Pseudomythology in Estonian Publicity in the 19th and 20th  Century.


In the 1840s and 1850s the pioneers of the Estonian national movement, F. R. Faehlmann and F. R. Kreutzwald, created an Olympus of Estonian gods: the main god Taara or Uku, song god Vanemuine, divine smith Ilmarine, waters god Ahti, the forgotten land of good fortune, Kungla, etc. Much was taken over from the mythology of the Finns, much was the fruit of personal fantasy. It all resulted from the desire to prove that the ancient Estonians had high culture before the foreign conquest in the 13th c. In the 1860s and 1870s the new inspiring mythology became popularized, greatly thanks to C.R. Jakobson, a radical national leader. Poets used the names of mythological heroes in patriotic songs, poems and dramas were written on mythological subjects, national societies were named after mythological gods, etc. In the 1920s, when the national movement had achieved its aims, the folklorists definitively demonstrated that the 19th c. Estonian gods belonged to pseudomythology lacking any root in folk beliefs. Although the society accepted the statement, many pseudomythological names remained firmly rooted. The 19th c. mythology had had a significant role in the formation of Estonian national identity. Today, when the social and cultural life of Estonia has again become especially active, we can notice an analogical interest in antiquity, though entirely different denominators are used.

How to Cite

Viires, A., (1990) “Pseudomythology in Estonian Publicity in the 19th and 20th Century.”, Ethnologia Europaea 21(1), 135-143. doi:


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Ants Viires (Institute of History at the Estonian Academy of Sciences)



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