04 September 2017
Jersey welcomes a group of folk performers from the Baltic island of Kihnu on 14 and 15 September in a visit supported by the Estonian Embassy in London.
The cultural traditions of Kihnu, an Estonian island about a seventh of the size of Jersey with a population of around 600, have been recognised by UNESCO as ‘masterpieces of oral and intangible heritage’.
Following adoption of the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity in November 2001, UNESCO has designated outstanding examples of intangible heritage in the same way that it has recognised and protected the natural and cultural treasures of the world’s tangible heritage.
Kihnu is acclaimed for its music and dance, its language, handicrafts and its costumes, and these will be explored in a public presentation at the Société Jersiaise on Thursday 14 September and in performances in Primary Schools the following day.
Visit to Jersey
Leading the group of ten is Mrs Mare Mätas, head of Kihnu’s heritage organisation, who has been behind the UNESCO inscription process. The group, comprising four adults and six children, is accompanied by Estonia’s Cultural Counsellor, Ms Kersti Kirs.
Ms Kirs said that she was delighted that Estonian Embassy could showcase the UNESCO–listed culture of Kihnu in Jersey during the period of the Estonian EU Presidency.
“Estonia counts 2,222 islands and isles as part of its territory but the tiny Kihnu island is certainly the most outstanding and popular one, especially among tourists.
“In 2018 Estonia also celebrates the Year of Youth Culture and it is important to draw attention to the future of our population, especially on islands, some of which are quite isolated as Kihnu is. We are certain that the visit to Jersey will remain for a long time in the minds of these young Kihnu children and will hopefully help to build new bridges between Kihnu and Jersey.”
The visit follows contacts developed during the visit of the Estonian Ambassador His Excellency Mr Lauri Bambus to Jersey last year for the appointment of Mr Auberon Ashbrooke as Honorary Consul for Estonia in Jersey.
Deputy Murray Norton, Assistant Minister with responsibility for Culture, warmly welcomed the visit: “I’m delighted that it’s possible for the Kihnu delegation to visit Jersey with the support of the Estonian Embassy. Kihnu is a fascinating island and the story of its success in promoting its unique culture in the face of wider global pressures is a remarkable one.”
Kihnu, the largest island in the Gulf of Riga, belongs to the Pärnu County of Estonia and is the country’s seventh largest island.
Music is an especially important part of island life, and is used to accompany handicrafts, religious feasts and other celebrations. All children in the island learn to play the violin from an early age and the visiting delegation includes six young performers.
The presentation at the Société Jersiaise will include live music and dance, a talk about the island and its culture, and the screening of a short film putting Kihnu’s culture in its island context.
The performance at the Société Jersiaise takes place at 7.00 p.m. on Thursday 14 September. Admission is free but places must be reserved by contacting the Société Jersiaise on 758314, by emailing@ firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting 7 Pier Road.