THE BALTIC STATES
[ESTONIA: courtesy of the The World Factbook -- the link includes statistics on everything you'd want to know about Estonia except her lore, culture, and soul]
[From the '98-99 period when Estonia was part of the Baltic page]: Folklore is an utterly engrossing website, offering awesome windows into a world about which most of us know nothing. This electronic scholarly journal is published twice a year by the Institute of the Estonian Language, Estonian Folklore Archives. The issues start with June 1996. They cover such subjects as oral folklore, music, rainbows, funerals, festivals, saints, Estonian "witch doctors," and Siberian shamans (I'm double-listing the Siberian, circumpolar sites under my Indigenous section). I took a quick look through the index (10/00) and have included links to a few of the papers to which I personally was drawn -- but there's much more.http://www.ciesin.ee/ESTCG/CULTURE/
From Estonia Country Guide comes "Estonian Folk Culture," a good essay on beliefs, customs, runic folksongs, and much more:http://haldjas.folklore.ee/folklore/vol5/ylorist1.htm...The oldest Estonian religious beliefs probably reach back to the Stone Age. These included the belief that the spirit of a witch could leave the body and gain wisdom from the place of a dead (shamanism); and the image of a tribal ancestor-animal (totemism). The cosmogonic myths about the creation of the world from the egg of a miraculous bird, and the creation of the Milky Way from a giant tree have been preserved in folklore, and are just as old....
From Folklore's volume 5 comes "The Significance of Baptism in Estonian Folk Belief" by Ülo Valk:...Though the ritual itself is short, lasting only a few minutes, it is of cardinal importance in shaping the fate of the child. The following is a short survey of how baptism has been interpreted in Estonian folk belief. Since baptism is closely connected with other issues such as choosing the name, specific features of the archaic rite of passage, relations between Christian and heathen features in Estonian folk belief, etc., these problems have also been dealt with. The article is to a great extent based on the collections of the Estonian Folklore Archives. Most of the beliefs analysed here were recorded between 1888 and 1940....The lengthy, intriguing paper looks extensively at naming practices, child washing and whisking, child rearing, teething, saunas, exorcism, the father's right to kill a newborn, disposal of baptismal waters, and much more.
...In several places the child was given a name only after it had been determined by divination, which of the relatives had taken rebirth (Karjalainen 1918: 39; 45-46). The idea that giving a child the name of an ancestor means reincarnation was also known among the Saami (Vilkuna 1959: 53)....
St. George and a beautifully winged, crowned dragon
(composed of multiple, coiling cell-clusters, like life itself)
Courtesy of Sunbirds
From Folklore's first issue comes an excellent paper on St. George's Day (23 April): "Some Possible Origins of St. George's Day Customs and Beliefs" by Mall Hiiemäe. I found it especially interesting because I have long been pro-dragon and anti-George. This paper, however, suggests that George hides a variant Green Man aspect and secretly works both for and against snake ("dragon") magic, a most appealing idea to me:http://www.mfa.ee/eng/comesee/Of all tradition accounts relating to spring days in the Estonian popular calendar nearly one third pertain to St. George's Day (jüripäev) that, no doubt, refers to a very special position of the day....There is much more data on magical lore, unusually rich and detailed. What fascinates me here is that the pre-vegetation "poisonous earth" prior to the appearance of spring seems to be symbolic of the serpent slain (tamed?) by George, the shamanic-farmer of pre-Christian times. This is the first time I have come across such a concept in European lore, although it connects eerily well to links on my Landscape Lore page concerning the dragon and leylines as manifestations of earth's own energy fields.
...It is hard to believe that the commemoration day of a saint - even if associated with the dragon-killing legend and with the destruction of heathen evil - could ever have attracted such a host of folk customs if the martyrdom had not happened in spring, around certain essential phenological [e.g., snow-melting] changes.
Perhaps the richness of the tradition accumulated on St. George's Day should rather be viewed in the light of the fact that the Greek form Georgius means a ploughman, a cultivator of land. And when trying to divine the ancient predecessor of the holiday, one should better consider such tradition that is connected with spring-time vegetation as well as the concentration of special customs on certain pre-Christian dates to mark the awakening of nature and the arrival of spring....
...Another important belief lying at the base of St. George's Day's customs concerns the earth being poisonous until vegetation has started. Evidently this belief also originates in a pre-Christian imagery connected with nature's awakening. An example from South-East Estonia: Before St. George's Day one must not sit on the ground as the earth has not been able to breathe yet and so it may cause diseases....
