The Slavs - who were they?

4:51 AM / Posted by Linda McGregory /

Old Russia from the very very beginning.

The vast East-European plain was inhabited with the Slavs - the ancestors of the Russians. Nobody knows when and how they had come. They settled in different parts of the huge deserted country along the Great Waterway: on the coast of the Varangian (Baltic) Sea, near Nevo Lake (Lake Ladoga), on the bank of the river Volkhov, Ilmeni Lake, the river Lovati, the Dnieper up to the Russkoye (Black) Sea. The folks were named according to the place of their living. These people built the city of Novgorod. Along the Dnieper the Polyans lived in the city of Kiev. The people who lived near by in the forests were called the Drevlyans. There were lots of Slavic tribes who lived near the rivers and lakes. But there were also foreign nations. In the North Finnish tribes lived (Chud, Ves, Merya, Muroma, Cheremisa and others). In the West there was Lithuania, in the South - the Turkis (the Khozars, Pechenegs, Polovtsy). They were engaged in farming. They were ruled by the Fathers, but it wasn't a peaceful time because the tribes carried war on each other and offended their neighbours.
Then they sent ambassadors to the tribe of the Varyags over the Baltic Sea to the country which was called Russia, with words: "Our country is great and rich, but there is no discipline here, please come here to be our grand dukes and masters". Three princes (brothers Rurik, Sineus and Truvor) came with their armed forces, including lots of Slavs, and since that they began to govern in Novgorod, Beloozer and Izborsk. It happened in 862. And it was the beginning of Russia.

Some facts from the life of old Slavs.

There is much information about the life of old Slavs. Strength and stamina, indifference against the weather and climate were inherent for them. Like all the Barbarians they didn't take care of their appearance. The most important thing for them was beauty of strong muscles. The Greeks emphasized good build, tallness and pleasant features of the Slavs. They were very hospitable, according a hearty welcome to any strangers. They supplied their guests with the guard, until they were safe. The Slavic wives were uncommonly faithful. Men kept fidelity as well. According to the tradition wives didn't want to live after their husbands' death and they took death by fire. Vendetta was a usual thing. In case of murder not only a murderer was punished but all his family. The relatives of a victim demanded blood for blood.

Economy


The Slavs were engaged in farming. They cultivated rye, wheat, barley and millet. Gardening was also popular. The archaeologists found the seeds of turnip, beet, carrot, radish and cucumbers. Hunting also played a very important role together with collecting and activities, concerned with forest and water. Fish was a very important thing for food and for trade. They bartered it for bread. To root up the trees the Slavs used an axe which was first made of stone, and then of iron. With the help of hoe and spade they loosened the ground. The harvest was gathered with reaping-hooks, threshed with chains and ground with manual corn-crusher. Cattle-breeding played secondary, but important role. The Slavs kept pigs, cows and goats. It is known that they gathered honey and used it as a basis for cooking alcohol drinks.

Houses

Northern Slavs built land-based houses with wooden floor, gable roof and a big stone stove. Under the ground there was a barn, called "podpolye", "podklet" or "podizbitsa". In the South houses were called semi-earthhouse ("poluzemlyanka"). There were some floors under the ground. The walls were interlaced with willow branches, dry brushwood, rye straw. Stoves were made of clay. The roof was hipped and had no flue. Russian houses were decorated with fretwork and paintings, which had magical sense and played a role of a protector. They reflected pagan ideas of the Slavs. On the front of the house there were the sun and the sky. The Sun was painted on the wooden "towels" located on the roof. The central towel demonstrated a circle divided into six parts which symbolised a seal of Rod or Perun (their Gods). It protected the house from the lightning.

Cooking

Every kind of food played a ceremonial role. For the Pancake week the Slavs cooked pan cakes, symbolising the Sun, for funeral they cooked kissel - fluid food of the dead, for the holidays they baked pies, speaking about the wealth of the family. What ate our ancestors thousand years ago? The Chronicles say that in 907 a monthly tax included wine, bread, meat, fish and vegetables. The word vegetables meant both vegetables and fruit at that time. At the end of 10th century you could find salted lemons, raisin, nuts and honey on the table of a duke. The chronicle of 996 describes the feast of the grand duke Vladimir - much meat, in the streets people could get bread, meat, fish, vegetables, honey and kvass. The army made complaints against wooden spoons and the grand duke ordered to bring silver ones. Porridge could be found in every house. It was made of everything. There is a Russian fairy tale called "Porridge made of an axe" proving the previous statement. The Slavs added beef, brains or yuraga (butter foamed in water) into the porridge. Besides vegetable porridge was also popular. Turnip was the most commonly used vegetable in Russia up to the 18th century. Bad turnip harvest could be the real tragedy for people. This vegetable was boiled, baked, filled or eaten fresh.

Clothes

The Slavs used hemp and cotton to make clothes. Besides, they framed sheep, fleeced and weaved a thick cloth. Most clothes was white. The Slavs knew only one way of coloring - with the help of plants. Alder bark gave brown colour, alder leaves - black, lady's bedstraw roots - dark red. The most popular clothes was shirt, which both men and women wore. It was decorated with embroidery. Trousers were a prerogative of men, boys didn't put them on up to 15 years old, when they became men - hunters and warriors. Their length hardly reached knees. The idea of women's clothes was also interesting. Young girls up to 15 years old wore long shirt, it was prohibited for them to wear a skirt which was called "poneva" - it was a prerogative of a married woman. Poneva is a seamless piece of cloth fixed with belt and covering the backside and thighs.The Russian word "poneva" means "understand", it means that the girl reached the age when girls realize who they are. There was a ceremony of putting on the poneva. It was made in public in presence of all the relatives and friends and it denoted that the girl attained her majority. The girl climbed a wide bench and her mother, a poneva in her hands, asked her to jump into the skirt. The girl said: "If I want, I will, if I don't want, I won't". As soon as she agreed to do it, she was announced a bride.

Religion


The Slavs were pagan. Their beliefs could be divided into several groups.Forest and hunting let the Slavs live. That's why the hunting beliefs are concerned with all the possible animals. The most important god was a BEAR. He was a master of the forest. Cult of WOLF was also popular. During the holidays men wore wolf skins to frighten the evil away. A woman was associated with a deer. Water ghosts - mermaids and vilas - helped to irrigate the ground, they were worshiped as goddesses. The Slavs believed in Khtonos. It was a creature born by the Earth. It was awful and frightening, looked like a huge snake. The sanctuary of the Snake was situated on the bank of the river. Young girls and horses were offered to the Snake as a sacrifice. The pantheons of the Gods was very large and needs further consideration.

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2 comments:

Anonymous on 1:17 AM, August 22, 2007

Slav named Rurik..LOL . Sure, Finnics, Balts etc invited the "Slavs" to rule them.. This is ridiculous and has nothing to do with actual primary sources we have from that time. This is pseudo-uberslavonic-soviet history writing at it's best.

Comment by Ada on 3:23 PM, September 25, 2008

Check out the new Slavic origin hypothesis on: www.hlada.com

Adrian

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