How traditions can save a nation

  • Duration: 4 hours tour
  • Activity level: medium (bus and walking)
  • Total walking distance: approx. 1 km

 

 
 
The people of Estonia is highly spiritual and values nature and wildlife despite the fact that according to research Estonians are the most indifferent nation towards any church or confession all over the Europe. Estonians believe in accordance with ancient primitive peoples in the power of trees and woods, lakes and rivers.

Handicraft

They are proud to be the tree huggers and follow with all devotion possible the instructions of modern witches and shamans. At the same time the very same men and women has one of the most digitalized society in Europe.

Kihnu Troi – it sounds like a character from a Star Wars film, but is in fact a very distinctive style of Estonian men’s sweater with a unique two-colour braided cast-on! Kihnu (the ‘h’ is sounded) is an island lying in the Gulf of Riga, Troi their famous traditional knitwear originally worn by the men of this fishing community.

Kihnu patterns use black and white wool, with contrasting red bands around hems, cuffs and necks: bands that were believed to grant protection to the wearer. Knitted from very fine wool, all these garments can last for more than a lifetime.

Fine patterns were essential – they produced a dense texture and thus made the sweater warmer and bulletproof. The neckline, lower edge and sleeve ends usually sported decoration woven with madder red yarn, just like mittens worn in Kihnu. This red colour is now used for the sake of beauty and tradition rather than for the former belief in its healing power as the colour of blood.

Magic was said to be especially potent at the openings of a sweater. A linen pocket was sewn to the troi‘s reverse side in front.   The pocket contained a piece of flint and tinder, and later matches. Fire-lighting tools were kept dry in there, did not get lost and were always at hand.

large hollow silver beads – krõllid
tin plaque – tinulised

What is the connection between a mud bath and a beautiful lace shawl?

With its fierce winters and changeable weather, a delicate lace shawl may not be the first item of clothing on your wish list when visiting Estonia. So you might be srprised to learn that there has long been a tradition heralding from the seaside town of Haapsalu for hand knitted lace shawls fine enough to pull through a women’s wedding ring.

Created using lambs’ wool, the tradition started when members of the Russian aristocracy –including the royal Romanov family– visited the famous healing mud baths at the start of the 19th century.

As they walked from the warm baths into the chilly courtyard outside, these women would fling a delicate shawl around their shoulders to keep warm. These garments inspired local Estonian artisans to start creating their own designs.

The shawls are still appreciated nowadays, although they aren’t sold on the boulevard any more. However, you can still have possibility to see, touch and buy these luxurious shawls during our tour. Modern versions of the shawl differ from the traditional shawl in their colour and use of yarn. Yet, mostly the same patterns as 150 years ago are still used.

In modern Estonia, (folk)traditions are still valued in both the country and city life. It’s intriguing to discover how the Estonians carrying out their own traditions.