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Creation Date

18th century




Russian, Rus’, Post-Byzantine


Ink on paper


8 ½ × 6 ¾ in. (21.6 × 17.2 cm)

Credit Line

Bequest of David P. Harris ('46), 2020

Accession Number



Acquired by David P. Harris. Source and date unknown. See “Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings,” for transcription of a slip of paper included – perhaps upon purchase – with the leaf.


The inner side of this page is carefully torn. On the recto, the bottom right corner is darkened, and small darkened blotches can be found throughout. The verso appears lighter than the recto, though here – as on the recto – ink from the opposite side soaks through. Some small markings and dark patches are also visible.

Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

See the document in the "Additional Files" section with side-by-side transcription and translation of the text on the leaf. Other later notations in pencil are listed here:


Top of page:

56. KOP


20 P

Bottom left corner:



Bottom right corner:


Additionally, a slip of white printed paper is associated with this leaf. A transcription follows:

#07-93 Single leaf from a Passion, in Russian, on paper (some with unidentified watermark). Semi-uncial hand, written in a single column of 19 lines in a dark brown ink, some initials in burnt orange. Decorated initial “H” in burnt orange with a marginal design of interlocking circles and strapwork (verso) and (recto) a chapter heading in black ink. Some later notations and drawings.

Eighteenth-century foliation.

Russia, 18th century.



This is a beautiful example of an Eastern Orthodox illuminated manuscripts. One side (the recto) is clearly brighter than the other. Despite many archaic grammatical endings and sigla – abbreviated words – the Old Church Slavonic is readable, with time, to anyone with experience with Russian, Ukrainian, or other Slavic languages that use the Cyrillic alphabet. Our version shares much in common with older manuscripts like the Kyiv Psalter of 1397 and this pre-modern print of the Postnaya Triod. This isn’t a reflection of the age of this object, but evidence of its authors’ intentions; the burnt orange headings and then-outdated Old Church Slavonic are meant to recall an earlier Slavic manuscript culture. Indeed, print was a well-established industry in the Russian Empire by the 18th century. In 1703, the first print newspaper in the Russian language – Vedomosti, later the title of a modern Russian press – was introduced. This object, then, with its hand-written inscriptions, is deliberately using older forms of transmitting and recording information. Perhaps this was done to lend an air of antiquity to the sacred text contained here, a practice not uncommon in Western Europe at a similar point in print history (see Stallybrass, “Printing and the Manuscript Revolution” and Healy, “Manuscript, Print, and the Lyric in the Seventeenth Century” for an exploration of this phenomenon in this region).

The text is a mix between Old Church Slavonic (OCS) and Old Russian, which uses the Greek ω occasionally in place of the expected OCS O. This is done inconsistently; the word вωадѣ is shortly followed by the same word spelled as воадъ. Use of the jers (ъ, ѣ, and ь) is also inconsistent, but this is typical for this point in the development of the language (see Nesset, How Russian Came to be the Way It Is). Perhaps our scribe, using a deliberately outdated style of writing, did so in a superficial way. This page appears to contain an introduction to a homily on the recto, followed by the homily itself on the verso (see the translation above for more).

Works Cited:

Carpenter, John B. “Answering Eastern Orthodox Apologists regarding Icons.” Themelios 43.3 (2018): pp. 417–33.

Healy, Thomas. “Trewly Wrote: Manuscript, Print, and the Lyric in the Early Seventeenth Century.” The Lyric Poem: Formations and Transformations. Cambridge University Press, 2013, pp. 51–70.

Nesset, Tore. How Russian Came to be the Way It Is. Slavica Publishers, 2015.

Stallybrass, Peter. “Printing and the manuscript revolution.” Explorations in Communication and History. Routledge, 2008, pp. 111–18.

Comparative/Associated Objects:

Triod’ Postnaya, 2nd half of the 1550s. British Library, London, EAP556/1/19/1,

Kyiv Psalter, 1397. Saltykov-Shchedrin Library, Saint Petersburg, ОР ОЛДП F. 6. See also the Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine,

Sam Bowden (’24)

2020.456b.JPG (2441 kB)
Reverse view

2020.456_translation.pdf (31 kB)
Transcription and Translation