Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Voynich Rosette Map Records An Ancient Pilgrimage

No one would dispute that during the 11th and 12th centuries the Finnish (Komi) migration drained the Urals of much of its Finno-Ugric population and that by the late 12th through 14th centuries other populations that made for the ancestors of the Bashkir largely took their place in the Perm region of Russia.

However, the Voynich Manuscript proves that a seasonal pilgrimage voyaging to the region of the Perm from Fennoscandia took place in the 15th century. These voyagers were navigating the waterways around the metropolises of the day, skirting Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and more secular strongholds, such as the Hanseatic League, and most likely aided by tribes along the Volga and tolerated by the Khanate of Kazan. As the translations indicate, the tongue called Voynichese is an old Fenno-Norse, perhaps the tongue of the old Kvens.

The Voynich Manuscript's Rosette Map shows the pilgrims' path.

Whether this translates into genetic markers for any early migrations from the Perm region to show up in long time residents of Lofoten, Norway, would neither prove nor disprove this theory, for it would be like looking for Jesus' DNA in a Catholic. Pilgrimages are made by followers of a belief system, not necessarily members of the same clan or tribe. Again, judging from the diversity of head-dresses worn in the Voynich manuscript, the people about which this manuscript speaks ranged from all over Europe, and the map itself appears to be a sort of funnel system drawing people to central focal points where they would enter the flow of sojourners. As the transcribed page indicates, flowers blooming at certain times of year along certain river banks flagged pilgrims as to when it was getting time to head downstream to their rallying point--an amazing coordination effort 600 years before GPS and social media.

The Perspectives Assumed in the Voynich Rosette Map

Directional perspective 

This perspective is clearly from the North. Põhi/pohja means both "north" and "bottom". When you look at the map, you are in essence standing somewhere along the Arctic Circle, looking down onto Europe. So as you go south, you go up, farther from the hands holding the map, not down, so the southern tip of Italy, for example, will be closer to your head than, say, Lake Ladoga in Karelia. This makes sense from a Karelian sojourner's perspective, but for everyone else, it might take a few hundred years.


The map's topographic perspective is mainly riverine, some of which is subterranean. It cares about mountain run-off, water flow, tributaries, the size of bodies of water, some quick landmarks to flag whereabouts, but I'd say mainly it cares about currents. Each rosette appears to be a funnel of sorts--a locus or gathering point, although the middle seems somewhat different. This is Russia's Golden Ring, within which certainly participants in this pilgrimage also resided. Since they are in a central spot, they appear to have the most choice as to where/when to join up in the journey.


The people who made this map obviously were interested not in commerce or conquest but to get to a certain destination. What they cared about most of all was to arrive and return safely. The map itself speaks as much. That's why the map looks so strange to us. What we are used to seeing depicted in celebratory style is depicted solely as a marker--little castles, onion domes, walls... The rosettes contain the huge political powers of the day that needed to be negotiated on such a journey: the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, Sweden, the Hanseatic League, the Khanate of Kazan, as well as myriad ports and tribes. Needless to say, what was going on in these corners of the world mattered hugely to pilgrims wishing to avoid calamity. The most violent scene in the whole of the Voynich manuscript is of one woman pulling another woman's hair. I will leave it up to you to hunt it down and spot it. The rest of the Voynich world depicted is otherwise extraordinarily peaceful--remarkable for the 15th century, which could be so very violent, war-ruled, and death-packed an age.


If you haven't a clue who these people were, you might think, "How very strange and mysterious." But if you DO lend some logic to it, these sojourners' bent toward elusiveness makes perfect sense as does the map's fantastic obsession with symmetry and proportion.

Pudasjärvi: Kuivalihavelli, barley flatbread, bread and cheese karpalokiisseli;
Leipäjuusto (bread cheese) or juustoleipä, which is also known in the United States as Finnish squeaky cheese, is a fresh cheese traditionally made from cow's beestings, rich milk from a cow that has recently calved. Reindeer or even goat milk can also be used. The cheese originally comes from Southern Ostrobothnia, Northern Finland and Kainuu. 
Use of orbicular rock in southern Finland to draw Mount Elbrus
Their metaphorical language was based on their reference points and therefore, it made perfect sense to them.

To get you started on thinking who they might be, do a quick count on who is represented: how many males, how many females. Feel free to post the ratio in the comment box below. The fact that it is not a male-centered document is crucial to understanding it. Seems I keep hammering on this. In fact, the manuscript does. We've missed that boat for 600 years and STILL keep calling it "the most mysterious..." Bloody ironic if you ask me, and not a little pathetic. The fact remains, these pilgrims are about as far from the Mayflower as you can get; and one of the biggest favors you can do for yourself in studying the Voynich manuscript is to leave ALL classical studies--Ancient Greece, Rome, Judeo-Christianity, Islam, Egyptology, Mithraism, Gnosticism, Hindo-Buddhism, Alchemy and Kabbalah, Asatru and Rodnovery, UFO theory AND Goddess worship in its conflated, touted, skewed form--any of these big, hot, hubristic canons--leave these all firmly at the door. Not a one of them is here.

