Mäetagused vol. 24


Oskar Loorits Oskar Loorits and the Livonians

Renate Blumberga

Oskar Loorits' expedition to the Livonians began in June 1920 in the Luzhnas village. Loorits was well-liked among the Livonians, and was even given nicknames - Valdapää (Livonian for `white head') and Nuorizand (`the young master'). Many families treated him as their own son and he got well along with children. Among the memories of the older generation only few mention other scholars from the 1920s-1930s, while the name and actions of Oskar Valdapää Loorits are remembered by many.

In 1920, after the forced evacuation during World War I in Latvia, Estonia and Russia, many lose their language, which had previously been used only at home. The only Livonian-language piece of literature was Matthew's Gospel (the most recent edition published in 1880). Livonian fishermen were poor and uneducated, and therefore were in risk of Latvianisation. Loorits' own feelings on the Livonian issue, which he expressed in the Estonian press since 1920, alternate between optimism and deep pessimism.

Science and Folk Perceptions

Undo Uus

Modern science is extremely sceptical towards the dilemma of God's existence. Which side of the argument might prove right in this historical confrontation - the one based on traditional religions and folk perceptions or that based on modern doctrines of science? Given the present-day level of human knowledge and reasoning - to what extent can we know whether God exists or not?

In trying to answer the question about God's possible existence it might be more reasonable to regard God as an immensely powerful freewill being, rather than as an infinitely powerful one.

First, the idea of an infinitely powerful being is probably a contradiction in itself, and, secondly, to all intents and purposes there is no difference to us whether God is infinitely powerful, or has some degree of immense power. To avoid terminological confusion and instead of using the term God, this immensely but not necessarily infinitely powerful being can be called a Super-powerful Freewill Agent, SFA for short. The issue can be approached from two aspects: (i) How plausible is the hypothesis that SFA exists, and (ii) Do we have any arguments in favour of the actual existence of SFA?

Contemporary science can be likened to a totalitarian regime that rules through doctrines that have proved highly successful in practical life. Dissident folk sentiments look very puny in comparison with the majesty and achievements of the scientific empire. But in the long run the ridiculed dissident ideas may actually turn out to be correct.

Parallelism and Recession of Magic in Estonian folk verse

Jaan Undusk

The article attempts to relate the earlier Estonian folk song in Kalevala metre with parallelism, or semantic repetition, with magic worldview and corresponding language usage, and the animlistic worldview. It is claimed that the parallelist structure of a folk song is ultimately related to the magico-animlistic worldview and the corresponding language usage.

Artist and Name

Virve Sarapik

The article discusses the relationship of the artist and the artist's name and the relationship between a work of art and its title. The main topics are art and verbal invasion, including naming and signing a work of art. Sarapik also analyses author's name as proper name, relations of name and biography, traces of name and pseudonyms, marking and indicating, and author metonymy, approaching the subject matter semiotically.

The author's name and the proper name move in different systems, and we cannot really say that in terms of the author-work relationship the system of proper name (or that of author in everyday human existence) would be primary. A name is a sign, which moves, seemingly unalterably, from one system to another and the borders between different semiotic systems tend to fade.

The exact definition of a work of art presupposes that both the author and the title are mentioned. If in speech the author's name signifies the work, we may call it author metonymy. The metonymic use of the author's name occurs most frequently in art.

The Inti Raymi Sun Festival - One of the Major Religious Festivities of the Inca in Pre-Columbian Peru

Tarmo Kulmar

Inti Raymi

The Sun festival Inti Raymi was one of the major events in Tahuantinsuyu, and all the high-ranking members of the country partook in the festivities. In the Inca religion Inti Raymi therefore involved a mass pilgrimage to the Sun Temple Cori cancha, in the capital, "the Navel of the World". The aim of the festival was to receive blessings from the Emperor, the living god, and also to sacrifice to the Sun God in order to ensure productivity for the coming year.

In terms of religious phenomenology the Inca had devised a hierarchy of sacrifice substitutions. They simultaneously performed primary level (cattle) and secondary level (sacred beverage, objects of precious metal) substitute sacrifices. It is highly probable that primitive sacrifice (human sacrifice) was performed very rarely. Communal sacrifice was widely practiced. This common feast also served political purposes, consolidating the centralized country.

It is equally important to bear in mind that with its ideological aims, organization and comprehensiveness, the festival of Inti Raymi serves as a classic example of a religious mass ceremony in a totalitarian empire.

