Decked in the finely-crafted silver jewellery that symbolises her tiny minority, folk-singer Oie Sarv hums a refrain and reflects on what centuries of tradition mean in the Internet age.
Estonia's Seto, a group of only 15,000 in this Baltic nation of 1.3 million, are struggling to keep their way of life alive as young people leave their close-knit communities to seek new opportunities.
For many of the estimated 2,000 who live in what is known as Setoland, a cluster of villages in southeast Estonia, tradition is key.
Sarv, 56, is a folklore expert and one of the best-known practitioners of the "leelo", an ancient polyphonic singing style that in 2009 was recognised by UNESCO for its value to the world's heritage.
"The leelo is part of our lives, we sing on all kind of occasions, both joyful and sorrowful," Sarv told AFP in Obinitsa, her home village which lies some 280 kilometres (170 miles) from the Estonian capital Tallinn.
"The most famous singers in the first half of last century were able to sing up to 20,000 rhymes. The leelo also helps us to keep our ancient language alive," she said.
The origins of the Seto are shrouded in mystery.
Some suggest that the Seto were a separate group from among the Finno-Ugric tribes who settled across eastern Europe 5,000-8,000 years ago and gave birth to the modern Finns, Estonians and Hungarians.
But pointing to similarities between Seto and the southern Estonian Voru dialect, most experts consider them to be ethnic Estonians whom historical peculiarities formed into a distinct culture.
For example, the Seto are staunchly Orthodox, because their home region was under Russian rule for centuries.
Most of the rest of Estonia was long controlled by Catholic and Protestant Germans and Swedes, before being conquered by Tsarist Russia in the early 18th century.
Traditional Seto homes have an icon corner with a candle, where the residents can pray, while their villages boast a distinctive wooden chapel.
Some of their ways tap even deeper roots.
The tribes in Estonia only converted to Christianity from the 13th century onwards
Pagan rites remained powerful for another 500 years, and remain folded into the Seto's faith.
During religious holidays, they gather in cemeteries to honour their ancestors. To make sure the departed know they have been there, they sing leelos, walk over the grave and eat food, some of which they leave for the souls of the dead.
Estonia emerged as an independent state as the Russian empire fell during World War I, but was swallowed up by the Soviet Union during World War II and only regained its freedom in 1991 when the communist bloc crumbled.
During the Soviet era, the Seto's lot was tough in an anti-religious state.
Prevailing attitudes to their strong cultural identity were negative, and speaking Seto in schools was banned.
"The good thing is that since Estonia regained independence in 1991 the general attitude towards Setos has got better. While in Soviet time the word Seto seemed to mean you were a bit bizarre, today introducing yourself as a Seto sounds like an honour," said Aare Poolak, 46, head of the local administration.
"I'm fully Seto and very proud of it," Poolak told AFP.
But the post-Soviet freedom to flourish has been far from perfect.
"In 15 years the population of Mikitamae county -- one of the Setoland counties -- has decreased from 1,500 to 1,000," said Poolak.
"Many men from our county have to work in Finland, 400 kilometres away, because of a lack of jobs here. And many young people have left permanently because entertainment like theatres and cinemas are far away and expensive to reach," he added.
Seto living elsewhere in Estonia, or abroad, flock to their ancestral home for religious festivals and secular vacations.
Some decide to stay, including singer Sarv and her son Ants, 28, who a decade ago moved from Tallinn to a life rich in old ways and free of city stress.
Ants has since trained as a craftsman, turning out the heavy silver jewellery, some six kilos (13 pounds) of which decks a Seto women's traditional costume.
He says he has no regrets about returning to his rural roots.
"In nature, time passes differently, more slowly. The ancient culture of our ancestors in turn teaches us wisdom that makes it easier to live."