Setomaa is situated in the farthest south-eastern corner of Estonia, creating an interesting islet of original culture and language. Frontier traditions and way of life have been passed on from people to people for centuries in that isolated and intact region. Setomaa features beautiful nature and unconventional culture.
Although Seto people consider Setomaa as single area, current administrative distribution of Estonia divides it into four rural municipalities. In addition to that, the eastern half of Setomaa with the town of Petseri is illegaly administrated by Russian Federation.
Who are they then, the Seto people? Their language sounds similar to the Estonian, but it is not Estonian. Their religion seems like that of the Slavonic people, but it is not the same. Setos have always lived at „katõ ilma veere pääl“ – on the periphery of West and East.
View of Setomaa
Before Christianisation the Seto people were pagan. Heathenism is seen from sacrificial stones and spings with healing powers, as well as the statue of Peko, ancient god of fertility. Statue of Peko was kept hidden and the rituals connected with Peko were known to men only. Setos paid homage to Peko twice a year on common parties. Peko god was probably represented by human-shaped wooden or wax statue which was anually moved from one family to another in a certain circle households. The new host was elected among men only. Peko was kept very secret from strangers. Anne Vabarna sings about the hero Peko who becomes the king of Setomaa. But as Peko lies dormant in a sand cave of Pechory town, Setomaa is governed by regent („ülemsootska“) elected by people on the Kingdom Day.
Seto enclosed farm yard