The Image of Heaven and the Motifs of Creation of the Sun in Baltic Mythology

Nijole Laurinkiene

The present paper is devoted to the study of the creation of the Sun and to the aspects of setting it free, its `birth' or `rebirth'. These motifs are presented in the framework of the conception of heaven. An attempt is made to offer some ideas, which might serve as a stimulus in defining the perspective of the solution of some mythological problems.

Baltic traditions are compared with those of the Finno-Ugrian mythology. Though the Finno-Ugrians are not genetically related to the Balts, and their languages belong to different families, their cultures nevertheless share analogies, which could be accounted for by affinities of typological character or as a result of prolonged contacts between these two ethnic groups. The study of mythological archaisms in a wider area of dissemination has resulted in more accurate conclusions about the chronology, nature and semantics of the phenomena discussed.

The Baltic idea of heaven, which has to do with God the Father - the male deity of the highest status -, is believed to date back to the Indo-European culture. However, such a mythologeme (`Heaven as God') can be treated as rather universal and widespread not only in Indo-European culture, but among other archaic cultures as well. Traces of this viewpoint are present also in the Finno-Ugrian tradition.

In general, contacts between the Baltic culture and the Finno-Ugrian mythological traditions have not been subjected to any closer research yet, although the analysis of ages-long neighbourly relations would produce interesting results.

On the World View of the Estonian Language: Mind, Soul, and Spirit

Urmas Sutrop

Using linguistic tools we can reconstruct the ancient meanings of modern concepts and words and thereby learn something of the ancient worldview of our ancestors. This paper focuses on the terms meel `mind', hing `breath, soul', and vaim `pulsation, ghost, spirit', and on the history of these terms in Estonian and in other languages. Some Greek, Semitic, and Germanic soul-concepts and their changes are analysed.

We must expunge our terms from the meaning-elements borrowed from other languages. Only then can we reconstruct different layers of worldview. Without this, however, we might draw wrong conclusions from the synchronic language material.

The Estonian system of soul concepts has changed due to language contacts. Firstly, German pastors introduced the Christian dualistic soul concept of spirit and soul. A special (feminine) pulsation-soul vaim was made a more general (masculine breath-soul) spirit. The concept of the original breath-soul hing was restricted. As a result, the use of the term vaim increased in frequency. In the 20th century the use of the term hing becomes more and more frequent under the Russian influence. As a result, the use of other soul-terms and special life forces, for example süda `heart' is dramatically decreasing in Estonian. At the same time, meel is one of the most productive words in Estonian.

Bee as a Symbol in Slavonic Culture

Aleksandr Gura

Folk tradition explains each animal through an invariable and complete group of characteristic features, which correlates with a group of characteristic features inherent of a given character in specific local traditions. The cultural language of each tradition prefers some qualities, attributes, predicates, etc. of the animal to others, and attaches symbolic significance to these, while excluding others from the cultural frame and context. In this case one and the same animal can inspire widely different, often unassociated symbolic meanings. The article observes the mechanisms of symbolisation inherent to cultural language through a creature well known in popular zoology - the bee.

Bee is thought to be superior of other insects because of its divine heavenly nature. Of all other insects only ladybird beetle and silkworm have been attributed similar superiority. In etiological legends bees, as the creation of God, are opposed to bumblebees, hornets, wasps or flies created by the Devil.

The Slavonic people honour bee as a pure creature of God. The texts and apicultural traditions of the Slavonic people associate the bee also with the Mother of God. Folk tradition attributes the bees purity and sacredness, but also virginity and celibacy. Their chthonic qualities become evident in a motif of their originating from a cave of a mythical rock, etc.

The superiority of Christian thinking over paganism in these beliefs can be explained by the special role of apiculture in folk tradition in general. This autonomous and esoteric sphere of culture, practised only by men or professional apiculturists, became the preserver of the archaic layer of ancient traditions and beliefs, but was also susceptible to the influence of literature (often mediated by beekeepers as an educated class of village community). The spread of literature greatly contributed to the penetration of Christian elements in this sphere of tradition.

Motifs of divination in regilaul

Aado Lintrop

In the present paper the notion divination is used not only for making statements about someone's or something's future, but for obtaining any information by the means of or through supernatural sphere. Motif is a cultural category of classification for associating mentally hindered sections in sequenced actions, operations, situations and phenomena. The putative motifs of divination are observed in regilaul (folk song in Kalevala metre) in the religious context of North Eurasian peoples.

