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2018 | 70 | 67-90

Article title

Kirillitsas kirja pandud seto jutuso’

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In the folklore collection of Jakob Hurt there is a manuscript containing Seto songs and tales written in Cyrillic. The texts were sent in 1887 and comprise material written in different languages (Estonian, Russian, Seto) and character systems (Cyrillic, Latin). The texts in the Seto dialect that were written in Cyrillic alphabet belong to two Seto men – Stepan Dimitriyev and monk Arkady (Andrey Yakovlev). Those texts are probably the first written examples of Seto folklore written by Setos themselves. At that time, and also later on, Seto folklore was collected or forwarded majorly by Estonian and Finnish researchers and collectors. Setos in numbers started to collect their folklore on their own only as late as in the 1920s. The manuscripts were sent to J. Hurt by Estonian Jüri Truusmann, the vice president of the Society of Estonian Literati at that time. J. Hurt’s collection also contains his collection of Seto fairy tales (written in Russian) and several songs in the Seto dialect. The letters of Stepan Dimitriyev to J. Truusmann, and J. Truusmann’s letters to J. Hurt present the context to the materials. At the end of the 19th century the majority of Setos were illiterate, as was also the general perception about them among researchers. But there were a number of self-taught people who had received primary education in Russian, increasing their social mobility, and therefore acquired a dual national identity. This dual identity could be the reason why such people have been largely ignored by Seto culture and heritage researchers. From the perspective of writing culture research, however, it is highly important to pay attention also to their texts, as they represent the writing culture of the people for whom writing was not an everyday activity. By discussing the manuscripts of Stepan Dimitriyev and monk Arkady, I would like to show that illiteracy was characteristic of only one (albeit the larger) part of Setos, but at the same time there were literate people among them, who should also be included in the research. These two men’s writings illustrate the writing culture of the 19th century Setos.


  • Estonian Folklore Archives, Estonian Literary Museum, Vanemuise 42, Tartu 51003, ESTONIA


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Publication order reference


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