Handicraft

Handicraft – näpotüü – has been a part of Seto life throughout history, as everything that was needed had to be made by hand. Men skilfully wielded axes and were well-known beyond the borders of Setomaa as woodworkers who built houses or small psalteries, or an ornate piece of cabinetry inspired by urban fashions. Handicraft skills were esteemed among women; it was a very important criterion for one’s chances of a good husband. Weaving skills were particularly important as a family’s sartorial futures depended on it. Seto women were celebrated in verse as weaving until the entire house shook, cast yarn so that the house resonated. Their speed and skill are legendary.

Over the years, women from Setomaa have woven very intricate and appealing mittens and high-quality textiles. Nowadays all of these types of articles can be bought in a store, but very few people are able to match the skills of a Seto woman from a century ago. There is an attempt to hand down the fine handicraft skills of Setomaa from generation to generation – Seto craftswomen have managed to reclaim such nearly forgotten techniques such as Seto bobbin lace.