Village On the problem of informativeness in Udmurt song texts

Irina Nurieva

The poetic symbols and images in the texts of traditional Udmurt songs that have an active function within the system of contemporary calendar and family rites can provide us an important source of information. They allow us to recover the semantic aspects of ritual, define the network of relationships among their structural elements and, finally, observe specific features of traditional mentality.

A folklore text contains different levels of information depending on its multi-strata structure, where later superstrata have developed upon archaic bases. While the meaning of some patterns may lie close to the surface, the semantics of others may very often remain inaccessible for the modern singer and listener.

The article analyses songs without specific meaningful text, sung with meaningless, onomatopoetic words. The tradition of `textless' singing is wide-spread among the Northern Udmurts and Besermans and has a fixed place in the traditional genre terminology. This type of traditional Udmurt `textless' song also requires some special means of analysis, for example ethnolinguistic reconstruction, where an attempt is made to etymologize some of the words and word groups with the aim of restoring the lost meaning of these ancient ritual texts.

Through the Looking Glass: Greek in Ancient Hebrew Folk Literature

Galit Hasan-Rokem

A number of Hebrew and Aramaic riddles or enigmatic tales can really be understood only when juxtaposed with certain puns and word plays in another language, namely Greek. It is important to mention that Greek became the common language of the Middle East after the conquests of Alexander and the growing domination of Hellenistic culture in the wake of his rule, throughout the periods of the Seleucid and Ptolemaic dynasties in the area. Unlike philologically and historically oriented scholars, who tend to pin-point inter-cultural communication as a one-to-one relationship between this text and another, folk narrative study reveals a wider, admittedly less exact, scope of the same phenomenon. The author calls the phenomenon a narrative dialogue between cultures. The methodology includes pointing out inter-textual relationships based on the traditional concepts of tale type and motifs. The present example is, of a more close textual character, on the level of words.

Image as a Source of Narrative in Irish Storytelling

Daíthí Ó hÓgáin

At the most basic level of folk fancy and belief, it is clear that an image which impresses itself on the mind of an individual or group of individuals has the potential to be given significance in the surrounding culture. In the same way, actual narratives owe much to the influence of striking images. Imagery plays an important and often basic role in the actual spread of folk narratives, most obviously in the case of the genre which we refer to as the migratory legend.

Ireland has the oldest literature of Europe, apart from Greek and Latin, and so the researcher into Irish lore has sources at his disposal which range widely on the historical as well as the geographical plain. The article discusses the relationship between the brightness of the otherworld, which is so often met with in Irish sources, and the darkness of the nocturnal world of the dead. The duality in ancient Celtic belief concerning the worlds of the living and the dead gave rise to narratives concerning the divine personages Fionn (meaning `white') and Donn (meaning `black'). Well into the 20th century, stories were told in Irish folklore of great battles fought between two otherworld troops - the fairies of the southern province of Munster under the leadership of Donn Firinne, and the fairies of the western province of Connacht under the leadership of Fionnbharra. In more modern folklore, the two figures continue their periodic contests.

The Princess and the Pea: Tradition and Interpretation

Christine Shojaei Kawan

The Princess and the Pea is one of the best-known tales in the world and was among the earliest tales by Hans Christian Andersen. In German terms, it is a Märchen, but actually it can be called neither a folktale nor a fairy tale. It was published in 1835 together with three other tales. H. C. Andersen claims to have remembered it from childhood, but no variants or similar tales have been found in Danish folk tradition. It has also been suggested that Andersen's tale is of Eastern origin but this cannot be entirely true, because no such Eastern tale is known to exist. The Princess and the Pea is based on three separate motifs intertwined together: the motif of hypersensitivity; the motif of extraordinary discernment; and the bride test motif. The first two are believed to be of Eastern origin and quite ancient.

Social Reactions to the Return of Wolves in France: a tentative Analysis in Taking `Rumours' seriously

Véronique Campion-Vincent

Since the beginning of the 1990's, the return of wolves in France has caused a passionate controversy, pitting the militant environmentalists, who see in their reappearance the crowning of the restoration of primeval nature maimed by the excesses of human exploitation, and the mountain sheep-farmers, for whom their return points to a conspiracy aimed at evicting them from the territories they have developed through sheep-farming. If one wants to understand these debates, it is necessary to go beyond the slogans and what has been taken for granted. Instead one needs to pay attention to the generally despised social discourse of rumours.

