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The seventh photo contest of Maavalla sacred natural sites drew entries from 11 countries, mainly from the Finno-Ugric peoples.

The 1000 euro grand prize remained in Estonia. It was won by a photo titled “The Põhjatu Spring” taken at the sacred spring of Pähkla village on Saaremaa island, Estonia. The winning photo was shot by an amateur photographer Janno Loide of Tartu, Estonia, who succeeded to depict the sacred site in a manner that is both bewitching and true to nature.

The winner of the 200 euro first prize in the Youth category is Emmeliine Kalvik, 12, of Tallinn, Estonia, who submitted a picture titled „Scraping silver“. She has encaptured the ancient custom of scraping silver as an offering to a sacred spring. She took her picture at the holy well of Lauri in the Janakkala Sacred Grove in Finland.

Anastasia Sidorova of Udmurtia placed first in the Kindred Peoples category with her photograph “Prayer in the grove of Aktash”. The value of this prize is 300 euros. 

Altogether, 21 prizes will be given, including awards for the best depiction of a sacred stone, tree, spring and the pain of a sacred site, as well as special prizes of Estonian National Museum and National Heritage Board.

Besides monetary awards, subscriptions of Estonian nature magazines, a horse trekking holiday, bread making course, conservation holiday, Health Academy gift card, Metsatöll’s album Hiiekoda, and books will be shared out among the participants.

Among the countries represented in the contest are Australia, Georgia, India, Latvia, Nepal, Peru, Roumania, Finland, USA and Russia. As for our kindred peoples, the contest has received contributions depicting the sacred sites of Ingrians, Karelians, Livonians, the Mari, the Merya and the Sami people, Finns, Udmurts and Vepsians.

The youngest participant in the contest is 12 and the oldest 66.

The photos were judged by Epp Margna, an artist; Arne Ader, a nature photographer; Helen Arusoo, editor in chief of the journal Loodusesõber, and Toomas Kalve, a teacher of photography at Tartu Art College. Winners of the special prizes of Estonian National Museum were chosen by the museum’s director Tõnis Lukas and researcher Indrek Jääts. The winner of the special prize of the National Heritage Board was chosen by representatives of the board.

The prizes come from: The Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Kehrwieder, Loodusesõber, Eesti Loodus, Uma Leht, the contest Looduse Aasta Foto, National Heritage Board of Estonia, the Environmental Board of Estonia, the Estonian Folklore Archives, Estonian National Museum, The Võro Institute, Estonian Fund for Nature, the theme park Kalevipoja Koda, Metsatöll, Krautman’s Health Academy, Tihuse riding farm and Tagavälja farm. The contest is arranged by the Centre for Sacred Natural Sites at Tartu University, Hiite Maja Foundation and Maavalla Koda.

The sacred natural sites photo contest aims to raise awareness about the importance of ancient sacred natural sites and the related heritage, to encourage visiting these sites and prevent them from being forgotten. The contest will also take place in 2015.

The winners will be celebrated during the Hiie Vägi ceremony beginning at 1 p.m. on November 29 in the hall of the Estonian Literary Museum, 42 Vanemuise Street, Tartu. Welcome!

Contest photos may be viewed online on the website of Maavalla Koda:
www.maavald.ee/kuvavoistlused/maavalla-hiied-10227


Photographs rejected on subject reasons:
www.maavald.ee/kuvavoistlused/maavalla-hiied-10227-lisa


WINNERS

 

pohjatu_allikas_20141119_1226566603.jpg

Grand Prize of the photo contest – “The Põhjatu Spring”

JANNO LOIDE

Saaremaa, Kaarma parish, Pähkla village. Author Janno Loide.
http://www.maavald.ee/kuvavoistlused/maavalla-hiied-10227/10227/pohjatu-allikas-1826
A morning visit to the Põhjatu spring – the Bottomless spring. Although the pond of the spring is amid a small grove, its surface is seldom entirely smooth, a light breeze nearly always making some ripples.

hobeda_kaapimine_20141119_2036663609.jpg

First Prize in the Youth category – „Scraping silver“

EMMELIINE KALVIK (12)

Finland, Janakkala sacred grove, Laurin lähde.
http://www.maavald.ee/kuvavoistlused/maavalla-hiied-10227/10227/hobeda-kaapimine-1746

We went to Finland with people of Maavalla Koda and I had a good camera to take pictures of the trip. This picture is about scraping silver at a holy well.