...Once again one should note the fixed time: the magic powers are attributed to a snake killed before St. George's Day, even if used later (in a dried form, or made into powder, ashes, or infusion in oil or spirits). So this rich and living tradition, acquiring ever new nuances, seems to be supported by a much older belief: the adder gets its special powers from the unbreathed and therefore still poisonous spring soil, cf. the following saying from the parish of Põlva: Before St. George's Day the snake is said to be a stronger medicine than after it....
By Estonian artist, Tarmo Roosimolder
This is "Estonia's Folk Traditions," a listing of eight popular celebrations and festivals: February 24, Independence Day; April 23, Jüripäev (St George's Day -- see above for Folklore paper on this feast); June 23, Võidupüha (Victory Day); June 24, Jaanipäev (St John's Day); November 2, Souls' Visiting Day; November 10, Mardipäev (St. Martin's Day); November 25, Kadripäev (St. Catherine's Day); and Christmas and Christmas Customs. Each date's page offers lore, history, and local customs.http://haldjas.folklore.ee/folklore/vol11/oak.htm
From volume 11 of Folklore comes this fascinating, lengthy, meticulously researched essay "The Great Oak, the Weaving Maidens and the Red Boat, Not to Mention a Lost Brush" by Aado Lintrop. It looks at lovely Estonian songs about a World Tree, weaving maidens who sweep the seas with brooms made of gold and silver, a cosmic sun/moon marriage, a red boat with celestial sailors, stars, and winter and summer solstices:http://haldjas.folklore.ee/folklore/vol3/litlemos.htm...The Pleiades cluster located at the top of the tree or pillar supporting the starry sky is the most popular constellation in Estonian folk astronomy. Time was determined by them, weather conditions were predicted on their basis and in particular what the coming spring and summer would be like and whether there would be a good or bad crop that year. Distinct from the tree found in the 'Great Oak' song, the tree or pillar in this chain-song is a typical world tree. According to the beliefs of many peoples, the sources of celestial lights were found living or resting on or attached to the branches of this tree. This song chain quite clearly suggests that in the 'weaving maidens' we are dealing with celestial maidens. They have been variously associated with the Moirai of classical mythology or with the Old Scandinavian Norns (cf. Sarmela 1995: 212). A popular chain song from Ingria suggests that they may have been involved with human fate....
[From the '98-99 period when Estonia was part of the Baltic page]: This paper from vol. 3 of Folklore (see above) is called "Little Mos' Woman" and is about an Estonian fairytale concerning a brother and sister -- and their relationship with a ghostly handless man. Several variants are considered by the author, Aado Lintrop (who also wrote the above paper), in this eerie, most intriguing tale.http://haldjas.folklore.ee/Folklore/vol7/metsikx.htm
Also from Folklore, vol. 7, is "Clothed Straw Puppets in Estonian Folk Calendar Tradition: a Shift from Cult to Joke?" by Ergo-Hart Västrik. It is a fascinating, very detailed, scholarly paper looking at all aspects of the phenomenon:http://haldjas.folklore.ee/rli/...The common feature was the removal and exorcism of something unpleasant by the transportation of a man-shaped puppet to alien territory....Links to related photos and maps are at the bottom along with an extensive bibliography.
This handsome page, also from Folklore, is "Estonian Folklore," an excellent resource with a search engine.
Taara, the chief Estonian Deity
"...Taara's eyes watch over everything, he is delighted and he is troubled for his people...."
Copyright © 2000 Eesti Rahva Muuseum [permission pending]
From the Estonian National Museum comes this brief on-line exhibit of Latvian deities. The art is more playful and full of mischief than what we might usually call "sacred art." The myths, although brief, are beautifully told. The combination is marvelous.http://www.erm.ee/naitus/evestus/samaan_eng.html
Again from the Estonian National Museum is this one page exhibit called "Estonian Gods." The art is tongue-in-cheek; the text is lovely. (It's also listed on the above link, but off to one side instead of with the three other main links, so I'm listing the direct link in case you miss it.)http://haldjas.folklore.ee/rl/inste/ars/afs.htm
This is a brief history of Estonia's Academic Folklore Society founded in late 1925 (at a time when there was little interest in folklore); the page includes a survey of a few topics presented in papers from 1925 onwards; the range is impressive -- one can only wish that at least some of these were available online.http://haldjas.folklore.ee/BIF/estfield.htm
This is a page of quite intriguing fieldwork done by students in the 1990's in Estonia and Siberia. Unfortunately, the data is tantilizingly brief. I would suspect, however, that if one were totally gripped by a topic, it would still be possible to contact the researchers through the page's e-mail address.http://haldjas.folklore.ee/BIF/estconf.htm
This is a brief page on two Estonian folklore conferences in 1995: the Conference of Young Folklorists, and the 4th Seminar on Folk Belief. Again, the range is impressive and one wishes for more detailed content.http://haldjas.folklore.ee/rli/uurti/index.html
For serious scholars only, these are e-mail addresses for the professional folklorists at the Estonian Folklore Archives of the Estonian Literature Museum (EFA).