This paper will describe how the situation has evolved from the spring of 1993, when first announcement of the "official" return of wolves in France appeared until the spring of 2000, when the official Wolf Plan, a plan to regulate the species according to the geographical areas where it appears, was adopted.

The author describes the opposition between sheep-farmers and their political representatives from the mountain areas, the associations of ecologists and friends of the wolves, various administrations.

Another issue discussed in the paper is the generally ignored existence of uncontrolled wolf-raising in France, leading up to their release (either voluntary or accidental). This fact is also linked to the evolution of the image of wolf. From the most rejected of species to the emblem of a reconstructed natural wilderness, the wolf remains an "animal of the utmost", polarizing passions.

An analysis of rumours about wild animals and their truth value is presented. These rumours, involving themes of animal-release, exist all over the world and one of their main manifestations is the variously attested ubiquity of Mystery Cats.

The article concludes with reflections on the future of the wild wolf in France.

News, overviews   

In memoriam: Aino Laagus 22.11.1944-17.02.2004

Aino Laagus, the teacher and mediator of the Estonian language and culture, departed at the age of 59 in Helsinki, Finland. After graduating from the Estonian Philology Department at the University of Tartu and the following doctoral studies, she worked at the Department of Logic and Psychology, and after that at the Estonian Language Chair at the university. During 1983-1986 she worked as the lecturer of the Estonian language at the University of Tampere, during 1993-1999 at the Lund University and during 2000-2004 at the University of Helsinki. She maintained close ties with the University of Tartu, where she was a lecturer of folklore studies and the Estonian language. Aino Laagus studied forest fairy lore in the Estonian tradition, which led to defending a dissertation on "The Structure and Semantics of Forest Fairies in Estonian Texts". In addition, she has published academic articles and translations.

Academic circles in Estonia will remember Aino Laagus as someone who crossed borders, whose home was in Tartu - but home was often too far away. She was compelled to cross not only language boarders, but also cultural borders. This is, no doubt, the actual task of every cultural ambassador. Even her language classes abroad became insightful courses into the Estonian culture. Rutt Hinrikus and Tiiu Jaago honour the memory of the dear colleague.

Rolled to Russia Rolled to Russia: Day of the Estonians in Siberia and the Volga Region

On November 22, 2003, the event dedicated to communicating information on the tradition and collection of folklore of the Estonians who have returned from Russia, was held in the Estonian Literary Museum. The main organiser of the event, Anu Korb, mediates her expectations and experiences at the event to the readers of Mäetagused journal.

470 hours of audio recordings and 100 hours of video recordings, several thousands of photographs and thousands of manuscript pages and web pages on the subject have been stored in the archives. The material was displayed and recorded video materials were shown to the public. Sometimes the only way to study the life of the Estonians in the East is through the means of recorded material, since the Estonian settlements in Russia have either become extinct or will be so shortly. Amateur studies by people from these regions are therefore particularly valuable. Artur Kergand, a retired schoolteacher, who was born in the Estono-Semenovka village in Siberia and is currently living in Otepää, South Estonia, is one of such people. Overview by Anu Korb.

Conference on Phraseology at the Estonian Literary Museum

On November 25, 2003, the research group of paremiology of the Folklore Department of the Estonian Literary Museum held the conference to celebrate the 60th birthday of Asta Õim, member of the research group and author of many dictionaries. Conference abstracts in Estonian and English are available on the web site http://www.folklore.ee/pubte/teesid/sisu.htm. Overview of the discussed topics by Anneli Baran and Piret Voolaid.

Passer mortus est...

Folklorist Kristi Salve introduces Tõnno Jonuks' translation of the Ynglingasaga, one of the major works in the Scandinavian Saga literature, and also known as the Swedish Saga, into the Estonian language and reflects on the status of Saga literature in modern cultural context.

Edjen Khan

Folk tale Edjen Khan (AT 951B) from the four-volume anthology by Grigori Potanin, Î÷åðêè ñåâåðî-çàïàäíîé Ìîíãîëèè (Ðåçóëüòàòû ïóòåøåñòâèÿ, èñïîëíåííîãî â 1879 ãîäó ïî ïîðó÷åíèþ Èìïåðàòîðñêîãî Ðóññêîãî Ãåîãðàôè÷åñêîãî Îáùåñòâà IV: Ìàòåðèàëû ýòíîãðàôè÷åñêèå) , published and edited by V. Kirschbaum Printshop in 1883. Translation into Estonian and comments by Kristi Salve.