On 6 December, Estonia’s first exhibition at UNESCO headquarters was opened by Estonian ambassador to the organization Ingrid Amer and the recently appointed UNESCO director general, Audrey Azoulay. “Women with Covered Heads”, curated by Andreas Kalkun with exhibition design by Agnes Ratas, examines the beliefs and customs of women in the Seto region of Estonia.
In her opening address, Amer said that although the polyphonic leelo singing tradition was the best-known aspect of Seto culture, being included on the UNESCO list of intangible human heritage, Seto culture is far richer. “The beautiful, dignified clothing of Seto women, today worn only for celebrations, has long been an object of wonder and it has also given community members information about the people wearing them. This lesser-known facet of Seto culture is worth introducing.”
Exhibition curator Andreas Kalkun, speaking for the Seto community, thanked UNESCO for its support in putting value on Seto culture. "I’m very glad that the exhibition that was on display last summer at the Seto Farm Museum in Värska is today basically visible for the whole world to see at UNESCO in the city centre of Paris.”
Ethnology scholar Tatiana Benfoughal introduced a book published in July concerning research expeditions conducted in 1937 and 1938 in the Seto region by Boris Vilde and Leonid Zurov for the Musée de l’Homme. The book is a Seto-French-Russian collaboration and was more than four years in the making. It will be published in an Estonian edition presently.
The exhibition is part of the programme of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the EU and was supported by the Estonian representation at UNESCO, the UNESCO Estonian National Commission and the Ministry of Culture. The exhibition at UNESCO headquarters will run through 12 December.
More information about the exhibition: fr.unesco.org/events/exposition-coiffe-femmes-pays-seto
About the book: setomaa.postimees.ee/4332145/pariisis-esitletakse-seto-prantsuse-vene-uhist-raamatut-prantslaste-ekspeditsioonidest-setomaale
Photographs by UNESCO’s official photographer: flic.kr/s/aHsmaedke1 (© UNESCO/Christelle ALIX)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs