Amazing Seto Culture and Handicraft – See the Local Life

This year’s Seto handicraft tour started on August 1st, 2023. We had 12 wonderful people all over the world coming to learn some very special Seto traditional craft techniques. I am so happy to welcome Australian Estonians, and Estonian lady from the United States, we have people from Austria, Finland, Lithuania, Netherlands.
On the first day we visited the Estonia National Museum in Tartu. It is an amazing high-tech, modern museum, one-of-a-kind, showing and preserving the every day lives of Estonian people.
We also had a nice lunch in their restaurant.
On the second day we started with the workshops. In the morning singing mother, handicraft master and school teacher Maret Vabarna walked us through the slightly complicated process of setting up tablets for weaving. Belts woven with tablets are quite common in Seto clothing. Once we got it all set up it was pure joy to weave and see the belts growing.
Afternoon brought us some embroidering excitement. Seto kingdom master Marje Linnus showed us how to embroider traditional Seto square stitch. It is very important that it’s done in one long stretch without covering anything double, and that the work will look the same beautiful on both sides.
I was happy to hear that our participants rented bicycles last night and checked out the vicinity. Also, the spa was very popular.

Buss took us to Saatserinna corner of Setomaa in the morning. There is a beautiful handicraft farmhouse in Litvina village called Kriisa talo whose owner is Kala Ingrit.
We spent the whole day there, doing crafts, and enjoying gourmet food picked fresh from the garden.
Our first workshop was learning the seto colorful, crocheted lace. Our teacher Vabarna Jane first showed us all these beautiful works she has done over the years. She started crocheting when she was 16 years old and since then she’s been crocheting master and contest winner for many years.
In order to get a fine result, you need to use a really thin yarn and tiny needle size one.
My students were all really eager. I’m so proud of them that they did not switch to an easier bigger needle size and thicker yarn.
Before lunch our hostess Ingrit showed us how to make local cheese called sõir. This was our appetizer followed by delicious dish she made.
Afternoon workshop was about doll making. In order to understand all the different pieces and details on seto woman’s traditional clothing we made a doll fully equipped with all these important things, instructed by Ingrit.
Dinner was served by the local gourmet restaurant Maagõkõnõ. Once again, vegetables from their own garden and fresh pike from nearby lake Peipus.

Today we learned how to make a sprang belt. Our teacher Marit Külv is very skillful and knowledgeable, she has done her university thesis on the topic.
In the beginning, we got the historic overview of this really ancient technique. Then we started warping – it is the trickiest part of the process. The twisting afterwards is very enjoyable.
For lunch, Seto Museum’s Tsäimaja served us some delicious slow oven-cook lamb.
We spent the afternoon inspecting and researching the old textiles what they keep at the museum, and then we had a guided tour at the old farmhouse complex.
A nice walk to the holy spring finished our day.

It was a glorious day, full of joy, singing, dancing, beautiful traditional clothing, good food, and great company.
Here is a gallery of some moments I captured with my camera. As the village is located on the water, you could come here and leave with the boat – that was just so very cool. There were a lot of contests on different foods and drinks, handicrafts, singing, and dancing.
New queen for Seto was elected and the military parade celebrated this event.

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