Summer AS XLV (2010)
Volume XV, Issue 4 (#58)

Photos by Petr Kotok and Paul Wickenden

Greetings from Slavic University III!

From the Nachalnik

Shortly after the Spring issue of Slovo came out, the folks down in the Shire of Sylvan Glen hosted the third Slavic University. I had the privilege to be there and had a great time (see my write up below). One of the things I tried to talk up a lot during the event was the importance of keeping this tradition going. I'd be particularly interested in seeing the next University take place on the West Coast because we need to capture a different demographic. However, I really don't care where it is held, just as long as we have it again!

One tradition which does seem to have taken hold firmly is our Pennsic gathering. The Annual Slavic Interest Group meeting at Pennsic 39 will be held on Tuesday, August 10th in AS10 at 4pm. Come join us and bring your related projects, research, books and a side dish or beverage to share. Sfandra Dmitrieva will be leading the meeting.


Slavic University

By Paul Wickenden of Thanet

For those able to make it, there was a great time to be had at the third Slavic University, hosted by the Shire of Sylvan Glen on April 10, 2010. The weather was gorgeous and sunny as I drove my borrowed stead up from Storvik. We suffered a bit from low attendance because of scheduling conflicts with almost every Kingdom in the Known World (it was a popular date for coronations!).

The class offerings were stimulating. I was pleased to attend Sfandra's Kievan history class (a one-hour marathon through several centuries of blood thirsty princes and princesses) and Mordak's classes on making cloth shoes and his Rus clothing fest, as well as dropping in the gerdany class. I missed Russian icons, Hussar armor, zupans, and Lithuanian history, but heard good things about these classes as well! The notes from most of the classes have been posted online and are available at .

The Shire's people were great hosts and put out a great spread for both lunch and dinner. I missed the post-revel as I had to return down to Storvik that evening, but I assume that everyone survived and found their way home afterwards!

You can find more photos from the event at .


Pennsic Classes

By Paul Wickenden of Thanet

Listed below is my annual survey of Pennsic classes with a Slavic or Eastern European theme. I hope that those of you who are going to Pennsic this year will attend these classes, both to support the instructors as well as to learn more and share the knowledge. I compiled this list from the advanced posting of classes on the Pennsic website ( http:// ) and I may have missed some classes. My apologies for any omissions.


Thursday, August 5

3pm – Slavic Material Culture . Medieval Slavic material culture based on archaeological discoveries in Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, Macedonia, etc. Topics include pottery wares, glassware, coinage, textiles, metal, bone, diet, houses, burials, etc. Handouts include drawings of artifacts published in obscure archaeological journals. Class taught by an archaeologist working with medieval sites in the Republic of Macedonia and in the Middle East. Lord Michael of Safita.


Saturday, August 7

3pm – Smackdown of the Teutonic Knights: The 600th Anniversary of the Battle of Grunwald. O n July 15, 1410, the Lithuanian and Polish armies massed against the Teutonic Knights for a decisive battle that would change the map of Eastern Europe. Learn how the mighty knights went down in defeat and how the results echoed down through the ages. Lady Patricia of Trakai.


Sunday, August 8

1pm – Early Russian Clothing. A look at early Russian clothing from the 10th to the 13th centuries. Learn about the pieces, finishes, ornaments, and accessories. Examples will be shown, and handouts available. Baroness Sfandra Dmitrieva.

4pm – Icon & Panel Painting, Part 1 . An introduction to the ancient art of Byzantine icons, also known as icon writing- theology in line and color. An in-depth overview of history, symbolism, and technique. Part I is lecture, part II hands-on. Lady Dosalena Sophia della Mirandola.

5pm – Survey of Medieval Lithuania . In 1400 CE, Lithuania was the biggest nation in Europe. This class will cover history from tribal culture to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, plus clothing, names and other subjects as time permits. Lady Patricia of Trakai.


Monday, August 9

9am – Pearl Embroidery & Embellishments - Part 1 Preparing Your Fabric & Getting Started . Make an all-in-one pouch that teaches you several different techniques of beading and embellishment in one design. First of three classes needed to complete project. Baronessa Anna Bella di Cherubino.

10am – How to Construct a Byzantine Headroll - A Non-Costumer's Perspective . While trying to make a headroll, I discovered that there was little information and fewer examples on how to do it. Come learn an interpretive way of constructing a headroll with ZERO wastage and that even non-costumers can do (being one myself)! Handout with complete theory & instructions available. Lord Corwyn MacCamie

10am – Russian: Slavic Shamanistic Beliefs . Overview of Slavic shamanistic beliefs that folk may wish to incorporate into their persona. Marija Kotok

4pm – Icon & Panel Painting, Part 2 . Hands-on class using egg tempera, precursor to oil paint, using egg yolk and mineral pigments. Part II to Icon lecture on Sunday. Lady Dosalena Sophia della Mirandola


Tuesday, August 10

9am – Pearl Embroidery & Embellishments - Part 2 Historical and Contemporary Techniques. This project creates an all-in-one pouch that teaches you several different techniques of beading and embellishment in one design. Second of three classes needed to complete project. Baronessa Anna Bella di Cherubino.

