Estonian Literary Museum

Tartu, Estonia

Estonian Literary Museum

Tartu, Estonia
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Soukand R.,Estonian Literary Museum | Soukand R.,University of Tartu | Kalle R.,Estonian Literary Museum
Journal of Ethnopharmacology | Year: 2011

Aim of the study: The aim of this paper is to compare the changes in the utilization of species from various hemeroby categories (indicating the degree of sensitivity of the plant to human impact) using historical data concerning the years 1888-1994. Materials and methods: The authors digitised 8808 handwritten reports, reflecting local ethnopharmacological knowledge from 8 selected collections from the Estonian Folklore Archives of the Estonian Literary Museum. They were semi-quantitatively analyzed according to the sensitivity to human impact of 540 taxa that could possibly be related to the plant vernacular names given in the reports. Results: Although in different periods of time the number of ethnopharmacologically used plants has changed, the proportion of plants utilized from each group has remained relatively same, consisting on average of: 23% anthropophytes, 42% apophytes, 32% hemeradiaphores and 3% hemerophobes. Comparison of the application of the most used plants revealed considerable changes of plant utilization, in which the varied use of the most popular anthropophytes increased and the applied scope of the most popular hemeradiaphores and hemerophobes decreased almost by twofold in one century. Case studies on seven taxa are presented, of them, use of Allium sativum L., Aesculus hippocastanum L. and Mentha xpiperita L. increased, whereas the use of Hordeum L., Orchidaceae, Paris quadrifolia L. and Briza media L. decreased greatly. Conclusions: This research contributes to the better understanding of the cognitive and human ecological concepts underlying the use of medicinal plants in Estonia. Strong increase in the ethnomedical utilization of plants depending on human influence, and a decrease in the use of taxa that do not prefer human activities indicates that, despite some of the population still have access to natural resources and diverse knowledge of the medical use of plants, the majority relies on a very narrow selection and a rather restricted herbal landscape. © 2011 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

Pieroni A.,University of Gastronomic Sciences | Soukand R.,Estonian Literary Museum
Journal of Ethnobiology | Year: 2017

Few ethnobiological studies have thus far addressed the effect of diverse social, economic, and political variables that may influence the dynamics of folk plant knowledge. The aim of this work was to better understand the legacy of plant use in the post-Soviet context-particularly in Western Ukraine-by documenting the use of wild plants for food among Boykos living in Transcarpathia and comparing the findings with the results of a previous study conducted among their close neighbors, Bukovinian Hutsuls, living on the other side of the mountains. We documented the use of 35 taxa belonging to 20 families, mostly represented by Rosaceae species. The most popular taxa were Vaccinium sp. and Carum carvi, while the most popular emic food domain was represented by recreational teas, i.e., teas that are not drunk with the aim to obtain a precise therapeutic activity. The main finding, however, was that the difference between the wild food ethnobotany of the Boykos and Hutsuls was far more restricted than the ethnobotanical disparity that was recorded between Bukovinian Hutsuls living on the two sides of the state border (created seven decades ago) between Ukraine and Romania. This outcome may have important implications in ethnobiology, confirming the possible "homogenizing" effect played by the Communist period in the former Soviet Union, possibly due to Soviet agrarian reforms, obligations to work in collective farms (kolkhozes), and the considerable lessening of serendipitous contact with the natural environment. © 2017 Society of Ethnobiology.

Raal A.,University of Tartu | Volmer D.,University of Tartu | Soukand R.,Estonian Literary Museum | Hratkevits S.,University of Tartu | Kalle R.,Estonian Literary Museum
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

The aim of the current survey was to investigate the complementary self-treatment of the common cold and flu with medicinal plants among pharmacy customers in Estonia. A multiple-choice questionnaire listing 10 plants and posing questions on the perceived characteristics of cold and flu, the effectiveness of plants, help-seeking behaviour, self-treatment and sources of information, was distributed to a sample of participants in two medium size pharmacies. The participants were pharmacy customers: 150 in Tallinn (mostly Russian speaking) and 150 in Kuressaare (mostly Estonian speaking). The mean number of plants used by participants was 4.1. Of the respondents, 69% self-treated the common cold and flu and 28% consulted with a general practitioner. In general, medicinal plants were considered effective in the treatment of the above-mentioned illnesses and 56% of the respondents had used exclusively medicinal plants or their combination with OTC medicines and other means of folk medicine for treatment. The use of medicinal plants increased with age and was more frequent among female than male respondents. Among Estonian-speaking customers lime flowers, blackcurrant and camomile were more frequently used, and among Russian speaking customers raspberry and lemon fruits. Regardless of some statistically significant differences in preferred species among different age, education, sex and nationality groups, the general attitude towards medicinal plants for self-treatment of the common cold and flu in Estonia was very favourable. © 2013 Raal et al.

