March 01, 2006

The Land of Wars



In the forested region along the southwest shores of Lake Peipus, straddling the border of Russia and Estonia, lies the land of the Seto people: Setomaa (literally, “Land of Wars” in Seto).

A separate ethnic group from the rest of Estonia – one which converted to Orthodoxy, the Seto have unique traditions of singing runic verse and worshipping pagan deities. They are one of the last remaining traditional folk cultures in Europe.

The area of Setomaa has been inhabited for over 8,000 years. From 862 to 1920, Setomaa was part of the Russian Empire. From 1920 to 1940, Estonia was an independent state, before being incorporated into the Soviet Union as a consequence of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.


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