Images of Estonian people a hundred years ago

170 ethnographic photographs of Estonian people captured by seven reputable photographers active before 1940

This book of photographs is a compilation of images by renowned Estonian photographers before World War II, captured with a sincere desire to perpetuate the cultural heritage of their people and native country. However, all of these photographers were much more than mere documenters. They were committed to Estonian national culture, creatively and naturally employing their mastered medium of photography in its service. They have photographed Estonian people as an artistic challenge, but perhaps also from a sense of responsibility towards the people of their time as well as future generations.


As a collaboration between Tallinn City Museum and Tänapäev Publishers, the 208-page hard-cover album includes 170 ethnographic photographs taken by seven renowned professional photographers, who all played an important role in the history of Estonian culture before 1940:

Charles Borchardt (1834–1892), one of the great figures of the Estonian National Awakening and the best-known photographer of Tallinn in the 19th century;

Reinhold Sachker (1844–1919), who was the first Estonian to open a photographic studio, which he did in Tartu in 1869;

Otto Eduard Buhgan (1859–1942), one of the first local photographers of Kuressaare in the early 20th century;

Heinrich Tiidermann (1863–1904), whose principal interest was cultural heritage;

Carl Oswald Bulla (1855–1929), photographer of the court of the Russian Emperor who later moved to Sõrve;

Georg-Johannes Parikas (1880–1958) and Peeter Parikas (1889–1972), who became well-known photographers and publishers from the beginning of their career; and
Carl Sarap (1893–1942), whose series of 10 photographic postcards, “Beautiful Homeland” was used as illustrative study material in schools.


From the Tallinn City Museum team, Anneli Jalava, Tanel Verk, Triinu Tuvi and Merilis Roosalu contributed to the creation of the book published by Tänapäev Publishers.


Eesti rahva rõivad (Estonian Folk Costumes)
Tänapäev Publishers
Compiled by Anneli Jalava
Designed by Andres Tali
Edited by Mari Karlson


The hard-cover book is on sale at the Museum of Photography and Tallinn City Museum for €24.

Peek inside the book:
Eesti rahva rõivad