History of Mulgimaa

Where does the word ’Mulk’ come from?

We do not know and will probably never know exactly where the word ’Mulk’ comes from. There are oral legends about a place called mulk (a hole) through which the robbers arrived and through which they were chased back (Eduard Vääri, 2000). There are not many folk tales about Sakala people travelling south. Apparently mulk became such an important place on the road that people living  nearby it were called „mulgutagused“ (those behind the mulk) or „mulguäärsed“ (those by the mulk) (Vääri, 2000). 

General Jaan Soots claimed in 1934 that "mulk" is not a Latvian name but comes from Arabic meaning  a "lord" or a "master." 
Voldemar Kiinoja writes that Mulks are actually the descendants of ancient Sakala people and Mulgimaa consists of eight parishes: Halliste, Helme, Karksi, Kõpu, Paistu, Suure-Jaani, Tarvastu and Viljandi. Thus, mulks are these people whose parents and ancestors were native inhabitants of these parishes. Even more bizarre is the argument that Mulks are vain and wealthy.    This honour belongs to the inhabitants of North Estonia and Tallinn.

However, several well-known Estonian cultural figures and resistance fighters have their roots in Mulgimaa. It all began with the famous Lembitu.

The generals at the time of  the Estonian Independence War were Johan Laidoner, Paul Adolf Lill, Jaan Soots, Johan Unt, Gustav Jonson, Aleksander Jaakson, Jaan Maide, there were also sanitary major general Hans Leemets and many senior officers. Only two women were awarded the Cross of Liberty – they were Salme Bergman-Ilmet and Alma Vares, and they  both were from Mulgimaa. The Estonian state leaders Jaan Tõnisson, Ants Piip, Jüri Jaakson, Friedrich Akel were all from Mulgimaa. Adolf Birk was also elected but he did not govern. The father of Konstantin Päts was also of Mulgi origin.

Many Estonian writers are from Mulgimaa or of Mulgi origin, starting from Kristjan Jaak Peterson (whose father was a Mulk).
The Soviet regime persecuted much more Mulks than other Estonians. The reason was that Mulks had a stronger love of freedom, sense of patriotism, thirst for education and independent thinking. The occupants feared that the history will repeat and a new national awakening will start in Mulgimaa as the national leaders of the national awakening were mostly Mulks. The propaganda of the occupation time set other Estonians against Mulks and they were successful – the consequences are still deeply felt today…