Vyg., 1835. 175 ff. 13,5x10,6 cm. A manuscript. 14 lines. Black and copious red ink. Each chapter starts with vyaz - a calligraphic script with ornamentation. Eleven decorated headpieces. Eight chapters have decorated endings that include birds and flowers in compositions. Gold is used in all of the headpieces and the endings. The manuscript also includes several dozen initials, each of which uses different colors at the beginning of the chapter, including gold. At the end of the manuscript, the floral composition with the date 1835 is featured. It is quite rare for this type of manuscript to be dated. The date is half-erased by previous owners.
In red morocco binding over the thin wooden boards, gilt-tooled with floral borders, corner stamps, and central lozenge front and back, spine gilt in four panels of geometric patterns, edges gilt-tooled. One of the two original clasps preserved.
An incredible example of the early 19th-century Old-Belivers’ Northern Manuscript of Vyg (The Pomorian Creed) tradition.
The Pomorian creed was formed in 1694 when the Vygovsky men’s monastery (Vygovsky obschezhitelstvo) was founded in Pomorye by the Vyg river, which became a spiritual center for the entire creed from the early 17th to the middle 19th century as well as an ideological center for the priestless Old Believers. On the basis of the Solovetsky Monastery rules, the Pomorian service rules for the laity were created without words, which were given by priests.
The Vyg community was founded in 1695 in the Lake Onega region along the Vyg River and Lake Vyg as a base for the free colonization of the north of Russia and as a center for the literary activity of the schismatics. The Vyg River hermitage was settled by Old Believers, primarily fugitive serfs, rebellious monks from the Solovetsk Monastery, and other refugees from Russia’s cities and villages. It soon emerged as a major economic and cultural center of northern Russia. In 1854-1855, the government of Nicholas I broke up the Vyg community, destroying the Vyg River hermitage and all the buildings of the small and secluded Old Believer monasteries (only one chapel has survived).
In the early years of the community’s existence, the work of a scribe and teacher had not yet formed as an independent professional field of activity. The tasks of school education, enlightenment of society, and propaganda of the old faith required a wide distribution of books (the Old Believers were deprived of the possibility of printing their texts). Therefore, the best students were trained to become scribes. The 1760s witnessed the emergence of a peculiar type of writing - the so-called Pomeranian poluustav, which was also used for the present manuscript. This scribe unmistakably stands out from the manuscript legacy of the 18th and 19th centuries. The high professionalism of the scribes is confirmed not only by the closeness of the handwriting within the same school but also by the exceptional quality of the correspondence: usually there are almost no mistakes in Vyg manuscripts. Vyg mentors expressed constant concern for the schools and the book-writing scriptoriums. Literate cells, which, apparently, combined literacy training and the copying of books, were in the male and female monasteries. There was also a kind of literary workshop where, under the guidance of mentors, students comprehended the secrets of literary mastery, the necessary condition of which was the knowledge of grammar and rhetoric. For this purpose, all the rhetoric textbooks circulating in Russia at that time were collected on Vyg.
The contents of the manuscript, apart from the calendar and the memorials for the saints, include the sections called Luanne techenie [i.e. The Lunar Current] and Sighted Paskhalia. Both were used to calculate the date of Easter in Orthodox tradition. Their principle was based on the belief that the schedule of the lunar phases, compiled for any 19th-year circle, was exactly repeated in the next 19 years, which made it possible to compile a table of Easter dates or formulate an algorithm for calculating them for many years to come. The Russian Old Believer tradition goes back to the 12th century when philosopher Kirik Novgorodets explained the principle of Paskhalia in the first Russian mathematic text Uchenie o chislakh [i.e. The Learning About Numbers].