 

ktаsh_20141119_1769990224.jpg

Best Photo of a Sacred Site of our Kindred Peoples – „Aktash“

ANASTASIJA SIDOROVA
Russia, Udmurtia, District of Malaya Purga (Pichi Purga), Bargash-Birga village.
http://www.maavald.ee/kuvavoistlused/maavalla-hiied-10227/10227/sh-1614

The prayer site of Aktash is situated a kilometre from the village in the middle of fields and resembles a small pine island. Anna Lebedeva (80) from our village tells about this site: 

„At this prayer site, people used to perform rituals, make porridge and offer poultry. They asked for good harvest and rain. We had a field by Aktash and every time before sowing and ploughing we shed some bird blood there. Behind Aktash there is a forest where people from our village and the neighbouring villages go picking berries and mushrooms. Passing by, they often visit the sacred site, reminding their ancestors and leaving gifts.” 

This autumn the snow came early. I had a good chance to go to the forest with the grandmas of our village (Anastasija Nikolajev ja Olga Lebedev) to bring brooms. On the way back they went to honour ancestors. They made fire and left gifts. This was the moment I managed to capture.

 

lalli_ohvrimaend_ja_hiiekoht_20141119_1630834064.jpg

Best Photo of a Sacred Tree – “Sacrificial pine tree of Lalli”

PILLE PORILA
Tartumaa, Kambja parish, Lalli village.

http://www.maavald.ee/kuvavoistlused/maavalla-hiied-10227/10227/lalli-ohvrimand-ja-hiiekoht-1807

A beautiful and majestic pine-tree to which people come to bring gifts. Concluding from numerous ribbons of the same kind, it is possible that entire families have been here together or that someone has offered good wishes for all family members.

 

 

 

 

 

helme_orjakivi_20141119_1923696107.jpg

Best Photo of a Sacred Stone – “Sacrificial stone of Helme”

OLEV MERIVEE
Valgamaa, Helme parish, Helme village.
http://www.maavald.ee/kuvavoistlused/maavalla-hiied-10227/10227/helme-orjakivi-1528

 

 

suttesjohka_20141119_1739692864.jpgBest Photo of a Sacred Waterbody – “Suttesjohka“

TIINA TÖRMÄNEN
Finland, Sápmi, Ohcejohka. The Suttesjohka Stream
http://www.maavald.ee/kuvavoistlused/maavalla-hiied-10227/10227/suttesjohka-1784

About 8 km from Karigasniemi to Inari, at the border of the Kevo strict nature reserve. Suttesjohka literally means open stream. Its water comes from one of the largest springs in Finland. Suttesjohka is about 500-600 metres long and flows to the Basijavri lake. Water temperature is 3 °C throughout the year and the stream never freezes. The Suttesjohka spring and stream are ancient sacred sites of Sámi, and the spring water is believed to have healing effects. There are many stories and myths about the place. Nearby, there is a large seita mountain called Ailigas. The spring is in its natural state.

udu_20141119_1438912282.jpg

Nature Conservation Prize and Best Photo of a Sacred Site in Old Võromaa – “The oak of Tamme-Lauri“

JANEK JOAB
Võrumaa, Urvaste parish, Urvaste village. 
 
http://www.maavald.ee/kuvavoistlused/maavalla-hiied-10227/10227/udu-1531

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

markha_oru_jumaluse_puehapaik_20141119_1671985506.jpgBest Photo of Gifts – “Sacred site of the deity of Markha Valley“

AADO LINTROP

India, the state of Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh.
http://www.maavald.ee/kuvavoistlused/maavalla-hiied-10227/10227/markha-oru-jumaluse-puhapaik-1494

India, the state of Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Markha valley. A sacred site in honour of the deity of the local valley (Markha valley) has evolved in the surroundings of an ochre stone that stands on a natural pillar. A traditional lha tho (‘seat of gods’ in Tibetan, a pile of stones decorated with prayer flags) has been built near the stone. A little bit further there are chörtens that do not show in the picture.