Opening page of Estonia's National Epic
"A Brief History of the Estonian Book" is fascinating. This series of linked essays by Mare Lott and Aile Möldre looks at books, writers, political tragedy, and much more.http://www.ciesin.ee/ESTCG/CULTURE/Literature.html
From Estonia Country Guide comes a briefer but useful overview of the history of Estonian literature, including Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald's Kalevipoeg. (Note: the Kalevipoeg link will take you to the above illustration but the link to further text is broken. See below for a replacement....)http://www.ibs.ee/ibs/culture/estonian%5Fliterature/national_epic2.html
The Kalevipoeg is to Estonia what the Kalevala is to Finland -- a great national epic composed in the 19th century from much more ancient material:http://muhu.cs.helsinki.fi/By_Subject/Language/Kalevipoeg.elist...Ancient sagas about the mysterious giant, named Kalevipoeg, were widely spread all over the Estonian area....This page takes a careful look at many aspects connected to this work. Unfortunately, there are very few excerpts from the actual epic.
..."The Kalevipoeg" reflects the ancient world-view of the Estonians. The animistic folk belief personates every facet of the surrounding. Natural and supernatural are inseparably connected in the epics: all supernatural forces have relationship with men, the men themselves possess magic power, their words can hurt and heal, they are able to speak the language of birds and animals....
These translated versions of excerpts from the Kalevipoeg are from an e-list. I wish they were more extensive but this is the best I've been able to find. If a full-text version of the epic is online, it isn't yet available in English.http://www.ibs.ee/ibs/culture/estonian%5Fliterature/
This is an excellent scholarly series of linked essays on Estonian literature
by Loone Ots. The range covers early material all the way through the most recent literature.
[see main link directly below]
Copyright © 2000 Eesti Rahva Muuseum
(Note: if you go to the above link & find the tiny image, it's clickable -- try it -- it's stunning)
This is "Sign as Symbol," an exhibit from the Estonian National Museum on the role of symbols in Estonian art. There is hypertext taking you to fascinating data on spirals (see above image), circles, rectangles, pentagrams, swastikas (don't miss this one!), and other such patterns. (Note: this link is double-listed on my COMMON THEMES > Symbols, Signs, & Runes page.)http://www.ciesin.ee/ESTCG/CULTURE/Art.html
From Estonia Country Guide comes a survey of Estonia's artists and art history. Of tragic recent history, for example:http://www.ee/www/Culture_and_Society/Art/welcome.html...Artistic development ceased with WW II and the occupation of Estonia by the USSR. Many artists were killed - and many fled the country (Erik Haamer, Endel Koks, Karin Luts, ete.). Many of those who remained were prevented from working in the artistic sphere....Following the 1960's, art has emerged anew. Two artists especially caught my eye:...Viive Tolli and Kaljo Põllu have been inspired by ancient folklore....Since the page offers no links to any of the art, I did a search of Baltic websites, hoping to find the work of these two artists; unfortunately, I found nothing. (If anyone knows of any links, I'd appreciate having them!)
From Estonia-Wide Web comes a page of links to Estonia's art world. They're only minimally annotated and I had no time to explore any of them, but the page looks like a great browsing site.....especially the 53 sites belonging to Estonian artists (one of my favorite things, when I have time, is to explore artists' sites <smile>).http://www.erm.ee/naitus/punavalge/i_index.html
From the Estonian National Museum comes "Red and White," a great essay by Mare Piho, Ph.D. on the Setu people (also see below for another link on the Setu) -- their history, lore, customs, national costume, silver ornaments, textiles, and much more. Piho's special focus is on the role of the colors red and white in Setu art and culture; she creates an intricate weave of scholarship and insight. There are many clickable photos (see below for a detail from one such photo).
Detail from the Estonian National Museum -- see above for direct link.
