Mäetagused vol. 53


I tag, therefore I am: A paremic glance at graffiti in Tartu

Piret Voolaid

Key words: anti-proverbs, graffiti, Loesje posters, paremiology, proverbs, proverb parodies, street art, wellerisms

The article observes the paremic (proverbial-phraseological) element in public space in Tartu, the second largest city in Estonia. The author concentrates on dynamic spaces which are freely accessible to all, without any limitations (incl. important elements of urban space, such as shopping centres, cultural and leisure time centres, stations), and involve the values, symbols and signs of urban life.

The aim of the writing is to analyse the nature, proportions and meanings of the paremic matter in the following studied sources: street graffiti, i.e., the (anonymous) drawings, scribblings and writings (200 texts); specific poster texts generated by the Tartu group of the international Loesje movement, which have been glued on the walls of buildings, electrical switchboards, lamp posts, etc. in Tartu since 2004 (the poster collection is available in Estonian, English and Russian at http://www.loesje.ee, and includes 515 texts).

The primary source for the current article comprises graffiti photographed by the author in Tartu since the beginning of 2011. The texts have been mainly recorded within the town centre; however, Karlova and Tähtvere districts also demonstrate a conspicuous amount of paremic graffiti.

The analysis of multi-modal texts focuses on the proportion of the traditional and improvisational, local and global in the paremia. The aim of the article is to explain what kind of social status, mentality and expressiveness is contained in the texts of this specific cultural phenomenon, and what are the identities, platforms, ideas, and the social reality (concrete events) that these utterances are helping to reflect. The analysis of paremic graffiti texts as social communication applies context-centred methods which give consideration to the social context (i.e., who creates them for whom, where, when, for what reason, what is the receiver’s cultural potential to interpret the graffiti text), and also dwell upon the connection that graffiti has with other domains and other forms of art. The paremic text in graffiti often involves and supports the elements of pop-culture and helps to fulfil the human, philosophical, socio-political, self-expressive and sometimes very aggressive and protest-minded aspirations of the author of a particular graffiti text. Graffiti as a multi-modal written cultural form is open, flexible and adaptable to the surrounding reality.

The paremic material is indeed conspicuous in the street art of Tartu, partly due to the fact that among graffiti artists there are many conscious, mission-oriented university and art school students whose actions are inherently carefully premeditated.

The graffiti texts in Tartu make references to societal and cultural phenomena, and the memorable aphoristic form intrinsic to paremia, the poetic way of expression – harmony, rhymes – help, in some cases, to better convey the idea of graffiti.

Regulating the reality? Proverbs in Polish graffiti

Grzegorz Szpila

Key words: anti-proverbs, graffiti, pragmatics, mural inscription, proverbs

The paper investigates proverbial elements in Polish mural inscriptions. The main aim of the paper is to consider paremic mural inscriptions with an eye to determining if proverbs are used in Polish graffiti only as content-free play on traditional folk wisdom. The starting point in this analysis is the assumption that proverbs and non-paremic graffiti exhibit both similarities and differences and that most paremic uses in graffiti can be classified as anti-proverbial in character. Many studies suggest that the dominant feature of anti-proverbs is their mocking and humorous nature. The paper then tries to establish if mural anti-proverbs can be treated also as carriers of various sentiments which do not necessarily deny the traditional nuggets of wisdom, but are used to convey observations and truths based on them, which pertain to contemporary reality and regulate it in the same way as traditional paremias do.

Polish political humour

Marcin Poprawa

Key words: Polish political humour, intertextuality, winged words, political discourse, language of politics

This article is a survey of the most important communicative phenomena in the contemporary Polish political humour. It is also an attempt to describe political humour from a theoretical point of view and to compare it with political jokes from a period of the Polish People’s Republic (PRL). This article mainly describes amusing statements of contemporary politicians that were primarily used as the means of a political polemic, and secondarily after having been popularised by journalists (due to their comic content), achieved a status of “winged words” and appeared in various intertextual variants of the public and colloquial discourse.

Censorship in the People’s Republic of Poland

Gaweł Strządała

Key words: repressive and preventive censorship, underground press, opposition, USSR, communism

This article discusses the topic of censorship in the communist Poland. It presents a description of the functioning of the office of censorship (Main Office for the Control of Presentations and Public Performances; Główny Urzęd Kontroli Prasy, Publikacji i Widowisk) as well as other forms of informal influence on the authors working for public publishing houses. The underground publications suppressed during the Stalin era as well as difficulties encountered by Polish historians after 1956 will be the subject of the analysis. Furthermore, the article indicates the complementary role of the underground publishers after 1970. These publishing houses had a significant impact on the birth of political opposition in the communist Poland.

