Mäetagused vol. 54


Researchers-archivists and Siberian Correspondent Rosalie Ottesson: A Dialogue from the Years 1969–1976

Anu Korb

Key words: correspondent, dialogue, researcher, Siberia

The author discusses the contributions of Rosalie Ottesson, a Siberian correspondent of the Estonian Folklore Archives, proceeding from the time of collecting and the practices of collecting work supervision at the time.

R. Ottesson came from a traditional village community. As an active woman she held several positions during her working life: she was a schoolteacher, a clerk in the village soviet, worked in the District Committee of the Communist Party, etc. Rosalie Ottesson started making contributions to the archives after her retirement, having met Igor Tõnurist, who visited the Estonian settlements in the Minusinsky District of Krasnoyarsk Krai.

The article discusses Ottesson’s recordings proceeding from the impacts of the Soviet period – its social and political circumstances – on collecting. The collected material makes it possible to observe what it was that Ottesson herself considered worth preserving, and also to notice how her personal background (origin, positions) influenced the lore. In addition, the letters sent to the correspondent from the museum make it possible to analyse the collecting strategies of the Department of Folkloristics at the time, as well as the researchers’ approaches inspired by their research interests.

To the roots and back. The trips of remigrated Siberian Estonians to their home village

Aivar Jürgenson, Liivo Niglas

Key words: Estonian diaspora, ethnographic film, pilgrimage, remigration, Siberia

Ethnologists have been studying how people visit their former homelands mainly because of the semantic importance of the notions home, homelessness, nostalgia, roots and identity.

Over the years, hundreds of people have moved to Estonia from Upper Suetuk, the village that was established by Estonian immigrants in southern Siberia in the 1850s. The former villagers visit Upper Suetuk frequently because the village identity and villagers’ solidarity have traditionally been strong in Siberia. The highlights of these visits are celebrations of St. John’s Day, on July 6 and 7, when the anniversary of the village is also celebrated.

The aim of this article is to analyse a two-week trip to Upper Suetuk in summer 2010 by a group of people originating from the village. The authors present the trip to the former home village as a pilgrimage and analyse it by applying Victor Turner’s model of rite of passage. While collecting data for the research, the authors relied substantially on video camera as a methodological tool, in addition to participant observation and interviewing.

The main focus of the analyses lies on the liminal phase of the trip, when the individuals find themselves withdrawn from normal modes of social action. The authors concentrate on the group’s behaviour (communitas) in the state of anti-structure, as well as on emotional and sensory aspects of this liminal phase of the trip. One of the most important notions here is the sense of freedom: many members of the group experienced it during the trip in Siberia, knowing that it cannot be transported back home. The authors show how the codes of language and behaviour keep changing during the trip; what significance the landscapes, buildings, special places and objects have for the people visiting the village after years of absence; how memories and sensory perception contribute to the emotional and embodied experience of the visitors.

The trip to the former home village on St. John’s Day is a good indicator of the interaction between the present and former villagers and it can be useful for analysing the identity of both groups. The reason why people go for a pilgrimage – be it the real one or the quasi-pilgrimage as in this case – is to gain blessing, health, harmony and freedom. This paper is an attempt to demonstrate that pilgrimage-like trips can be undertaken also with an aim to go back to the roots or to the place of origin, in order to reinforce one’s identity. By visiting the former homeland, „the pilgrims” blend their two separate and somewhat partial identities into a single, coherent one.

Druže Tito, Sveti Rilski. Insights into Contemporary Pilgrimage Tradition

Mare Kõiva, Andres Kuperjanov

Key words: pilgrimage, Orthodox religion, Catholicism, abbey, chapel, historical figures

Catholic abbeys destroyed during the 16th century reformation, as well as Orthodox abbeys abandoned in the 20th century, have recently become the centre of restoration movement in Estonia. Various institutions and people have contributed to the reviving of catholic-style pilgrimages, which are both organised institutionally and undertaken privately, sometimes differing from a sightseeing tour mainly in name. As the Estonian pilgrimage culture is re-arising, it is characterised by its oecumenical nature. In Estonia, the tradition of pilgrimages has been historically continuous only to the Orthodox abbeys of Kuremäe and Petseri (Pechory). Everything else is religion tourism. Both private and organised treks involve a geographically wide scope outside Estonia.

