On the 7 December 2022 at the celebration in the Estonian War Museum to mark the 134th anniversary of Maria Laidoner, the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Tallinn gave Mrs Sirje Karis, First Lady of the Republic of Estonia a symbolic award, Maria’s jabot for promoting Polish culture, art, and history in Estonia.
As the director of the University of Tartu Museum, Estonian History Museum and Tartu City Museum Mrs Karis had a long-term cooperation with representatives of Polish museums and archives. She made a significant contribution to celebrating the 100th anniversary of the restoration of the independence of Poland. The exhibition titled „Polish-Estonian Relations 1918–1939: in the Light of Estonian Archival Materials“ was compiled by the National Archives of Estonia and was opened in the Film Museum of the Estonian History Museum on 4 February 2018 as part of the Niepodległa celebrations and the centenary of the independence of Estonia. The celebrations came to an end in the Pärnu Concert Hall on 2 December 2022 with the world premiere of “Estonian Symphony” by Marcin Masecki, celebrating the 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Republics of Estonia and Poland.
„Mrs Karis is the very embodiment of competence, commitment, diligence, elegance, and hospitality, she has excellent organisational skills and knows how to present her people and their friends in Poland. These same qualities also characterised Maria Kruszewska-Laidoner, a great lady, a prominent social figure herself, and an indispensable support to her husband, the statesman,“ Ambassador of the Republic of Poland Grzegorz Kozłowski said, handing the award over at the traditional salon concert dedicated to the 134th anniversary of Maria Kruszewska-Laidoner at the Estonian War Museum – General Laidoner Museum in Viimsi on 7 December.
Photo: Sirje Karis Facebook
The award was created by the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Tallinn in 2018, to mark the centenary of the Republic of Estonia and of the restoration of the independence of Poland. The jabot is awarded to recognise women who are committed to the development of relations between Estonia and Poland and furthering the Polish cultural and historical heritage in Estonia, following the example of Maria Kruszewska-Laidoner. The goal of the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland is to grant one hundred jabots to one hundred distinguished women who are promoting Poland in Estonia. The jabot for Mrs Karis was made by the Polish lacemaker and actress Monika Paśnik-Petryczenko. She re-created the pattern and shape of the jabot from a photo of Maria and Johan Laidoner.
The first recipient of the jabot was President of the Republic Kersti Kaljulaid during the centenary of the Republic of Estonia.
The renowned pianist Krzysztof Książek played Fryderyk Chopin at the concert to mark the anniversary of Maria Kruszewska-Laidoner at the Viimsi Museum on 7 December. The salon concert was jointly organised by the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Tallinn, the Estonian War Museum – General Laidoner Museum, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of Poland and the Warsaw Fryderyk Chopin Institute.
Maria Kruszewska-Laidoner (1888–1978) was the wife of general Johan Laidoner, she was Polish, an erudite, pianist, and before the outbreak of WWII she also performed the role of the First Lady. Maria was an influential figure in the cultural and social life of Estonia between the world wars. She also introduced fashion trends. Jabots were an inseparable part of her attire. During the years of Soviet occupation, she upheld the aspirations for freedom of the Estonian people. In this light she took great care of each detail of her clothing – a white jabot brought out the blue and black colours of the rest of the apparel, which seen together, would point to the colours of the Estonian national flag.
Mrs Sirje Karis at the Estonian War Museum, 7.12.2022
Photo: Ruwe Saare / Estonian War Museum