Tag Archives: folklore

David Gorodok-Turov style

I love this picture. Traditional head dress from Belarus.

This head dress, belongs to the so called “David Gorodok-Turov” style – a complex of traditional Belarusian folk costumes of the Polesye.

The area where we find this style of traditional folk dress lies along the  Pripyat River, which flows east through Ukraine, then through Belarus parallel to Ukraine border, and then Ukraine again, draining into the Dnieper.

Along the river lie the Pinsk Marshes, a vast natural region of wetlands along the forested basin of the Pripyat River and its tributaries from Brest to the west to Mogilev to the northeast and Kiev to the southeast. It is one of the largest wetland areas of Europe.

Now here is something very very interesting indeed. My friend Sima Kosminski sent me a link to this article, which contains an interview with a couple from Lelikov near Kobrin in Polesye.

They are Peter and Anastasia Shapetsyuki – known collectors of local folklore.

Like other people in Polesye,  who wear this “David Gorodok-Turov” style of traditional folk costume, they apparently speak their own unique dialect which is different from the dialects of the neighboring population. And they have a very interesting legend that explains why their language is different:

Serb tribes were great enemies of the Romans. Finally a Roman emperor got really angry and sent an army to attack them. The Serbs were driven out of their homeland and came and settled down here, in the Pinsk Marshes, in Polesye…

Now what Serbs and what Romans is this legend talking about? Balkan Serbs and Romans? Or Baltic Sorbs and Holy Roman Empire? Both groups of Serbian tribes were indeed great enemies of their “Romans” and waged centuries long wars against invading “Romans”. So both are very good candidates to be “the Serbs” from the legend.

What is interesting, judging by this map from Eupedia, it seems that genetically Polesyans are definitively linked to Balkan Serbs:

What do you think?

This is a very very interesting development, don’t you think so?

Does anyone have any additional information about this legend or about Polesye culture and language?

Herb Friday

БИЉАНИ ПЕТАК је испред Ђурђевдана. По веровању, многе биљке ноћу уочи овога дана стичу лековитост. Зато се биље почиње брати још у току ноћи. Убране биљке дају се стоци о Ђурђевдану и Спасовдану, а неке се суше и чувају за лек. У селу Дубокој, у пределу Звижду, на Биљани петак окупљао се народ пред сеоском пећином. Женскиње је доносило лековито пољско биље, а мушкарци су уносили у пећину дрва и ложили велику ватру. Пред пећином се обедовало, а у њој се проводио дан у општем весељу.

“Herb Friday is the last Friday before St Georges day. People in Serbia believed that during the night before Herb Friday, the medicinal herbs acquire their medicinal properties. This is why people went out into meadows during that night to gather medicinal herbs which were then given to livestock on St Georges day to keep them healthy and fertile. Some of the herbs were also dried and kept for medicinal use for both animals and humans. 

In the village of Duboko, in the Zvižd region, people gathered on the Herb Friday in front of a “village cave”. Women would bring medicinal herbs and men would bring wood. All that was placed inside the cave and a big fire was lit. While the fire was burning inside the cave, people had a feast in front of the cave, and would spend the rest of the day celebrating in front of the cave.”

Source “Srbski mitoloski recnik, grupa autora

This custom is the remnant of the belief in Mother Earth. Caves were seen as wombs of the Mother Earth, and lighting of the fire inside the cave symbolizes lighting of the reproductive fire. You know when we say that a girl is “hot”. That kind of fire. The fire that burns inside women which are ready to mate. Who are “in heat”… The villagers in Duboko (which by the way means “deep, dept”), were just helping Mother Earth in her “hotting up”, in her transformation from an old ugly cold hag Morana, the winter earth, into a young, pretty, hot chick, Vesna, the spring earth. As I said in my post about the flower girls, April is the month when Mother Earth, in her youthful incarnation of Vesna, is coming of age, is getting beautiful and “hot” again. She is opening all her flowers and is ready to mate. And her mate is Jarilo, the young hot sun, who arrives on the 6th of May, the first day of summer. 


Srbska zagonetka: Pitanje: Visok otac, široka majka Odgovor: nebo i zemlja Serbian riddle: Question: Tall (high) father, wide mother Answer: sky and earth The ancient belief in Father Sky and Mother Earth, preserved in Serbian tradition. Father Sky and Mother Earth are at the core of the old European belief system. In Serbian tradition the Father Sky and Mother Earth are known as: Father Sky: Dajbog – giving god Djed – grandfather, male ancestor Mother Earth: Dajbaba – giving goddess Baba – grandmother, female ancestor The Father Sky was seen as three headed (Triglav, Troglav) or three faced, triple (Trojan) Sun god. He consisted of Jarilo (sun as a young man), Vid (sun as an adult, husband), Perun (sun as an old man, grandfather). 
The Mother Earth was seen as three headed (Triglava, Troglava) or three faced, triple (Trojana) earth goddess. She consisted of Vesna (earth as young girl), Mokoš (earth as an adult woman, wife), Morana (earth as an old woman, witch).

It is the dynamic interplay between the Sky and the Earth, the intercourse between the Father Sky and Mother Earth, which creates all life.