“Maurice’s Strategikon” – Part 3

As a conclusion of a series of posts about the “Maurice’s Strategikon”, see below a note on the famous Slavic hospitality 😀🎂🍽🥂, as well as the ancient art of disguise, which the author considered important and necessary to mention.

“They are kind and hospitable to travelers in their country and conduct them safely from one place to another, wherever they wish. If the stranger should suffer some harm because of his host’s negligence, the one who first commended him will wage war against that host, regarding vengeance for the stranger as a religious duty.”

“Their experience in crossing rivers surpasses that of all other men, and they are extremely good at spending a lot of time in the water. Often enough when they are in their own country and are caught by surprise and in a tight spot, they dive to the bottom of a body of water. There they take long, hollow reeds they have prepared for such a situation and hold them in their mouths, the reeds extending to the surface of the water. Lying on their backs on the bottom they breathe through them and hold out for many hours without anyone suspecting where they are. An inexperienced person who notices the reeds from above would simply think they were growing there in the water.”

For more interesting facts refer to the source: “Maurice’s Strategikon: Handbook of Byzantine Military Strategy”, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001

Стратегикон Маврикия

The “Maurice’s Strategikon” – Part 1

The “Maurice’s Strategikon” is one of the earliest sources about the Slavs. The creation of this Byzantine military handbook is attributed to the emperor of Mauritius in the late 6th – early 7th centuries.

The ” Strategikon ” pays much more attention to the Slavs than to other nations and considers them as a strong military enemy of the empire. First of all, it talks about the tribes that lived on the northern bank of the Danube. From this source, we can learn a lot of interesting facts about our Slavic ancestors.

“The nations of the Slavs and the Antes live in the same way and have the same customs. They are both independent, absolutely refusing to be enslaved or governed, least of all in their own land. They are populous and hardy, bearing readily heat, cold, rain, nakedness, and scarcity of provisions.”

“They do not keep those who are in captivity among them in perpetual slavery, as do other nations. But they set a definite period of time for them and then give them the choice either, if they so desire, to return to their own homes with a small recompense or to remain there as free men and friends.”

To be continued…

Стратегикон

Pants in Slavic tradition – Part 2

The old photograph of the last century depicts a barefoot Russian peasant who sows linen, while carrying seeds in his pants instead of a bag or basket. Why do you think he is doing it like that?

This ancient Slavic tradition of ensuring the plentiful harvest of flax came to us thanks to the Soviet anti-religious propaganda marked as “savage ritual” 🙂 So what is really shown on the picture?

The producing fertility power was attributed to the pants, so they were constantly used in maternity, wedding, agricultural and cattle breeding ceremonies by Slavs. In the Ryazan region, while sowing, the owner carried seeds in his own pants. Polish people believed that “double” ears (spica) could grow from grains passed through the pants of the sower. In Kaluga region cannabis seeds were poured into special pants so that cannabis would be stronger, these pants were carried on the shoulder, and after sowing, they were hung in a barn on a high hook – so that cannabis “would be poured to the top”. By the way, hemp/cannabis was used to make the best ropes very popular among the sailors and at some point, Russia was supplying the whole world with these ropes for ships 😉

To attract grooms and matchmakers to the village, in the Volga region around New Year people stole pants from someone’s backyard where clothes were drying, and then dragged them around the village. In Polesie, a family which had a girl of marriageable age, would draw a circle around their house with pants, so the girl would get married. Men’s pants were tied to the table during the matchmaking, so that the bride would agree to marry.

Source: “Slavic Antiquities” – encyclopedic dictionary in 5 volumes by Institute for Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Photo: Museum fund of Russia https://goskatalog.ru/

Sowing

Pants in Slavic tradition – Part 1

Pants today are a common attribute of clothing for adults and children, but this was not always the case. According to Slavic tradition, both girls and boys wore only a long shirt up to 5-8 years old.

The boys were given their first pants as a symbol of maturity and coming into an age. Usually, this was coincided with a big holiday. For example, in Serbia, the boys would put on their first pants and tie them with a belt on St. George’s Day (Ђурђевдан), which was a celebration of fertility and marked the final awakening of nature and the beginning of the agriculture season. In Bulgaria, the boys received a special blessing for wearing pants from their godfather. The Russians believed that making the first pants could predetermine the fate of a child. Therefore, the mother had to make the first pants for her son in one sitting, so that he would subsequently be successful in all his affairs, got easily engaged with a bride, etc.

Pants often served as a talisman. In Polesie region, to protect livestock from plague, people would drag pants along the spine of an animal. On the Kupala night, pants were hung on the gates to protect home against witches. Eyes of pigs and cows were rubbed with men’s pants, so they would not be afraid of any curse.

In the Yaroslavl region, if a woman had newborn children dying, then the “midwife babka” was to ensure that the next child was delivered directly into the father’s pants so that baby would have a long life. In some other places, among Russians, it was customary immediately after birth to wrap a child in dirty father’s pants so that he would be healthy and enjoy the love of his father in the future.

To be continued…

Slavic pants

Forest in the Slavic tradition – Part 2.

Numerous traditional medicine magical practices are associated with the forest. Also, the forest is the habitat of demons and the place where people interact with “dark forces”. In order to find out the cause of an illness from the Leshy, the healers in Olonets region went to the forest, found a rowan tree, split its trunk in half and left inside a letter for Leshy with questions.

We continue to familiarize you with the customs and beliefs of the ancient Slavic people, while working on the animated fantasy comic book series. In such posts, as if jumping forward in time, we shed light upon and help to understand the events that will occur in our story … 😉

In the Northern Russia, on the day of Ivan Kupala, before sunrise, women went into the forest and made a “treasured” broomstick, which brought prosperity to the house. According to the beliefs of Slavs of Polish Pomerania, a person who dares to go into the forest on Easter night, approach a birch tree going backwards, and then break a branch – will get a magic wand.

The question of gathering herbs in the forest on Kupala night in the XVII century was included in the Christian confession: “Did you dance or do anything outrageous before the John the Baptist holiday? Did you go to the forest to collect herbs and roots?” (Almazov A. “Secret Confession in the Orthodox Eastern Church”, 1894)

Source: “Slavic Antiquities” – encyclopedic dictionary in 5 volumes by Institute for Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.