- Book of Veles
The Book of
Veles(also: Veles Book, Vles book, Vlesbook, Isenbeck's Planks, Велесова книга, Велес книга, Книга Велеса, Дощечки Изенбека, Дощьки Изенбека) is claimed to be a text of ancient Slavic religionand historywritten on wooden planks.
It contains religious passages and accounts of history interspersed with religious morals. The earliest events in the book could be dated around 7th century BC and the latest happened in 9th century AD.
The book was allegedly discovered in 1919 and lost in 1941. Its authenticity is disputed, it is suspected to be a forgery made in the 1940s or the early 1800s; Moreover, different modern editions of the book have different versions of its text. Regardless, some Slavic
Neopagans use it as their sacred text.
Opinions about the authenticity of the book are divided. Nearly all
scholars consider it a forgery. The history of the book can be reliably traced only as far as mid-1950s, when the transcribed book and the photograph of one of the planks first surfaced in a San Francisco-based, Russian emigrant newspaper. Some scholars believe that the entire book was a product of collaboration of the editors of this newspaper and Yuriy Mirolyubov, who later claimed to have found the book. Others believe that either the entire book or the only plank available, were forged in the early 1800s by the Russian collector and forger Alexander Sulakadzev. Finally, some speculate that there is a possibility that Mirolyubov found one or several pages of the Book of Veles and falsified the rest of the text to fit his theories about early Slavs.
The book is written in a language that is very similar to
old East Slavic language. Consequently, a large part of the book's text, once transcribed into a modern alphabet, is readable by modern speakers of Slavic languages. However, professional historians, particularly the specialists in ancient Slavic, question many features of its language — vocabulary (modern or medieval Slavic words occasionally and unwittingly used in place of their ancient equivalents), spelling, phonetics (lack of understanding of the sound 'f', which existed in Proto-Slavic but disappeared later on, the haphazard handling of reduced vowels, etc., etc.), grammar (grammatical forms incompatible with early Slavic languages), etc. These features seem to indicate that the text was artificially "aged" by someone with imperfect knowledge of ancient Slavic. In the words of the historian O.V. Tvorogov:
The opponents of mainstream science claim, however, that the problems with language could be attributed to local dialect variations (if the book was written or compiled from accounts of multiple people, as it is claimed by its supporters). The alphabet of the book is also a controversial issue, since the book was written using an alphabet similar to
Cyrillic. The very existence of written language among Slavs prior to the introduction of Cyrillic during 10th century is still disputed.
In addition, the supposed deity
Belobogis not attested in any reliable source, while Crnobogappears to be a Christian mis-interpretation - possibly deliberately inflated and confounded with the Devil; it is only attested by a single source discussing an account of West Slavic(not Russian Slavic) paganism, based on secondhand knowledge and dating to the Christianization of the Slavs. The existence of these supposed deities which are invoked by name in the inscription was uncritically believed in modern times, until the late 20th century. Nowadays however, at least Belobog is generally considered a modern hoax itself, while Crnobog - if not a byname of another deity - is rarely if ever accepted by scholars as anything than a local West Slavic deity, and the idea of light/dark dualism is usually regarded as a Christian concept unknown in pagan Slavic culture (see also Perun/ Perkeleand Dabog/Dazbog).
Those who believe in authenticity of the Book of Veles claim that all the criticism can be successfully countered, arguing for instance that language errors could occur during transcription of the text. They also claim that a forgery of such authenticity would require greater talent than Mirolyubov had, and that there was no personal gain for him, apart from nationalistic pride, in forging the book.
Since the original planks are lost, there will probably never be a consensus about the book's authenticity among amateurs.
The style of the description below follows the assumption of authenticity.
The Book of Veles was the first text written on wooden planks ever found.Fact|date=August 2007 Recently, more such texts have been found, such as
birch bark writings of Novgorod.
The planks were 38 cm wide, 22 cm tall and about 0.5 cm thick. The edges and surfaces of the planks are uneven and near the top there are two holes for joining the planks. The text is carved into the planks and later covered with some coloring. Text alignment lines (roughly straight and parallel) are drawn across the planks and the tops of letters are aligned with these lines. The text is written below the lines, rather than above. The size and shape of the letters are different, suggesting that more than one person wrote the text. Some planks were partially or mostly
History of the book's discovery according to Mirolyubov
In 1919, a
Lieutenantof the White Russian Army, Fedor Arturovich Izenbekfound a bunch of wooden planks written in strange script in a looted mansion of Kurakins near Kharkiv( Ukraine). After the defeat of the Army, Isenbeck emigrated to Belgradewhere in 1923 he unsuccessfully tried to sell the planks to the Belgradelibrary and museum. In 1925 he settled in Brusselswhere he gave the planks to Yuriy P. Mirolyubov, who was the first to study them seriously. Izenbek treated the planks very carefully, did not allow them to be taken out of his house and refused a suggestion by a professor of University of Brusselsto hand them over for studying. Later this refusal to permit others to study these texts would lead people to suspect them as forgeries.