 

osh_kuehp._shnuj_oto_20141119_1792729395.jpg

Best Photo of Customs – “Ош куэр. Шнуй ото“ (White birch grove. Sacred grove) 

SERGEI TANÕGIN
Russia, Mari El, District of Kuzhener, Nursola village.
http://www.maavald.ee/kuvavoistlused/maavalla-hiied-10227/10227/sh-uer-shnui-1546
Standing on the high shore of the Mushyl lake or the Marine Eye, Gvido Tobis played a Latvian-Livonian tune dedicated to the Creator God. The plaintive tune of the bagpipes filled our hearts with a hope for the revival of the harmony of nature. Folklore group Delve visited the Marine Eye during an ethnographic expedition in August 2014. 

 

mol_-baвolynshchikа_20141119_2028015093.jpg

Best Photo of Tradition –“Мольба волынщика“ (Prayer of the bagpipes)

IVAN BOGOMOLOV
Russia, Mari El, District of Volga, Shariboksad
http://www.maavald.ee/kuvad/?tee=kuva&kuva=1892

Standing on the high shore of the Mushyl lake or the Marine Eye, Gvido Tobis played a Latvian-Livonian tune dedicated to the Creator God. The plaintive tune of the bagpipes filled our hearts with a hope for the revival of the harmony of nature. Folklore group Delve visited the Marine Eye during an ethnographic expedition in August 2014.

 

odnosheniya_вӱdава_20141119_1150547390.jpg

Best Photo of Tradition – „Подношения Вӱдава“ (Gifts to Mother Water)

IVAN BOGOMOLOV
Russia, Mari El, District of Volga, Shariboksad
http://www.maavald.ee/kuvavoistlused/maavalla-hiied-10227/10227/p-dn-sh-nija-v-d-v-1754
At autumnal equinox, 21.09 the people of Sharyi village held a prayer on the shores of the drying lake Mushyl (Maryne Eye). They brought traditional Mari gifts to Mother Water and Mountain Spirit: bread, blini and kvass. Our ancestors have kept belief in the power of these deities and passed it to us. Old people have told us that in earlier times, Maris held prayers on the foot of the hill that stands by the lake. Now garbage has been dumped there. We are going to clean up the site next year to hold community prayers there again. We hope that honouring spiritual heritage and nature will bring water back to this most beautiful lake of Mari El.

 

samma_hiie_vaeraval_20141119_1160117840.jpg

Best Photo of Virumaa – „At the gates of the Samma grove“

RETI KOKK
Lääne-Virumaa, Viru-Nigula parish, Samma village, the sacred grove of Tammealuse
http://www.maavald.ee/kuvavoistlused/maavalla-hiied-10227/10227/samma-hiie-varaval-1634

 

 

lee_ohvrikivi_20141119_1904866082.jpgBest Photo of Sacred Sites on Islands – „Lee sacrificial stone“

MARTIN SUUROJA
Hiiumaa, Pühalepa parish, Sakla village
http://www.maavald.ee/kuvavoistlused/maavalla-hiied-10227/10227/lee-ohvrikivi-1557

While the sacred grove has regrettably perished, the sacrificial stone remains.

 

 

suttesjohka_3_20141119_1225661583.jpg

Best Photo of Sacred Sites in the World – „Suttesjohka 3“

TIINA TÖRMÄNEN
Finland, Sápmi, Ohcejohka. The Suttesjohka Stream

http://www.maavald.ee/kuvavoistlused/maavalla-hiied-10227/10227/suttesjohka-3-1786

About 8 km from Karigasniemi to Inari, at the border of the Kevo strict nature reserve. Suttesjohka literally means open stream. Its water comes from one of the largest springs in Finland. Suttesjohka is about 500-600 metres long and flows to the Basijavri lake. Water temperature is 3 °C throughout the year and the stream never freezes. The Suttesjohka spring and stream are ancient sacred sites of Sámi, and the spring water is believed to have healing effects. There are many stories and myths about the place. Nearby, there is a large seita mountain called Ailigas. The spring is in its natural state.

 

laatre_ristipettaei_laeheb_ermi_20141119_1643339057.jpg

Best Photo of Cross Trees – „Laatre ristipettäi goes to the National Museum“

ARVO MEEKS/ VALGAMAALANE
Valgamaa, Tõlliste parish, Laatre. 
http://www.maavald.ee/kuvavoistlused/maavalla-hiied-10227/10227/laatre-ristipettai-laheb-ermi-1677

The picture has been captured just a moment before the oldest tree of Old Livonia – the cross-tree of Laatre was taken down to be removed to Estonian National Museum. The tree was about to fall over and decay. After conservation, the tree will be exposed in the museum, to present one of our cultural peculiarities.