The following pilgrimage destinations are compared: a) the Svete Gore sacral complex in Slovenia – a reanimated religious Catholic centre, b) key Orthodox centres in Bulgaria: the abbey and chapel of Rila Ivan, carrier of national identity, symbolic of religious continuity throughout the Middle Ages and modern times, and ancient cultural and religious sites of Momchilovtsi village chapels. The latter with its sacral architecture represent an expression of personal perception of religion, used as a building ground for tourism, specifically a village environment living off on religion tourism. The newest layer, the so-called secular pilgrimage sites, in which celebrations include many traits of festivals, is found in Kumrovec, where a monument was erected at the birthplace of Josip Broz Tito, the former president of Yugoslavia.

The revival of pilgrimages shares many common traits in post-socialist countries. Of particular interest is the integration of existing and created natural and other sacred sites in the culture of new spiritual and religious movements.

The Image of Estonians in the 18th and 19th century travel writing (up to the 1850s)

Marge Rennit

Key words: travel writing, Estonians, image, 18th century, 19th century

Travel accounts were a popular kind of literature among European readers. They had an entertaining, educating and practical function. Travelogues created images for the described countries and nations and, by circulating and translating them, ensured geographically wide spread and persistence in time.

The article is aimed at analysing Estonians’ image in the travelogues published in Europe in the 18th and the first half of the 19th centuries. The majority of European travelogues including descriptions of the Baltic provinces of that period were published as a result of expeditions to Russia, mainly St. Petersburg. The Baltic provinces were hardly ever the autonomous destination of travels. Fourty-two travelogues by European authors including descriptions of Estonian territories were considered. Twenty of these issues completely missed descriptions of indigenous Estonian people; so only twenty-two travelogues were taken under investigation. Imagological method was used to analyse Estonians’ image in these literary works.

The descriptions of Estonians dating from the 18th and the first half of the 19th centuries bear the imprint of the Enlightenment era.

The image of Estonians introduces them as people with limited mental abilities, living in poor conditions due to long-lasting oppression, and prone to vices such as laziness and excessive drinking. By their appearance, Estonians were described as ugly or even savage. Often, they were depicted as slaves who were treated like animals, with no personal willpower. As positive traits, the nation’s poetic mind, beautiful language and noble character originating from the ancient ‘golden’ era have been mentioned.

The abolishing of serfdom in Estonia in 1816 and in Livonia in 1819 brought about an essential positive change in Estonians’ image. Similar to earlier times, the travelogues of the second quarter of the 19th century maintained descriptions of indigenous people’s wretched living conditions and sympathetic attitude towards peasants; yet, these were accompanied by discussions about how sensible it was to abolish serfdom, as well as its results and perspectives. Formally, Estonians had been set free; yet, in reality they were not able, willing or capable of realising their freedom. The change was clearly noticeable as compared to the image of a slave prevailing in the 18th century: instead of former hopelessness, positive development became possible.

Three versions of one folk tune

Guldžahon Jussufi

Key words: psalter, polka, folk music, folk musician, composer

Kandle-Juss, a simple, almost illiterate folk musician, was important for his own generation. With the disappearance of these people, Juss with his music also disappeared from the scene. Eduard Tubin is a worldwide known composer. His Kandle polka (zither polka) stands on its own when compared to his widely acknowledged piano works. Leida Idla has not considered herself as a composer, nor has anyone else. Her short pieces have purposeful characteristics and are only known by a small circle of enthusiasts of Ernst Idla’s methods. When comparing the three versions of polka tune, it can be seen that all of them – Eduard Tubin’s Kandle polka, Leida Idla’s Ringliikumine (circle move), and Kandle-Juss’s Vana polka Saaremaalt (old polka from Saaremaa) – are each a shining example of their genre.

It might be questionable if we should compare a folk musician with a skilful improviser, and even more so with a famous composer. Kandle-Juss was not skilled enough to do much else than create a harmonic accompaniment to a melody. On the other hand, we have to admit that both Leida Idla and Eduard Tubin did exactly the same with that very same piece. They all had a specific purpose: one used the kannel (zither), the others – the piano, to enrich the melody. Kandle-Juss’s natural talent is in no way inferior as compared to that of professionals.

