Old chronicles and documents contain a great deal of information
about the bagpipe as a hugely popular instrument, which
had probably become familiar as early as the 14th century. The
bagpipe was played for dancing, and the bagpiper was an essential
figure in following the customs at weddings and many other
According to some sources, bagpipe players were occasionally
exempted from working for the manor lords, although they had
to undertake the so-called bagpipe days. In order to make people
work faster, a bagpipe player was brought to the field, where
he followed the harvesters all day and played his pipe. When he
noticed someone slowing down or not doing the job properly
he would stop by the person and produce sounds with his
instrument as if a pig had got stuck somewhere or was in trouble.
This would at once attract attention and laughter from other
workers in the field.
Juhan Maaker, or 'Bagpipe-Juss' (1845-1930), was certainly one
of the most popular players. He was an excellent musician, and
was called the king of bagpipe players. He was also a good talker,
always kind and jolly. In his younger years Juss's men from
Hiiumaa regularly transported firewood to Tallinn on their sailboats.
The wood was either purchased or felled on private land.
There was a lot of forested land in Hiiumaa at that time.
Bagpipe-Juss was always the first to get rid of his goods. He
would climb on top of a pile of wood and declare in a loud
voice: "Who buys firewood from me, will get a piece of bagpipe
music free!" Only when he had sold all his wood were the
others able to start trading theirs.
Cätlin Jaago (1979) graduated from the Viljandi Culture
Academy in 2002. Plays Estonian bagpipe, jew's harp, whistle
and flute. Teaches at Viljandi Culture Academy and Viljandi
Music School for Children.