 

 

 

 

 

taenapaeevane_komme_puehapaigas_-_paelte_sidumine_nimetahvlile_20141119_1913041357.jpg

I Prize of Estonian National Museum – „Modern custom at a sacred site – tying ribbons to a sign“

ELIS PILLOV
Viljandimaa, Kolga-Jaani parish, Vaibla village, sacrificial stone.

http://www.maavald.ee/kuvavoistlused/maavalla-hiied-10227/10227/paelad-784

There were no gifts on the stone. Neither were there any ribbons on the nearby tree. Yet, several ribbons had been tied to the sign of the heritage site.

 

 

 

 

 

osh_kuehp._shnuj_oto_20141119_2065436223.jpg

II Prize of Estonian National Museum – „Ош куэр. Шнуй ото“ (White birch grove. Sacred grove)

SERGEI TANÕGIN
Russia, Mari El, District of Kuzhener, Nursola village
http://www.maavald.ee/kuvavoistlused/maavalla-hiied-10227/10227/sh-uer-shnui-1544

The grove near Nursola village is one of the oldest known sacred sites of Maris. Prayers have been held there from ancient times. The grove is situated at the highest point of Mari El. The site is deeply honoured by Maris, with regional, all-Mari El and even worldwide prayers taking place. 

pueha_vaher_20141119_1415740598.jpg

III Prize of Estonian National Museum – „Sacred maple-tree““

DMITRII HARAKKA-ZAITSEV
Russia, Ingria, Soikkolanmäki or Kirkonmäki
http://www.maavald.ee/kuvavoistlused/maavalla-hiied-10227/10227/puha-vaher-1640

On Soikkola hill, there was growing an old maple-tree that the local people honoured just as they honoured the nearby church. Many years ago the tree was hit by lightning. The heart of the tree burned, with only the charred outer layer remaining. Next spring the tree became green again, as in the springs to follow. People brought gifts to the hollow of the sacred tree, such as coins and ikons. Two years ago, the men who cut trees around the church also cut the old maple-tree. The entire area of Soikkino is on the verge of ruin now. When a chemical plant is built, rare habitats, sanctuaries and sacred natural sites will perish. Izhorians believe that the spirits of ancestors and the sanctuary of Soikkola will help them fight this unequal battle against the inconsiderate decisions of those in power.

tsepeli_allikas_20141119_2062720472.jpg

IV Prize of Estonian National Museum – „The sacred grove and holy well of Tsepel“

VALERI MIKOR
Russia, Mari El, Nizhnij Novgorod oblast, Vorotynskij District, Vassilsursk, Shurdüng.
http://www.maavald.ee/kuvavoistlused/maavalla-hiied-10227/10227/tsepeli-allikas-1756


Shurdüng, Vassilsursk, Vorotünskij rajoon, Nizhni Novgorodi oblast. A prayer and offering site of the Mountain Mari traditional religion. 

The sacred grove of Tsepel grows on a mountain slope 0,4 km SE from Vasilsursk. 130-year-old oak-trees grow in the grove together with limes and birches. In the southern edge of the grove there is a holy well. This is one of the most sacred sites of the Mountain Maris and it is dedicated to the god Kugu Jumo. Besides the Mountain Maris, also Russians and the Chuvash people honour this sacred spring. On the proposal of the Kitarvas Society the oblast government listed the sacred grove as a protected monument in 1996.

For more information, please see: http://www.vasilsursk.ru/tur/kruzhka.htm 

elu_ringkaeik_20141119_1920388238.jpg

Youth Prize of the National Heritage Board – „Circle of Life“

EDGAR LAKSA
Tartumaa, Mäksa parish, villages of Võruküla and Koke, the sacred grove of Kiigeoru.
http://www.maavald.ee/kuvavoistlused/maavalla-hiied-10227/10227/elu-ringkaik-1590
In the natural cycle of substances the life-time of even the mightiest is limited. Death gives rise to life, and the other way round.