First edition. Kiev, 1661. 314 leaves, 1 engraved title page, 2 plans of the caves as well as 49 woodcuts of Lavra saints. 31x18 cm.
The first Old Slavonic edition of arguably the most important book printed in Ukraine in the 17th century. Complete with the folding plans of the monastery caves. The folding plans in the first edition are almost always lacking. The second edition that came out in 1678 had the plans as well, the second edition comes with plans in 30% of the times, while the first almost never.
Sophisticated copy: all the woodcuts in the book are contemporary coloured which usually indicates the presence of the copy in the important collection. The colouring itself is a work of art, giving the new perspective to the classical images. Condition: late 18th cent. maroon binding, recent restoration of the spine and the back cover. Parts of the pages are in manuscript (added in XVIII century), including parts of the title page, the plans and one leaf of the index at the back of the book.
Provenance: coming from the library of I.K. Laptev (book plate, 19th cent.), before that it has been in Belgorod region, according to the inscription by Fyodor Ivanovich Vavilov, that is done through several leaves of the book.
The book is the chronicle of one of the first Christian monasteries in Kiev Rus’. Kiev Pechersk Lavra that was found in 1051 has been a cave monastery and the centre of the spiritual life of the Eastern European Christianity.
The story of the creation of this book has started in the 13th century, when Lavra monk Simon wrote the letter to his ward, Polikarp, in the letter he was using the examples of the lives of the saints of the monastery to teach Polikarp the Christian virtues. Polikarp himself wrote another letter later extending Simon’s examples to archbishop Akindin. From there on the different texts were added by the monks of the Lavra that formed the first known manuscript version of Paterik, the copy created in the 16th century for Tver archbishop Arseny.
Written as the chronicle of life in the cave monastery, Paterik is an important documentation of Kiev Rus with information on the economy, social life of the country, the ties between Christianity and the pagan beliefs of the Middle Age Russia. It’s hard to compare it with any other book documenting the life of the country, as it’s a collection of first-hand accounts, the classical stories of the life of the monastery and around, the polemics and the historical essays on the beginning of Russian Church, etc. Paterik was created in the form used in Byzantine tradition, similar to Sinai Paterik, Rome Paterik, etc. that usually includes the story of the lives of the saints together with the their works. Comparing to Byzantine Pateriks, Otechnik Pecherskii has less text by the saints themselves, but more material on their lives.
The text was changing over time, the new lives of saints were being added. The most important alteration was made in the 17th century when the version of Iosif Trizna (1647-1656) was created. Iosif was preparing the first printed edition that came out in 1661. Trizna editing transformed Paterik from collection of biographies of important personalities of Lavra to something bigger: the events are viewed in context with Russian and even universal spiritual life.
At the time it was very important for Kiev-based Orthodox Christians to emphasize their roots and the fidelity of their believes. In Moscow starting from the 1650s, the Raskol started to emerge: the great split between Orthodox Christians that later led to the creation of the movement of the Old Believers and their oppression by the Official Church for years to come. This edition was the important manifestation for archbishop Innocent (Gizel) (1600-1683), Prussian-born Church administrator and educator, who was close to Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich and lobbied the unity of Ukrainian and Russian Church traditions.
The coloured version of Paterik with the plans of caves present could be regarded as one of the rarest and most important books on the market.