4pm – Slavic Interest Group Meeting. Come join us and bring your related projects, research, books and a side dish or beverage to share. Baroness Sfandra Dmitrieva.


Wednesday, August 11

9am – Pearl Embroidery & Embellishments - Part 3 Completion of Pouch. This project creates an all-in-one pouch that teaches several different techniques of beading and embellishment in one design. Third of three classes needed to complete project. Baronessa Anna Bella di Cherubino

9am – Khazar Life . This class will cover clothing, education, religion and life of the Khazars who lived in the region of the Khazar Sea, now called the Caspian. Noted for the high level of education, tolerance of all faiths, elected government, arts, trade, and fierceness in battle. The Khazars were a bulwark to the flow of Islam into Europe and slowed the movement of the Rus (Vikings) into the south. Will cover the period from 750-1100AD. Baron Khadir bar Yosef Ha-Kuzari

12pm – Khazar 101 . This class is a top level survey and will cover clothing, education, religion, history and life of the Khazars. Will cover the period from 650-1100AD. Baron Khadir bar Yosef Ha-Kuzari

1pm – Ukrainian Bead Netting . Learn gerdany - a single-string bead netting technique that originated in the Ukraine in the 16th century. Students may purchase materials to make a basic collar gerdan in class. (2 hrs) Baroness Sfandra Dmitrieva

4pm – Smackdown of the Teutonic Knights. [Repeat of 8/7 class – see above]


Thursday, August 12

9am – The Khazar Persona . Course will cover the basics of creating a Khazar persona identifying locations, time, culture, clothing and basic history relevant for an SCA persona. Baron Khadir bar Yosef Ha-Kuzari

12pm – Early Russian Clothing. [Repeat of 8/8 class – see above]

2pm – Early Russian History . A look at the formation of the Russian nation and its history - social, economic, and political - until the burning of Kiev by Mongol forces in 1240AD. Baroness Sfandra Dmitrieva

3pm – Slavic Material Culture. [Repeat of 8/5 class – see above]


Friday, August 13

5pm – Conversational Russian . Introduction to modern day conversational Russian. We will go over the alphabet, phrases used in everyday life as well as some useful SCA related phrases. Lada Monguligin


Tales of Old Rus

By Mordok Timofeivich Rostovskogo


A New Warrior's Epic Byliny

A strange twisty path for a boy from a village,
That brings me to this place of whistling arrows.
Where now the tales of glory in the thunder of Mongol hooves,
Where now the boasts of bravery in this packed levy of armored men,
A battlefield of fear, some already fallen.

My armor it drags me, holding me in place,
My shield it protects me, but prevents my escape,
My helm it protects me, but blinds me from myself,
My axe it hangs useless, trapped snugly in my belt,
My spear against me, a sharp tipped forest of iron.

For this I dreamed of glory, defeated enemies strewn across the steppe,
For this I walked endlessly, a sea of grass to each side,
For this I left hearth and home, my father's fields growing in the sun,
For dreams of glory and bravery, shining steel and deeds not yet done,
For this I stand here now in a storm of grunts and screams and blood.

My only field now a crop of arrows, left standing in the sun,
Laughing campmates mostly quiet now, some harvested by fate,
We share a serenade of Mongol hooves and watch our nobles ride away,
A brotherhood of glorious tales, now stranded in the sun,
A crop of heroes, much thinner now, we stand awaiting our fate.

I awake in darkness, a great weight crushing, wondering if I live,
The glow of campfires, distantly twinkling, like stars on the steppe,
In glory I squirm out from under a comrade, unmoving in the night,
How bravely they lay silent now, in a field of dreams and arrows spent,
How epic my story as I fearfully escape, my throat choked in fright.

In darkness foreign voices, laughing in the night,
My comrades stay behind me, a silent witness to my flight,
How brave my tale as a warrior, none to witness my sad plight,
An epic byliny of my honor, a lone survivor by first light,
With luck I'll stumble home, wiser and much thinner, a new tale to recite.


A Beggar's Noble Profession

A herd of shoes pass by me, their owners brightly clad,
A flock wrapped in fine plumage, their charity to be had.
Sometimes a bright coin flashes overhead to land in my chipped bowl,
Sometimes a curse greets me, a shove or a kick,
But still all day I sit here beseeching, just another of the crippled or sick.

Two merchants haggle nearby, their voices raised in debate,
Their subtle dance a swirl of words, of cost, of worth and fate.
Both richly dressed and warmly shod, fine examples of their trade,
And me just mere paces away, dressed in my pathetic rags,
With outstretched hand, on crippled legs and smile at their brags.

Another drunkard stumbles by, unsteady on his feet,
Another meal for tavern keeper, street guard or prowling thief.
Another time I'll see him, clothes traded away for just another drink,
Another time I'll see his comrades, sprawled out in the street,
Never a coin for a beggar, with drink I can't compete.

