Kihnu Kultuuri Instituut

Welcome to Kihnu and Manõja Islands!

Kihnu and Manõja islands are a home for the indigenous Kihnu culture that has prevailed on the coastal islands of Pärnu region longer than six hundred years. Kihnu men work at sea but the work on land is left for women. Kihnu people speak the „singing“ dialect of the Estonian language, calling it proudly the Kihnu language.

Half a thousand of Kihnu population and around 35 people of Manõja Island are thankful to UNESCO for having recognised their indigenous culture and added it to the list of intangible heritage of indigenous cultures of the huanity. It enjoins the Kihnu people to preserve their ancient traditions especially carefully, the most vivid of which is the three-day wedding and many other important traditions and rituals followed on St, John´s Midsummer Night, St. Martinus´ Day, St. Catherine`s Day etc.

The brightest of the famous people of Kihnu Island are surely Kihnu Jõnn (Enn Uuetoa, 1848-1913), the legendary captain, who steered his ships without any compass, and Karjamua Juaen (Jaan Oad, 1899-1984) whose canvases of naive painting show centuries of Kihnu Island`s history.

The most famous of the present day Kihnu people is Järsumäe Virve (Virve Köster, born in 1928) whose songs are loved all over Estonia. In her family ensemble there are four generations of joyous musicians who sing about the sea and love!

Apart from taking care of the children and the fields, the women of Kihnu have always found time for handicraft. There are many women, older and younger whose stockings, mittens, trois, skirts, blankets, bonnets, blouses and jackets are especially masterful, the most famous of them is Ärmä Roosi (Rosaali Karjam). The messages of their foremothers in the woven, knitted and embroidered handicraft are passed on to the future generatios.

Thanks to inherent solidarity Kihnu culture has been resistant to the pressure of contemporary media and globalisation. Kihnu culture is protected by the principle that everyone has to give the best for the survival of their ancestors` heritage.

1386 – The first written record of Kihnu (Kyne)
1560 – The first written record of Manõja (Holm Manne)
1933 – Manõja Island got inhabited by Kihnu people
2003 – Recognition of the entangible heritage (the nature of the islands, traditional lifestyle, folklore) of the Kihnu Cultural Space by UNESCO

Address Kihnu Kultuuri Instituut, Esplanaadi 10, 80010 Pärnu, Eesti.     |     Telephone +372 4430772     |     E-mail