"One goose makes two sounds."
cätlin jaago

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 significant occasions.

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.

ESTONIAN CULTURE 2/2005 (6) · ISSN 1406-8478