A mother she passes by me, her flock follows her in tow,
Like goose and tiny goslings, their small faces and small caftans, strung out in a row.
No coins to be had there, only curses and a kick,
Her brood owns her silver grivna s, for them she only pays,
Below her notice dirty beggars, not with her busy days.

As darkness finally settles, and shadows grow so long,
I feel the call of my own roof, the place where I belong.
With hearth and wife with our family, and bubbling pot of stew,
I bundle up my ragged clothes and slip into the night,
In finer plumage home I go, no ragged beggar, at least until first light.


Book Reviews

•  A. Kiurshunova. Slovar' nekalendarnykh lichnykh imen, prozvishch i famil'nykh prozvanii severo-zapadnoi rusi XV-XVII vv. [Dictionary of Non-Calendar Personal Names, Nicknames, and Familial Sobriquets of Northwestern Rus 15 th -17 th Cent.] Saint Petersburg: Dmitrii Bulanin, 2010.

One of the major weaknesses of my own Dictionary of Period Russian Names is that, while it contains a great number of names, it does not really say much about any of them. My focus when I collected the data for that project was always quantity and variety and the idea of actually providing definitions and derivations was always a secondary task. In fairness, most Russian books on the subject of names also tend to focus on accumulating long lists, without any attempt at dissecting meanings. A notable exception is Unbegaun's Russian Surnames , but that was written by a Westerner.

And so, Kiurshunova's new book is a welcome addition to medieval onomastics. While only covering a single region and containing fewer than 2000 entries, it provides a level of detail unparalleled in the discipline. A typical entry for a name will contain its grammatical derivation (whether it is a given name or a word), several examples of its usage with dates and reference to the original source, and then a detailed discussion of the meaning (including multiple entries if the name could plausibly come from multiple sources). The documentation is heavy on dates and citations to primary sources. It is, in sum, dream documentation for anyone trying to register a Russian name.

Written in Russian, the author assumes that the reader understands the modern meanings of most words, so this is not a book to use if you're trying to find a name that means “X” (rather, the intent is the precise reverse – this is a book for a person who is named “X” and wants to know what their name means). But what the book will be useful for is the person who already knows what they want to be called and just needs to show that the name is period and that the name has a meaning based on period roots.

The term “non-calendar,” by the way means that the book eschews any discussion of Christian names (i.e., ones that would come from the Calendar of the Saints) and focuses on native non-Christian names. The decision to center on the northwest means that the list of names is heavy on Novgorod, Moscow, and Karellia, and largely ignores Ukrainian, Belarusian, and Baltic names. A very short section at the end of the book highlights names that were found explicitly in Karellia.

-- Paul Wickenden of Thanet



•  Arkheologiia severnorusskoi derevni X-XIII vekov: srednevekovye poseleniia I mogil'hiki na Kubenskom ozere. Tom 2: Material'naia kul'tura I khronologiia [Archeology of the Rural Areas of Northern Rus, 10 th -13 th Centuries: Medieval Settlements and Burial Grounds in the Kubenskoe Lake Region. Vol II: Material Culture and Chronology]. Moscow: Nauka, 2008.

This volume, the second in a three-volume set, highlights common artifacts found in excavations of burial grounds in an established medieval settlement in the Russian far north. The other two volumes are of less interest to SCA folks (the first volume outlines the geological conditions, while the third one focuses on “paleoecological conditions”). Due to the era of the research, the artifacts (they uncovered nearly 10,000 pieces!) are largely metal, glass, or bone and are mostly in fragments. There is pottery, axe heads, fish hooks, and (most interesting of all) beads. No fabrics or textiles are mentioned and clothing is largely ignored in the discussions lacking any evidence for what specifically was worn.

The authors are mostly interested in documenting their techniques and drawing quantifiable measurements. SCA folks won't find the many charts and graphs terribly helpful, but the reproductions of the pieces themselves are fascinating. Like many earlier archeological books from Russia, this one features a good number of black and white line drawings that are good for observing detail. But, unlike books I have seen before, this volume also includes high quality color photographs (which are particularly helpful for observing artistic pieces like the many glass beads).

For the non-Russian speaker, one of the nice features of this edition is the 12-page English summary at the back that highlights many of the key finds. Even better, there is a translation of all of the captions on the illustrations. So, if you are perusing the book and want to know what illustration 148 shows, you can flip to the back and the entire caption is translated into English. This can save a lot of time with the dictionary.

-- Paul Wickenden of Thanet


Standard Disclaimer Stuff: Most of us are members of the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc (SCA) but our Interest Group and its newsletter are not officially affiliated with the SCA. Naturally, then, Slovo does not bear any intentional resemblance to anything that the SCA officially endorses.

The original authors retain the rights to their works. Please contact them directly for permission to reprint. Uncredited material is the property of the publisher.

The publisher and editor is Paul Wickenden of Thanet (Paul Goldschmidt), 5625 Highland Way, Middleton WI 53562, 608-827-6891, e-mail: There is no subscription fee and copies of this quarterly newsletter are available free of charge from the editor. Slovo is also available on-line at the Interest Group web site (