day building of the Estonian Literary Museum and its collective.
The investigation builds heavily on the theories on the elaboration of legends by Lauri Honko, Linda Dégh and Andrew Vázsonyi, Jans Harold Brunwand, and Bill Ellis. It also contributes to the achievements of contemporary legend research.
Among other things, the talk highlights the extent to which a specific narrator can influence the creation of a story and its persistence in the repertoire. It also dwells on the role of community and media in the formation and preservation of the legend, and how the fiction and reality – persons, locations and (tragic) events – appear side by side in the story.
The analysis is based on rich archival material, and the speaker’s more than two decades long ethnographic field research, including participant observations, and several interviews.
Eda Kalmre is senior research fellow at the Department of Folkloristics of the Estonian Literary Museum. Her research interests include Estonian children and youth lore, the types of Estonian folktales, history and methodology of folklore, contemporary media and storytelling, rumours, and urban legends. She is the author of several articles, anthologies, and textbooks.
She is a member of the editorial boards of important Estonian and international journals and publications. Here monographs are What a Wonderful World of Legends (ELM Scholarly Press 2018) and The Human Sausage Factory: A Study of Post-War Rumour in Tartu (Rodopi 2013), the latter of which won the International Society of Contemporary Legend Research (ISCLR) Brian McConnell Award for Best Legend and Folklore Research.
Join Zoom Meeting
Judit Kis-Halas
on behalf of the Belief Narrative Network Committee: Eva Þórdís Ebenzersdóttir, Petr Janeček, Judit Kis-Halas (chair), Kristel Kivari, Kaarina Koski, Mare Kõiva, Margaret Lyngdoh, Bela Mosia, Maria Ines Palleiro, Sonja Petrović, Nemanja Radulović, Tok Thompson.

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