Kalle R.,Estonian University of Life Sciences | Soukand R.,Estonian Literary Museum
Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society | Year: 2013

In this ethnobotanical study, the authors provide the first quantitative analysis of the use of wild edible plants in Estonia, describing the domains and assessing the food importance of different species. The information was collected using free-listing written questionnaires and concerned plants used by the respondents in their childhood. As part of a major study, this article covers the responses of professionals with some botanical education at vocational or university level, to ensure the greatest possible reliability without using voucher specimens. Fifty-eight respondents provided information on the use of 137 plant taxa, corresponding to approximately 6% of the native and naturalized vascular plants of Estonia. According to use frequency, the most typical wild food plant of Estonia is a fruit, eaten raw as a snack. The results clearly signal that the majority of famine and food shortage plants had already been forgotten by the end of the 20th century, but new plants have been introduced as green vegetables for making salads. Despite changes in the nomenclature of the plants, the use of wild food plants in Estonia was still thriving at the turn of the 20th century, covering many domains already forgotten in urbanized modern Europe. © 2013 The Linnean Society of London.

Kalle R.,Estonian University of Life Sciences | Soukand R.,Estonian Literary Museum
Acta Societatis Botanicorum Poloniae | Year: 2012

This paper is a historical ethnobotanical review of wild plants used by the residents of present day Estonia during the 1770s-1960s. Twenty two sources addressing historical ethnographical accounts of the use of wild food plants were analysed. The use of 149 taxa of vascular plants (over 6% of Estonian vascular flora) and two lichens has been recorded. Although the data does not allow for reliable determination of the frequency of use of specific taxa among the population, general conclusions on the preferences for specific dishes made of wild food plants can be made. While the category of snacks covers the largest proportion of species used, a substantial addition to food rations was provided by bread ingredients (used predominantly in famine times), green vegetables used for making soup, and later jams and other dishes of wild berries. Also beverages (tea and coffee substitutes), beer and beer-like drinks were widely made, and the saps of several tree species were consumed in fresh and fermented form. The most important species, according to the criterion of diversity of use, were Carum carvi, Urtica dioica, and the wild berries Vaccinium vitis-idaea and Vaccinium myrtillus. © The Author(s) 2012.

Soukand R.,Estonian Literary Museum | Kalle R.,Estonian Literary Museum | Kalle R.,Estonian University of Life Sciences
Appetite | Year: 2012

This research contributes to a better understanding of the criteria used for the selection of plants for making beverages. Worldwide, not only the leaves of Camellia sinensis, but also various other plants are used for making tea. We argue that the selection of plants for making tea (in Estonian teetaimed) depends on specific features possessed by or attributed to the plants. 54 plant taxa and one lichen were identified as being used for making tea, based on the analysis of Estonian historical handwritten archival records on plant use for the period from 1887 to 1994. The influence of popular literature on the use of plants for making tea was also assessed. The suitability of a plant for making tea depends on a combination of factors like multifunctional use, mild taste and attributed medicinal properties. The variety of medicinal properties attributed to teetaimed in folk medicine allowed herbal tea drinking to be considered as mild disease prevention. Hence, the roots of the Estonian tea tradition lie in the medicinal use of the plants, not oriental ceremonial tea drinking. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Soukand R.,Estonian Literary Museum | Kalle R.,Estonian Literary Museum | Kalle R.,Estonian University of Life Sciences
Journal of Ethnopharmacology | Year: 2013

Ethnopharmacological relevance Traditional use of local wild and cultivated plants for making recreational tea in Estonia often borders with the medicinal use of the same plants. Aim of the study The aim of this paper is to map the perceptions of plants used for making tea and to define the domains of recreational and medicinal teas in specific cultural settings. Materials and methods Between November 2011 and March 2012 the authors distributed electronic questionnaires on the use of wild food plants in childhood. The questionnaire was answered by 250 respondents. 178 of them reported the use of plants for making recreational teas. The responses were analysed according to the taxonomy of the used plants, the most frequently used taxa and families were detected, the influence of respondents' demographic data on the number of use reports was assessed and the overlapping of medicinal and recreational uses was discussed. Results The study detected 69 vascular plant species, ten vascular taxa identified on the genera level only, and one lichen. The most popular families were Rosaceae, Asteraceae and Lamiacea, and 12 taxa were used by at least 10% of the respondents, while only one of them (Tilia) was used by more than 50% and one (Rubus idaeus) by over 33% of the respondents. The next ten most used taxa were: Rosa, Mentha, Primula veris, Matricaria, Achillea millefolium, Hypericum, Carum carvi, Urtica dioica, Thymus serpyllum and Fragaria. Of the 30 most used consolidated taxa mentioned in five or more use records, only four were used exclusively in one domain. Conclusions The majority of the used plants were situated on the recreational-medicinal continuum, which could be divided into two domains: recreational, medicinal and the "grey" area that lies around the borderline. The predominance of the cold and cold-related diseases on the spectrum treated by plants used for making recreational tea reflects the climatic conditions of the region and suggests that they are the most commonly self-treated diseases in the region, seen from the child's perspective. © 2013 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.

