kolmapäev, juuni 13, 2007

Mats Hobusega

One thing I have always had a hard time doing is finding a national personification for Estonia. That is the US has Uncle Sam, and the UK has John Bull, and closer to home, Sweden has Svenson and Finland has Pekka Põder.

But who is the national personification of Estonia? Is it some cute coincidence of names -- Juku Jänes or Tanel Tamm, or is it a genuine national figure like Marko Märtin or Mihkel Mutt that sums Estonia up?

One character that always seems an apt metaphor for the average Estonian is Mats Hobusega -- Mats with the horse, a sort of self-deprecating view of Estonia's humble, agricultural background.

To me, all Estonians are a bit Mats Hobusega. But then again, it's hard for Estonians to agree on anything, let alone what kind of slogan they should have in their airports or who their next president should be. Estonians would rather eat other Estonians that decide on who their national personification should be. But what the hell, this is a blog, we might as well try.

26 kommentaari:

antyx ütles ...

Markko Märtin moved to Monaco. ;)

I think Andrus Veerpalu is the most uncontroversially positive Estonian national hero.

klx ütles ...

just don't do what slovenia did.

"sLOVEnia" - yeah. lame.

Wahur ütles ...

In Estonian it would make sense to use already existing expression, so "maalt ja hobusega" goes better.
Although, Mats as an equivalent of boneheaded Estonian has been used already by Tammsaare.

Anonüümne ütles ...

Lennart Meri invented Tädi Maali (Aunt Maali) do describe an ordinary person who doesn't know much about new technology and things that are going around in the world. But it's not exactly what you are looking for.

Martin-Éric ütles ...

Põder is definitely not a Finnish name, so no, not Pekka Põder for the embodiment of Finland. We tend to have Matti Meikäläinen for that.

keelek6rv ütles ...

pekka poro then :)
and yes, estonian mats has a second addition, _maalt_ (from countryside) ja hobusega. it's sometimes used to describe yourself if you are a bit lost or not familiar with things - a typical apology is - "ma olen maalt ja hobusega..". sometimes you mention it also when you live outside of tallinn and visit the capital city :)

Giustino ütles ...

What about a female personification?

Rainer ütles ...

Personally, I'm not too excited about this Mats-thing... Let us not forget that it is in fact a Swedish name in origin: Mats Vilander the tennis player for example.
And what comes to our rural roots, does something that obvious really need that much emphesising?
Comedy character Valdur Põld is meant to personify an Estonian Average Joe, wouldn't he do the trick?

keelek6rv ütles ...

actually, mats can be interpreted in 2 ways and one of them is not the real first name at all; meaning "mats" (peasant) as the opposite to "saks" (squire)
see the song: http://www.hot.ee/nemsa1/tekstid/mats_on_tubli.htm

i think that kind of interpretation is much more common than taking mats as a first name of a person. and "maalt ja hobusega" definitely goes with that peasant explanation, not with a name.
see also: http://www.eki.ee/dict/qs2006/index.cgi?Q=mats&F=M&O=0&E=0

mat's <20: mat'si, .mat'si> sageli halv, (ka sõimusõna). ▪ Matsid ja vurled. Küll on mats mees! Iga mats tikub õpetama (igaüks). Talu+, maa+mats. Kolu+mats (lastehirmutis); nimeta+mats nimetu sõrm. Matsi+rahvas, +sugu, +plika

keelek6rv ütles ...

oh yes, and my suggestion about a female personification:
Karu Kati and/or Jänku Juta
(from Mõmmi aabits)http://www.raamatukoi.ee/cgi-bin/raamat?26367

space_maze ütles ...

Lennart Meri invented Tädi Maali (Aunt Maali) do describe an ordinary person who doesn't know much about new technology and things that are going around in the world. But it's not exactly what you are looking for.

I've seen Tädi Maali in ABC books from the 70s .. was Lennart Meri already involved then?

As for the personification of your random Estonian female .. in a young age group, random profile off rate.ee ;-)

Wahur ütles ...

Rainer, you are a bit wrong. Mats was quite widespread male name in Estonia. Probably best-known Estonian Mats is Sittakotti Mats, buried in Hanila churchyard in 1675. Definitely very Estonian name :)
Second, it was used by Baltic Germans as (humiliating) name for Estonians, kind of a local version of 'nigger' (one of its meanings is even now 'unpolite person').
Until Tammsaare gave it a more positive meaning, making it a symbol of our nice down-to-earth national character :D

Tanel ütles ...

Well, "mats" for sure has roots deep in the history and to use a quota from the cult movie "Viimne reliikvia" (The Last Relic): "..matsid jäävad matsideks" ("mats"-s will always be "mats"-s).

But as a modern personification of Estonia I would suggest "Jaan Tamm".
Meaning an average Estonian guy. The first name is probably the most popular man name for centuries and is not fading away. Jaan is definitely Estonian and so is the last name "Tamm" (Oak). Deriving already from the pre-christian time oak is and remains until today great symbol in Estonia. I would guess it is the most popular symbol used on logos and etc.
So it also turned out as the most common family name in Estonia. Probably it was the most wanted name when serfdom was abolished in Estonia.
In mu experience that is how people often refer to or joke about somebody "that is as obviously as one can be an Estonian" and when you don't this persons real name.
I guess its also quite balanced personification, if not to consider genders and minorities.

plasma-jack ütles ...

my guess would be the guy on the old-school tinderbox

McMad ütles ...

