The cultural landscapes of Transitional Estonia

West of the Pandivere Upland lies the forested and paludified, sparsely inhabited Kõrvemaa, covering the areas of the modern counties of Harjumaa, Raplamaa, Järvamaa and Lääne-Virumaa. The name Kõrvemaa originates from an old Estonian word kõrb, denoting a forested area without human habitation. Only much later the same word came to be used for far-away arid areas of sparse vegetation and inhabitation, familiar to Estonians from the Bible. More than 300 place names containing the word kõrve have been listed in Estonia, many of them still in use. Inhabitation has become even sparser in some places.

The abundant water in Kõrvemaa is caused by the outflow of ground water in springs at the foot of the Pandivere Upland and by the general plain relief. The greater part of Kõrvemaa is covered with mires (the most characteristic of Kõrvemaa being raised bogs with numerous bog-pools) and forests. The landscape of Northern Kõrvemaa is more variegated, having also kame fields and esker systems. In the southern part, small drumlins rise from the level mires

In folk use, kõnnumaa denotes places of poor soil that rise somewhat higher from the surrounding paludified areas. Such places are quite numerous in the central part of Transitional Estonia, where there are plenty of place names containing the word Kõnnu, especially around the towns of Järvakandi and Lelle. Kõnd is naturally characterised by poor, either paludified or sandy, soil. It can be covered with forest, mire or grassland, or by a former field. Farmlands are few, fields having been cultivated in higher areas.

Kõnnumaa is sparsely populated. The villages are small and separated from each other by mires and forests. The main centres are Lelle Village and Järvakandi, known as the centre of Estonian glass works. The large forests of the area were the reason why glass works were established here a century ago, as the works used plenty of firewood.

The forests of Vändra An old name for a large area of Estonian forests is the Vändra forest; the name has been used to denote landscapes surrounding the country town of Vändra for a long time. As the forests were plentiful there, Vändra developed into a large lumbering centre more than a hundred years ago. For the same reason, Vändra was known as a bear habitat. Now, the greater part of Vändra forests has been cut. Because of extensive drainage in the 1960s and 1970s, the banks of the rivers and streams of the area have been made into fields. Therefore Vändra is not surrounded by great forests any more, but Vändra is included in the Soomaa landscape area, which is still one of the most forested areas in Estonia.

Jakobson's Kurgja
The Kurgja Farm Museum is located about 15 km north of Vändra beside the Pärnu River. The Kurgja farm museum is a ‘living museum’. Dairy cattle and sheep are bred here, everyday farming is carried out on the fields, and a restored water mill on the Pärnu River is in working order. On special days museum visitors can take part in farm work. Open-air theatre performances and concerts are held on the museum grounds. The museum has been created at the farm of one of the leaders of the Estonian national awakening in the 19th century, Carl Robert Jakobson.

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