The Voynich Google Map

I am constructing this post in tandem with a Google map that will further analyze the details of the Voynich Rosette Map.

Quite a few of the discoveries astonished me. The research has been very involved, so please bear with me as I fill in the details. It is still a journey of discovery, as the research is ongoing.

1 - Nordic Rosette

We begin in Scandinavia, northwest Norway in fact, at a set of islands called Lofoten. A popular story is that the name means Lynx Paw because of their shape. This is not proven. Sticking with solely Old Norse, Lofoten could mean simply a good landing place, or the foot of a cave. Shining a Finnish light on it yields all sorts of gems, many of them mythological and tied to places in Finland and Karelia, even as far east as Russia.

In 1432 the venetian merchant Pietro Querini and his crew shipwrecked at Røst island after drifting for several weeks from the English Channel. Querini supposedly introduced stockfish to the Italian cuisine. The venetians spent 3 months with the locals and then returned to Venice where Querini produced a report for the senate there. Querini's unique and legendary written report was called The first circuit of paradise. Despite the cold and dark winter, he described life in Lofoten as paradise ("we spent 3 months in the first circuit of paradise, to the shame and disgrace of Italy").

Hålogaland was the northernmost of the Norwegian provinces in the medieval Norse sagas. In the early Viking Age, before Harald Fairhair, Hålogaland was a kingdom extending between the Namdalen valley in Nord-Trøndelag county and the Lyngen fjord in Troms county. But who were the people inhabiting this region?

Ancient Norwegians said that Hálogaland was named after a royal named Hölgi. The Norse form of the name was Hálogaland. The first element of the word is the genitive plural of háleygr, a 'person from Hålogaland'. The last element is land, as in 'land' or 'region'. The meaning of the demonym háleygr is unknown. Thorstein Vikingson's Saga, 1, describes it as a compound of Hial, "Hel" or "spirit," and "loge", "fire".

Alex Woolf links the name Hålogaland to the Aurora Borealis - the "Northern Lights" -, saying that Hålogaland meant the "Land of the High Fire",[2] "loga" deriving from 'logi', which refers to fire.

In the medieval accounts of Ynglingatal and Skáldskaparmál, "Logi" is described as the personification of fire, a fire giant, and as a "son of Fornjót". In the medieval Orkneyinga saga and the account of Hversu Noregr byggðist ('How Norway was inhabited'), Fornjót is described as the King of Finland, Kvenland and Gotland. The royal lineages sprung from his children are discussed in these and other medieval accounts.

So here we have some pretty spectacular stuff brought to the table: a king, spirit, the Northern Lights, and by golly, fire. Can it get more poetic? Can it get more epically Norse?

Well, let's just revisit the term briefly. 

Hålogaland, Hálogaland, háleygr

Håla c

  • a deep hole or cavity; a cave
  • a place where disreputable or questionable activities take place
  • an uninteresting or backwards community

From Old Swedish hul, hol, from Old Norse hol, from Proto-Germanic *hulą, from Proto-Indo-European *kuH-, *kewH-.

Gar/gera - give, make, do
From Old Norse gera, gøra, gørva, from Proto-Germanic *garwijaną.
From Proto-Germanic *garwijaną ‎(“to prepare”). Cognate with Old English gearwian, Old Saxon garwian, gerwian, Old High German garawen.

Baseline: This place will give you a cave for shelter.

So now that we are back in a cave practicing questionable rites in a community that was most likely found less interesting than an appropriator's envisioned heroic tales of himself, let's add to this a re-examination of another term tossed into the mix,

The Gothic historian Jordanes in his work 'De origine actibusque Getarum' - a.k.a. Getica -, written in Constantinople in c. 551 AD, mentions a people "Adogit" living in the far North. This could be an old form of háleygir and a possible reference to the petty kingdom of Hålogaland.





From fada ‎(“long”) +‎ -óg.


fadóg f ‎(genitive singular fadóige, nominative plural fadóga)

  • long, elongated, object
  • long straw (used in drawing lots)
  • shock (of corn)

The most outstanding indication of human habitation would have been the thatching of the roofs in the settlements that most likely resembled those still in existence today in areas such as the British and Faroe Isles. The Kvens were in fact known to inhabit and trade in these isles for centuries.
Garenin Black House Village-Isle Of Lewis, Scotland
Ancient village of Saksun, Faroe Islands
Danish/Norwegian tax records from the 16th century already list some Kvens (Finnish-speakers residing outside of Finland) living in North Norway. Also, the famous map of Scandinavia by Olaus Magnus from 1539 shows a possible Kven settlement roughly in between today's Tromsø and Lofoten named "Berkara Qvenar". Kvens of this time are often connected to the birkarl organization in northern Sweden. In some early documents Kvens are also grouped together with the Sami people, who are the indigenous people of Central and Northern Norway. Wiki
Carta Marina, a wallmap of Scandinavia by Olaus Magnus.  "Marine map and Description of the Northern Lands and of their Marvels, most carefully drawn up at Venice in the year 1539 through the generous assistance of the Most Honourable Lord Hieronymo Quirino."
A - Tromso
B - Maelstrom
C - Lofoten
D - Possible Kven settlement - Berkara Qvenar
E - Some devilish little dude sweeping the floor. (What does he stand for?)
F - An island with mound houses--perhaps earth-bermed Viking longhouses similar to those found in Greenland and Iceland. They appear nowhere else on this map but in Greenland and here. Why?
G - A couple on skis practicing archery. This is a remarkably egalitarian depiction of a woman in the 16th century. Research suggests that the men of this tribe were seafaring traders ranging nearly the entire globe and therefore leaving the women to rule their home base. Hence Kvenland's becoming known as the Land of Women.