Triratna Buddhist Community: Case Study of a Buddhist Congregation in Estonia

Lauri Liiders

Key words: Buddhism, Estonia, religious practices, religious studies

This paper provides an overview of the first detailed case study of a Buddhist congregation in Estonia. The object of this study is Triratna Buddhist Community in Estonia, which was established here in 1989 and is part of international Triratna Buddhist Community (formerly known as Friends of the Western Buddhist Order) created in the United Kingdom in 1967. Mainly through oral history and participant observation methods as well as analysis of data presented by different written and oral sources the researcher strives to give an overview of various aspects of activity connected with one particular Buddhist group in Estonia, including its practice, ordination rituals, beliefs and membership characteristics. It also includes a detailed overview of the congregation’s history and its relationship with members of Triratna congregations in Finland and the UK. It presents Buddhism as an emerging new religion in Estonia through a case study of a Western Buddhist ecumenical congregation.

To save big nations, we have to study the cultures of small ones

Nikolay Kuznetsov

Interview with Komi folklorist and ethnographer Pavel Limerov on the occasion of his 55th birthday is conducted by Nikolay Kuznetsov.

News, overviews   

In memoriam

Artem Kozmin (March 15, 1976 – February 1, 2013)
On February 1, 2013, at the age of 36, Artem Kozmin, young Russian folklorist and anthropologist, researcher of the Centre of Folklore Typology and Semiotics at the Russian State University for the Humanities, died in Ulan-Bator.

Rüdiger Schott (December 10, 1927 – December 7, 2012)
At the end of 2012, Rüdiger Schott, renowned German ethnologist and narrative researcher, passed away.

Asta Niinemets 60

Piret Voolaid writes about Asta Niinemets, editor of the Department of Folkloristics at the Estonian Literary Museum, who celebrated her 60th birthday on March 18.

Migration in the context of rituals and practices

Irina Sedakova gives an overview of the Eighth Annual Conference of the SIEF (International Society for Ethnology and Folklore) Working Group “The Ritual Year”, which took place in Plovdiv (Bulgaria) on June 26–29, 2012.

Sixth international proverb colloquium in Tavira

Piret Voolaid brings to the reader an overview of the proverb colloquium organised by the International Association of Paremiology, which was held in Tavira, a small Portugese town, on November 4–11, 2012.

Two conferences dedicated on runo songs

Janika Oras and Mari Sarv recall two international conferences held in 2012, which focused on the older Balto-Finnic song tradition. In March, a conference was organised by the Runo Song Academy – the research institute established in Kuhmo, the historic Karelian gateway, in 2010. The second conference took place at the Estonian Literary Museum in Tartu in the autumn of the same year and was organised by the Estonian Folklore Archives.

Estonian Days under the Southern Cross in Australia

Iivi Zajedova speaks about the Estonian Days arranged in Sydney around Christmas 2012.

8th Folklorists’ Winter Conference

Inge Annom gives an overview of the conference held in Tallinn from February 28 to March 1, 2013.

Doctoral thesis on the aesthetic structure of Slovenian folklore short forms

Piret Voolaid introduces Saša Babič’s doctoral thesis, which the author defended at the Department of Slovenian Studies at the University of Ljubljana on December 18, 2012.

Doctoral thesis on the space semantics of local cases in the Komi language

Galina Nekrassova introduces Nikolay Kuznetsov’s doctoral thesis, which the author defended on December 27, 2012.


A brief summary of the events of Estonian folklorists from December 2012 to April 2013.

Art 15

Literary-publicistical, historic-culturological journal Art, dedicated to art and culture, celebrated its 15th anniversary of publication at the end of 2012.

Co-editor Pavel Limerov speaks about the journal.

On fairy tale genre on the example of Irish narrative tradition

Vito Carrassi. The Irish Fairy Tale. A Narrative Tradition from the Middle Ages to Yeats and Stephens. Translated by Kevin Wren. Plymouth: John Cabot University Press. 2012. 207 pp.

The book is reviewed by Kärri Toomeos-Orglaan.

Analysis of Khazar Khaganate

V. A. Shnirel’man. Khazarskii mif. Ideologiia politicheskogo radikalizma v Rossii i ee istoki. [Khazar myth. The ideology of political radicalism in Russia and its origins] Moscow: Mosty kul’tury & Ierusalim: Gesharim. 2012. 312 pp.

The reviewer of the book is Aimar Ventsel.