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!

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.

Conference “At the source of living tradition” at the Estonian Literary Museum (via TEAMS)

On 4–6 October 2023 an international online conference dedicated to the 70th jubilee of Udmurt folklorist Tatiana Vladykina, under the heading “Калык кылослэн визыл ошмесъёсыз” – “At the source of living tradition”, takes place at the Estonian Literary Museum.
Tatiana Vladykina is a famous Udmurt folklorist, 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 has been organising fieldwork to collect folklore and ethnographic materials. She is author and editor of the series Udmurt Folklore, Cultural Monuments of Folklore Heritage, Udmurt Ritual Primer. Her contribution to the studies of Udmurt folklore, mythology and traditional culture is priceless.
Tatiana Vladykina’s studies are important also for Finno-Ugric folkloristics.
The conference discusses topics related to fieldwork, traditional culture today, and mythology studies.
See also the conference homepage
The conference is organised through the platform Microsoft Teams and is available on KirmusTV.
The program of the conference is available here
The event is organised by the Department of Folkloristics of the ELM, in partnership with the Udmurt Research Institute and the Udmurt State University.
Contacts: Mare Kõiva,
Nikolai Anisimov,

The Anderson Lecture by Bengt af Klintberg

The Department of Estonian and Comparative Folklore are pleased to announce that the Anderson Lecture for 2023, The Baby on the Track: A Newspaper Legend with Roots in the 19th Century will be delivered by Bengt af Klintberg.
The lecture will take place on October 5, at 6.15 P.M, Ülikooli 16- 212, Tartu.
This year's Anderson lecturer is Bengt af Klintberg, the well-known Swedish folklorist, internationally acclaimed for his work on contemporary legends. His work on legends includes Råttan i pizzan (The Rat in the Pizza) and Den stulna njuren (The Stolen Kidney. Klintberg is so widely known for this that the Swedish word for the genre was for a while klintbergare (i.e. "klintbergers").
He has also studied other aspects of folklore, including Swedish verbal charms. And af Klintberg is also a poet and a visual artist.
In a novel by a Chinese author, Yu Hua, the birth of the main character takes place in a train toilet. He falls down on the track and survives.
During the last thirty years news stories with this content have been reported several times. The event is mostly said to have taken place in China or India.
From a folkloristic perspective the story can be defined as a newspaper legend. Like contemporary legends in oral tradition newspaper legends often are about accidents where babies are involved. As opposed to the orally transmitted legends they not seldom have a happy ending; they are published as a counterbalance to all real accidents that daily papers have to report.
The oldest version of “The Baby on the Track” was published already in 1888 in a medical journal. The author, the famous physician William Osler, had a reputation for being a practical joker, and it is today difficult to judge if his story is based on a real case or invented by Osler.
More information: Liilia Laaneman-Nekoliak liilia.laaneman(ät)

Online-seminar Philosophy of War and War in Philosophy: Philosophical Reaction to the War

July 10, 2023, 16:00-18:00
Aleksey Kamenskikh (University of Bremen) - How to turn the Patriarch of the Enlightenment into a war hawk? Voltaire, Catherine II and the antiquising imagination / Как превратить патриарха Просвещения в ястреба войны? Вольтер, Екатерина II и «антикизирующее воображение»
Mikhail Nemtsev (Independent institute of Philosophy) -
Philosophy of War and War in Philosophy. Philosophical reaction to the war / Философия войны и война в философии. Философская реакция на войну.
More information about the seminar here
Microsoft Teams meeting. Click here to join the meeting
Supported by the project EKM 8-2/20/3 of the Estonian Literary Museum.

Artistic interpretation of the war in general and specific events. Online seminar

Online seminar via Teams: June 19, 2023, 16:00-18:00
1. Michael Cole (University of Tartu, Estonia)
The calm before the storm: Cultural resistance to Russia in Ukraine before February 2014
2. Svetlana Maslinskaya (Grenoble Alpes University, France)
Chrono-journey in Children's Literature about War: the Evolution of Commemorative Pragmatics / Хронопутешествие в детской литературе о войне: эволюция коммеморативной прагматики.
See more.
Microsoft Teams meeting Click here to join the meeting
Supported by the project EKM 8-2/20/3 of the Estonian Literary Museum

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