The Tummal Inscription. Some Remarks Concerning Ancient Sumerian Kings and Their Kingship Ideology

Vladimir Sazonov

Key words: Sumer, kings, temple of Tummal, Enlil, Ninlil, royal ideology, Sumerian religion, sanctuary, propaganda, history

The current short but very important Sumerian literary text, which was written in the Sumerian language at the end of the reign of Ur III (2112–2004 BCE) or at the beginning of the Isin-Larsa epoch (ca 21st or 20th century BCE), consists of only 33 lines.

The temple of Tummal is dedicated to the goddess Ninlil, spouse of the god Enlil, who was the main god of Mesopotamia, the protector of kingship, and the king of all deities. Tummal was a very significant sanctuary for Sumerians and played an important role not only in religion, but also in royal ideology. The texts of Tummal Inscription known as “The History of Tummal” mention the rulers of Sumer, who had done building and renovating works in this temple complex.

Yet, the kings-builders are not listed chronologically and these texts are quite tendentious and propagandistic, as some important kings are not even mentioned because of ideological reasons; for example, Akkadian kings (2334–2154 BCE) or rulers of Lagash.

The reason why Akkadian kings were not mentioned as builders in Tummal, might probably be that some Akkadian kings like Naram-Su´en became prototypes of evil and cursed kings. They were believed to rebel against divine norms and rules and were later cursed and punished by all the great gods of Sumer and Akkad. The kings of Lagash were not mentioned for a different reason: Gudea, who belonged to the 2nd dynasty of Lagash, had probably very good relations with Gutian tribes, who destroyed the Akkadian Empire in ca 2200–2154 BCE, conquered Akkad and Sumer and controlled these territories for 60–70 years. Sumerians and Akkadians hated Gutians and after Sumer and Akkad became free from the Gutian invaders, kings of the 3rd dynasty of Ur decided that for political and ideological reasons the kings of Lagash would not be mentioned at all.

Esoteric Lore in Kirna Manor and Magical Mentality

Kristel Kivari

Key words: embodiment, esotericism, Kirna manor, magic, new spirituality

The article introduces the ideas that are delivered at Kirna manor, which operates as an esoteric healing centre. The teachings of healer Helle Anniko include various mystical visions that are reasoned as a result of original location due to the energies of the earth and cosmos. Her teachings follow the overall pattern of esoteric ideas as described by Antoine Faivre. She is accompanied by visionary agents, such as medieval monks and extraterrestrials, who help and support her in the work of healing and teaching. The second part of the article introduces the narratives of her patients who associate their recovery with the spiritual transformation and mystical experiences, which they have undergone under Helle’s supervision. In these reflections, which touch the borders of both rational and mystical thinking, the magical consciousness could be recognised, which, according to Susan Greenwood and Graham Harvey, forms the conversion and transformation into a new spiritual understanding of the self and the environment. The process of healing involves sitting and meditating on special benches, which are located at the channels of cosmic and terrestrial energies. Bodily impulses and gained experiences form an access to the interpretation lore, which is framed by the dynamical viewpoints of medical doctors and Helle. The article is based on the fieldwork material and interviews conducted by the author.

News, overviews   

President’s folklore award and the year 2012 at the Estonian Folklore Archives

The overview by Astrid Tuisk is available in English in Vol. 54 in Folklore: Electronic Journal of Folklore, at http://www.folklore.ee/folklore/vol54/news.pdf.

The seven-year conference series about holy places had a worthy ending in St. Petersburg

Tõnno Jonuks presents an overview of the seven-year conference series “Holy Places around the Baltic Sea”.

Jyväskylä seminar on popular religion, witchcraft and magic

On June 11 and 12, 2013, the 11th annual Gustav Vasa seminar, dedicated to popular religion, witchcraft and magic, took place at Jyväskylä University. An overview is given by Reet Hiiemäe.

International symposium “Verbal Charms on Paper and in Practice”

Andrey Toporkov provides an overview of the 16th congress of the International Society for Folk Narrative Research (ISFNR) in Vilnius, on June 25–30, 2013, and the international symposium of the ISFNR working group, Committee on Charms, Charmers and Charming, under the heading Verbal Charms on Paper and in Practice.


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

The Power of the Mask

Editor Arūnas Vaicekauskas. The Power of the Mask. The Ritual Year 5. Kaunas: Vytautas Magnus University 2013. 150 pp.

The reviewer of the book is Mare Kõiva.

Book about ancient Greece

Michael K. Kellogg. The Greek Search for Wisdom. New York: Prometheus Books. 2012. 341 pp.

The review is provided by Neeme Näripä.