Copyright © 2000 Eesti Rahva Muuseum
This is a tantalizingly brief page on Setu folk music customs:http://haldjas.folklore.ee/rli/usti/rmusai.htm...Setuland today, divided into two parts, lies in the southeastern corner of Estonia, and across the border in Russia. Setus speak a regional Estonian dialect and maintain Russian Orthodox religious practices that tend to isolate them from mainstream Estonia, which is predominantly Lutheran. This cultural isolation is perhaps the reason that Setu ancient ways of life have survived centuries of change. Setu songs, sung mainly by women, are the most authentic folk tradition in Estonia today. Still handed down from mother to daughter, they are part of the runic song tradition of the Baltic and Finnish peoples. The songs speak of ancient magic rituals....
For specialists only, this page looks at what's happening in Estonian ethnomusicology; there's a good multi-lingual bibliography at the end.http://haldjas.folklore.ee/Folklore/vol6/ruutel.htm
Also primarily for specialists is "Estonian Folk Music Layers in the Context of Ethnic Relations" by Ingrid Rüütel.
LANGUAGE, HISTORY, PEOPLE,
& GENERAL INFORMATION
(From about.com -- see below)
From Estonia Country Guide comes an excellent overview page on the Estonian language, a member of the Balto-Finnic group of the Finno-Ugric languages.http://muhu.cs.helsinki.fi/By_Subject/Language/
This is a page of links to Estonian linguistics, language, and dictionaries; there are also a few links to Estonian on-line literature.http://www.inyourpocket.com/Estonia/Estonia_history.shtml
Beginning in the 1st century AD, this is a brief but excellent overview of Estonian history from the "In Your Pocket" tavel guide people. Half the page covers momentous events in the 20th century.http://www.ciesin.ee/ESTCG/HISTORY/
This is another much more detailed site on Estonian history -- links divided into historical periods will take you to separate pages.http://www.erm.ee/pysi/permex.html
This exhibit from the Estonian National Museum is "Estonia: Land, People, Culture." It is an impressively comprehensive series of links to detailed and beautifully illustrated essays (e.g., ancient bee-keeping, seasonal holidays, folk costumes). Plan to spend an enjoyable time exploring this one.http://goeasteurope.miningco.com/library/weekly/aa060799.htm
From Bill Biega at about.com comes "Estonia: Medieval splendor and peaceful nature," a brief but useful (and nicely illustrated) overview on Estonia's people and history:http://www.ciesin.ee/ESTCG/...The people are related to the Finns and have rich ethnic customs, which they have retained, even though they have been an independent country for less than 30 of the last 500 years. For most of the last 300 years they have been ruled by the Russians, from whom they regained their freedom in 1991.The essay has a special focus on her capital, Tallinn. There are links to lovely photos as well as a good map (clickable).
This is the Estonia Country Guide, a good listing of linked categories to all aspects of Estonian life. It's a great place to browse -- I've taken a few links from it for my own page but much more remains. (Note: both the large flag and coat of arms are clickable for more detailed information on them.)http://www.ee/www/Culture_and_Society/welcome.html
From Estonia-Wide Web come many links arranged in subcategories relating to Estonian "Culture and Society" -- another great place to browse.
EASTERN EUROPE:Eastern Europe Menu:
Up to Europe's Opening PagePan-Slavic Traditions & Beliefs:
Russia:Fairy Tales & Folklore: ||| Sacred Ikons: ||| Music:The Balkans:(Note: here you'll find links to individual Balkan countries/states/kingdoms: Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia, once these have been activated.Other Slavic Lands
*** For Greece, see under "Western Europe"; for Hungary, see under "Eastern Europe: Finno-Ugric Peoples.")
Kosovo/Serbian Peace Invocation:
Baltic States:Estonia: ||| Latvia: ||| LithuaniaFinno-Ugric Peoples:Finland: || Hungary:Eurasia: The Caucasus & Beyond:
(Note: for Estonia, see "Baltic Sates"; for Sami and western Siberian peoples, see "INDIGENOUS: Circumpolar.")
Down to Western Europe
Note: I cannot help with homework, but if you have comments or suggestions, please email me at email@example.com
(Background courtesy of Mermaid's
Updates (following the 11/13/98 launch):
27 December 1998; 4 January 1999;
2 & 3 February 1999 (for the 5th anniversary of Marija Gimbutas' death on 2 February 1994);
27 March 1999 (but not posted until 21 April 1999).
I gave Estonia a page of her own 29-30 September 2000.
Unless noted: all links are from late September to 7 October 2000:
28 September 2000 (added more Estonian links);
29-30 September 2000, Michelmas, split Estonia off from Baltic site;
30 September 2000; 2 & 3 October 2000; 5 October 2000 (inc. Nedstating);
7 & 8 October 2000 (finished & reorganized the page).