If we talk about national personification a la Uncle Sam then only suitable candidate must be Kalevipoeg.

Personification of an "Average Estonian" is something completely different. For starters such personifications are often negative, for example every smug European sees average American as Bubba the Inbred Redneck.
Mats Hobusega wont do for sure, for the simple reason that this character is suitable for most European nations, just change Mats to Jan, Jon, Heinz etc. Dutch equivalent would be Jan Boer. Calling someone "boer" (farmer) is very negative. When someone acts uncivilized, impolite, then that behavior is called acting "boers" (farmer-like).

LPR ütles ...

Estonia is a state of mind. It is elusive as it is permanent.

Kristopher ütles ...

My vote is for the various Kaval Ants and Rehepapp characters, by a mile -- they sum up the craftiness of the Estonian peasant and are much more Estonian than that not too bright galoot of an epic hero Kalevipoeg.

I think Andrus Kivirähk has done the best job at getting at this -- in Rehepapp and other writings. Not always flatteringly, true. Not something the Foreign Ministry would want to use as the mascot of Estonia. But very original.

I love the idea of the "kratt" (a kratt being a sort of a golem, except one used not just to do chores at the manor, but steal things from people, and one with no stop button)... No other culture has it.

LPR ütles ...

The entire concept of 'kratt' is quite embarrassing.

Anonüümne ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Anonüümne ütles ...

I personally really like Timbu Limbu who is like from these 70's and 80's children's books. She is sort of like a crazy anime character and she fights witches... it might be like having little orphan annie or the powerpuff girls as the symbol of Estonia, but Timbu Limbu needs some love.

Rein Kuresoo ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Unknown ütles ...

Soon it will be Ants Vihmandi and the brand new BMW 7 Series

Tanel ütles ...

Well, first there is no perquisite that the "average person" in every nation or in every language must be a negative symbol. Secondly, I would also give big doubts to understanding that it would be so in even a majority of cases.
In the case of Estonia it actually even so that most of the people seem to consider the average Estonian to be incredibly intelligent (with or without any good reason).

The idea on average Estonian is not the same but it helps to explain what I meant. Also Kalevipoeg or any heroic personification seems too artificial for Estonia, but Kivirähk's characters might actually be quite in place. I would stick to Rehepapp himself.
E.g what was the first official comment from the state to the people after the "sugar fine" issue came up after joining EU? "We have nothing to worry about! They can not prove it!" Quite common perspective around here I guess :)

PS! The peasant in Estonia is not the same the peasant in most of the European countries as here the both nobility and peasantry had ethnic connotation.

LPR ütles ...

Nothing compares to that Lembit character from "Malev".

He could easily be that Rehepapp after losing his country and women to the invaders.

Sad to say, but more than anything, Rehepapp summarizes us Estonians the best.

mats ütles ...

Mats is the right choice! Mats - "ürgperemees". It has roots and is authentical. Actually, there is no different meanings for Mats. What is different comes from use of that name. When people use that name differently, in bad or proud meaning, they position themselves differently. Proud use of Mats comes from those estonians who have ethnical and ideological roots back in hundreds of years, or even thousands.- As estonians formed out from other fenno-ungri some 2..3000 years ago. Those who use that name in bad meaning, position themselves back only some .. hundred years. Back in "mõisa-aeg". They have ethnical roots, they speak estonian but no ideological roots. They represent mõisakultuur, plus a lot of soviet influences and like to call themselves "modern estonians". They clearly feel distance from historical estonian. I personally have had that name Mats for over 30 years and Im very sensitive to that issue. I can say that name Mats is going through hardest times now. In soviet time it had much wider proud meaning, as the estonians were under occupation. Classical Mats vs Baltic Germans or other occupant thing. In the time of Singing Revolution it had much prouder meaning than in soviet time, but this proudness started to fade. Past 2000 the proudness has faded a lot and is clearly a lot lower than in soviet time. It has much to do with modern estonian self-esteem. They want to belong in better culture, classy people. They are ashame of primitive nordic background. Baltic Germans started to humiliate them. They started that bad nickname Mats.
Weaker estonians broke down and are in majority now.
You can find less mats from Tallinn, then you can find estonians from Narva. Very sad! Proud meaning is still alive in countryside and further from Tallinn. Like South -Estonia, West-Estonia and other regions with great spirit and good historycal memory.
Like some have said before me, it is very similar to american "nigger". While "nigger" has proud meaning among black americans, Mats has mostly only bad meaning among majority of estonians. This is giving clear picture where we are heading and future of historycal estonian.
Yes we are dying out, but lets die with proud :) !
So Mats is a good choice for average estonian, when you mean estonian as nationality not only a citizenship.

Anonüümne ütles ...

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