For fifteen years Mirolyubov restored, photographed, transcribed (as photographs proved to be unreadable) and finally translated the text. He managed to transcribe most of the planks.
In August 1941 Germans occupied Brussels, Izenbek died and the planks were lost. Some think that the Germans took the planks to their (
Ahnenerbe) archive, and then were moved to Englandat the end of World War IIto be stored near Aldershotor Crookhamto this day. Much of the Ahnenerbe archive seems to have been captured by Soviet forces, in which case the planks would likely have ended up in secret KGBarchives instead. Others believe that the planks were burned in a fire.
Mirolyubov emigrated to the
United Statesand passed the materials in 1953 to professor A. A. Kurenkov (Kur) who then published them in the magazine " Zhar-Ptica" from March 1957 until May 1959. Later the text was studied by S. Paramonov (Lesnoi).
According to Book of Veles, in 10th century BC ("thirteen hundred years before
Ermanaric"), pra-Slavic tribes lived in the "land of seven rivers beyond the sea" (possibly corresponding to southeastern Kazakhstan). The book describes migration of Slavs through Syriaand eventually into Carpathian mountains, during the course of which they were briefly enslaved by the king "Nabsur" ( Nabonassar?). They settle in Carpathian mountains in 5th century BC ("fifteen hundred years before Dir"). Several centuries appear to pass without much commotion. 4th century AD is described in some detail: during this time Slavs fought a number of wars with Goths, Huns, Greeks, and Romans. Many references to Ermanaricand his relatives are present (placing this section of Book of Veles in the same historical context as the story of Jonakr's sons, referenced in numerous European legends and sagas). Slavs eventually emerged victorious. The period of 5th to 9th centuries AD is described briefly; Khazarsand Bulgarsare mentioned.
The book ends with Slavic lands descending into disarray and falling under Norman rule.
We were forced to retreat to woods and live as hunters and fishermen. So we could
get away from danger. We survived one darkness and started to build cities
and houses everywhere. After the second darkness there was great frost and we moved
to south for many places there were grassy ... and then Romei were taking our cattle
at a good price and were true to their word. We went
to southern ... greengrassland and had a lot of cattle ...
From Plank 7/A
"Enemies are not as numerous as we are, for we are
Russians and they are not."
We pray and bow to the first Triglav and to him we sing a great glory.
Svarog, grandfather of gods who is to whole gods' kin forefather
and creator of everything living, eternal spring that flows in the summer
and everywhere and in winter and never it freezes. And with that living water he nourishes
and life gives to us until we reach the blessed fields of
paradise. And to god Perun, the thunderer, god of battle and fight we say:
"You hold us in life by neverending turning of the circle and lead to path
Pravthrough battles to Great Trizna". And all who got killed in the battle -
may they live forever in the Perun's
regiment. To god Svetovidglory we
are exalting for he is the god of Prav and
Javand to him we sing the song for he is the light
with which we see the world. We are looking and in Jav we are, and he from
guards us and therefore praise we sing him. We sing and dance to him and call
god of ours to
Earth, Sunand stars constantly in light keeps.
And glory all to Svetovid, god of ours that
hearts ours opens for us to admit bad deeds ours
and to good we turn. May he hug us like children for this has been said:
what is created with half of the mind could not be seen,
for it is a great secret how can Svarog be at the same time both Perun and Svetovid.
Two beings in skies
And both of them Svarog holds and commands them.
After them come
Hors, Veles and Stribogand then Visenj, Leljand Letic.
From Plank 26/B
...As time passes, we come to the blue river as time ours
is not endless. There we meet
forefathers our and mothers that in
Svargaherds are grazing and trusses
fastening. Their life is just as ours, only there are no
* "The Book of Vles" or "Vles knyha", trans. by Victor Kachur. Columbus, Ohio, 1973. English translation.
* Kaganskaya, Maya. "The Book of Vles: Saga of a Forgery," "Jews and Jewish Topics in Soviet and East-European Publications", # 4 (1986-1987) 3-27.
* See the article in the [http://ru.wikipedia.org Russian Wikipedia] for an extended list of further readings in Russian.
* [http://acov.m6.net/Alkonost%5CVeles-book.htm A. Asov: The book of Veles]
* [http://lib.ru/HISTORY/RUSSIA/veles.txt Translation to Russian by A. Asov in the book of S. Lesnoy]
* [http://www.kirsoft.com.ru/freedom/KSNews_424.htm Translation to Russian] by N. V. Slatina
* [http://www.kolos.com/readroom/veles-print.html Translation to Ukrainian] by B. I. Yacenko
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