Soukand R.,Estonian Literary Museum | Pieroni A.,University of Gastronomic Sciences
Journal of Ethnopharmacology | Year: 2016

Ethnopharmacological relevance Recent studies have shown that groups sharing the same or very similar environments, but with diverse cultural backgrounds (e.g. different ethnos and/or religion) have considerably different knowledge of folk (medicinal) plant uses. Yet, it is not clear to what extent various factors (such as culture, economy, isolation, and especially social and political situations) contribute to such differences in the utilization of the same natural resources. Aim of the study This paper addresses the effect of border created in 1940 and subsequent separation of a single ethnic group on changes in their folk use of medicinal and wild food plants. The Hutsuls of Bukovina had been homogenous for centuries, but were separated in 1940 as a result of the formation of state borders between Romania and the former Soviet Union (now Ukraine). The aim of the study is to analyse if the belonging to this different states for 75 years have induced different changes in local plant use within communities that share a common historical legacy and environment. Materials and methods In depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with 42 people in May 2015. Collected data were analysed, and comparisons were made between the data gathered on the two sides of the border for different use categories: medicinal, wild food and veterinary plants, as well as other remedies. Recently collected data were also compared with historical data obtained for the region, medicinal plant folk uses in Romania and medicinal plant uses of The State Pharmacopeia of the Soviet Union. Results Divergences in current medicinal plant use are much greater than in the use of wild food plants. The majority of the wild food taxa, including those used for making recreational teas, are also used for medicinal purposes and hence contribute to the food-medicine continuum, representing emergency foods in the past and serving as memory markers for possible future food shortages. Compared with the historical data, considerable changes have occurred within specific medicinal applications and less in the taxa used. The influence of the Soviet State Pharmacopeia on present ethnomedicine on the Ukrainian side is minimal. Conclusions Hutsul herbal ethnomedicine on the Ukrainian side of the border has continued to evolve (the abandonment of some uses and the adoption of others), whereas on the Romanian side it has undergone significant erosion with a proportionally smaller adoption of new uses and the leaving behind of possibly more "traditional" uses than on the Ukrainian side. In sum, current ethnomedicinal practices of Hutsuls living on both sides of the border are more extensive than those reported in historical sources. Yet the unknown sampling method employed to collect the historical data and possible skipping of "ordinary" uses by folklorists and ethnographers does not allow for definitive conclusions to be drawn. Cross-cultural and cross-border ethnobotany represents one of the most powerful means for addressing the issue of change and variability of medicinal plant uses and heritage, and further studies in other areas of Eastern Europe and beyond need to address the trajectory proposed by the present study. © 2016 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

Soukand R.,Estonian Literary Museum
Appetite | Year: 2016

Recent studies on the use of wild food plants have identified various reasons for their use and underlined their importance as an emergency food supply. This work analysed the content of narratives obtained as comments regarding the reasons for using or not using wild food plants mentioned during 48 semi-structured recorded interviews. The results show that past demand for the diversification of food experiences and taste was essential for the consumption of wild plants, while the present concern for the disappearance of wild food taxa familiar from childhood is one of the main reasons for decrease in their consumption. This indicates that people do not really feel that they need to use wild food plants anymore (except for the health benefits), and that they are concerned that their favourite plants are no longer available. The erosion of the practical use of wild food plants is also supported by the very small frequency in which the influence of teachings coming from outside the community was mentioned in discussions of both the past and present, and thus the loss of traditional uses is not really substituted by new uses acquired from elsewhere. Further research is needed to understand lay perceptions of the changes that have occurred in nature, society and the economy, in the context of their influence on the everyday use of wild food plants to appreciate the ways in which knowledge erosion takes place and to find means of retaining this basic knowledge within the society. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd

The integration of the (orthodox) Setos into the Republic of Estonia established in 1918 soon revealed some conflicts due to cultural differences. The modernized Estonians tended to patronize their "lesser brothers" and to reform their culture and lifestyle, which was considered old-fashioned and reactionary. There was a change in attitude towards Seto religious practices in Estonia, namely, their traditional fasts became a public health issue, their food offerings were discussed in relation to economy and their celebration of church holidays all of a sudden belonged to the discourse of crime and alcoholism. The economic benefits or harms of Seto religious practices as well as their health effects were contemplated without considering the fact that for Setos the observation of traditional ritual practices, such as, for example, church festivals and commemoration of the departed was the only possible way and as such it did not partake of the categories of health or economy. Based on the material kept in the Estonian Folklore Archives the article discusses the role of Seto religious feasts and fasts in their self-image as well as in their early representations, especially in the texts of the discourse of Seto Estonization, which began in the 1920s. It is demonstrated how the modernized Estonians, who emphasized secularism, abstinence and Estonian nationalism, used to stigmatize the fasts and religious feasts of the Seto, which were the most conspicuous features of their religious and everyday ways.

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