[Nizhny Novgorod], 1869. 33, , , 26 leaves. 40 illustrations. 50x33,5 cm. 40 colour miniatures (mostly full-page), headpieces and endings as well as other occasional decorations. Full vellum binding. Some pages are detached but generally in a good condition.
Outstanding example of Old Believers manuscript tradition. Probably executed specially for a prosperous Old Believer merchant of the Volga region. After the Church reform in the mid-18th century, old believers were forced to distribute their texts in manuscript form as they were disallowed to print anything. The tradition started to develop in the late 17th century, and the unique recognizable style was created by the 1760s in the centres like Vyg (Pomorie, northern European part) and Guslitsy (Moscow region). It’s around that time when the people from Old Believer community successfully started to participate in the business life of the country which led to creation of numerous prosperous families. By the middle of the 19th century a significant percentage of Russian millionaires were of adherents of the old faith.
Because of that and also the lift of the government pressure, 19th century was the time when the most ornament and decorated manuscripts were created. By the style of the miniaturist we can suggest that he was an icon painter rather than the self-taught enthusiast. The faces as well as the details of decor, cloth and landscapes indicate the work of a master.
Another significant feature of our copy is the folio format which is larger than of usual copies.
Apart from canonical text and illustrations for ‘Passion Passionate’ the book includes:
1) Povest iz drevnego letopistsa o stradanii Gospoda [i.e. The Tale from the Ancient Chronicle on the Suffering of Christ] with full-page illustration of different tools of torture, crown of thorns, the dice, the robe, the arm that beat Christ, the pieces of hair and beard of Christ.
2) Povest o krasnom iaichke [i.e. The Tale of the Red Egg] with two illustrations showing Mary Magdalene presenting the egg to the emperor.
3) Povest o kuptse khristoliubivom [i.e. Tale of the Christ-Loving Merchant] original Russian text, that dates back to the 17th century.
After that a number of one-page tales follows mostly to do with didactic matters of commerce that indicate that the manuscript was created for a merchant. It includes the tale of ‘the merchant and the robber’, ‘the merchant and his chaste wife’. Two bigger tales towards the end of the section are dedicated to lust: ‘tale of the monk that went to lecher but than repented’; ‘the extracts from the works of holy fathers on the vice of lust’.