Facing the Wind

Hiiumaa is one of the few rural parts of Estonia where the old practice of wind monitoring is still alive. In ancient times, the wind was allegedly influenced by whistling or unravelling wind barbs. The famous barbs can still be seen on the county’s coat of arms. Over the past few years, Hiiumaa Museum has been trying to find and record local wind vanes. By studying them we have learned that local craftsmen sought examples from church towers (such as roosters) and big cities (Old Toomas in Tallinn), but mostly from nature (swans), everyday things (cars) and familiar activities (fishing, boating, etc.). Older farm vanes on Hiiumaa were mostly made of wood and later also metal. You can take a closer look at the display to see what materials were used to make the vanes. The cardboard stencils of the vanes made by high school students add a touch of feeling. The jewel in the exhibition’s crown, however, is an egg from the tower of Reigi Church from 1801 with details of the wind vane.

While the history of the world’s wind vanes dates back thousands of years, the oldest reports of vanes on Hiiumaa come from as late as the 18th century.

Curator: Helgi Põllo
Design of photo and information stands: Urmas Liit

Please note: The fascinating wind vanes forming part of the museum’s collection can also be seen in the “Life of the island. Fire, water, Air, Earth,” exhibition at Kassari Museum House.