A Woman Voice in an Epic: Tracing Gendered Motifs in Anne Vabarna's Peko

Andreas Kalkun


In the article the gendered motifs found in Anne Vabarna’s Seto epic Peko are analysed. Besides the narrative telling of the life of the male hero, the motives regarding eating, refusing to eat or offering food, and the aspect of the female body or its control deserve to be noticed. These scenes do not communicate the main plot, they are often related to minor characters of the epic and slow down the narrative, but at the same time they clearly carry artistic purpose and meaning. I consider these motifs, present in the liminal parts of the epic, to be the dominant symbols of the epic where the author’s feminine world is being exposed. Observing these motifs of Peko in the context of Seto religious worldview, the life of Anne Vabarna and the social position of Seto women, the symbols become eloquent and informative.


Seto epic; gendered motifs; female voice; religious worldview; symbols

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ISSN (print) 1736-6518. ISSN (online) 2228-0987. JEF is a joint publication of the University of Tartu, the Estonian National Museum and the Estonian Literary Museum.