For a more indepth discussion on the Kvens, see Kvens and the Voynich Manuscript.


Historically, this area of northern Norway inland toward is also quite significant. Several archaeological finds and features, including caves and rock formations, have established this area as significant to the ancients in quite curious ways.

Below is the Refsvik Cave (Revsvika, Refsvikhula) in Moskenes, Lofoten, North Norway.
by Hans Olav Lien 
This area has many sites named after the Huldra. For a discussion on this ancient north European folk belief, see The Huldra/Hiisi and the Voynich Manuscript. For further details that include Huld, Holda, Holle, Hel, Hörsel, Hlóðyn, Helya, and RHEIA,  see The Rites of the Hidden.

Onward South

South of Lofoten we come to the market cross of Trondheim. This was moved, so the place where it is now does not correspond to where it is on the map. However, you can clearly make out Trondheim's distinctive magazines and docks jutting into its waterways, as well as its bridges. It turns out that Trondheim was indeed a major locus for medieval pilgrims. Some of these routes are in use by contemporary pilgrims to this day.

Another example of a pilgrimage from ancient times that is still going on today is The Maids' Cave in Bosnia: 

Mythology of Bosnia and Herzegovina


For a further discussion on pilgrimages and route maps, see Rosette Map with Prefix Key.

2 - Second Rosette

The middle looks obviously like Gotland, making this rosette the Baltic, showing perhaps Finland's many islands around the Gulf of Finland, Vyborg, and/or Estonia's isles.

Needs further research.

3 - The Danubian Rosette

This rosette spans Denmark, Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, and Romania. I settled on a term used to describe a prehistoric culture that roughly covered that region. It somewhat fits since all the tributaries denoted in this rosette have basically a single goal: to get to the Danube and from there to the Black Sea.

Denmark Kongeriket Danmark Danmǫrk Tanska

The Denmark portion of the rosette gave me a gem: Torupsa. That was a first BINGO on the map. As you can see, there are lots of places in this region that include TORUP. Ep Husum took longer but nicely showed up. The Swedes like to use UP, the Norwegians like OPP, the Voynich makes no distinction between an E or an O. When writing a circle, they probably most often mean Ø. Interestingly "ep" means "land of" in Bashkir, and these pilgrims certainly would have rubbed elbows with enough Bashkir along the Volga, so maybe they borrowed that usage and merged it with the Old Norse common way of naming a place a bit north or on top of another place or an event marking the end of something: UP, as in UPPSALA and UP HELLY AA.
South between the Torup Strand and Husum is Schwerin castle, a certain landmark for navigating to the Elbe, the first major river within this rosette.

The Hanseatic League was a formidable power in this region of the globe at the time this map was created. What caused the end of this powerful monopoly? Disagreement among the cities was one issue. Cities like Cologne encouraged trade with the outsiders, while cities like Gdańsk (Danzig) were not so keen. The opinions on what to do with traders varied, and because there were no set policies, non-Hanse merchants were able to gain some ground in the middle of all the indecision. In addition, new, restrictive admission measures were introduced so that only merchants who were born in a Hanseatic city could become members. Trade restrictions increased causing costs to rise, English and Dutch merchants were finally making headway in trade, and the turmoil of the Protestant Reformation compounded troubles for the Hanse. On top of this, conflicts with Flanders, England and Russia further weakened their grip on trade. In Russia, Ivan III (1450–1505) closed the Novgorod Kontor (Hanseatic trading post) in 1494. He had the Hanseatic German merchants arrested and their property confiscated. Edward IV eventually returned Hanse privileges under the Treaty of Utrecht after the Anglo-Hanseatic War concluded in 1474, but the die was cast; the Hanse continued its decline over the course of the 16th century. Queen Elizabeth I eventually abolished the Hanse in London in 1597, and the Steelyard closed permanently in 1598. The last Hanse Diet of 1669 was only attended by 9 members. Source

Along with the Elbe, other tributaries are flagged by nearby castles, as follows:
  • Blatna Water Castle: the Lomnice.
  • Karlstejn: the Berounka.
  • Kokorin: also the Elbe.
  • Pardubice/Hrad Kunětická Hor: Elbe to Vltava (Moldau) to Danube
For a closer look at just these castles, go to the post titled Castles and the Rosette Map.

In the bottom left corner above you see a circle divided three ways. The Bohemian Forest, known in Czech as Šumava, is a low mountain range in Central Europe. Geographically, the mountains extend from South Bohemia in the Czech Republic to Austria and Bavaria in Germany. They create a natural border between 1) the Czech Republic on one side and 2) Germany and 3) Austria on the other. That is the division of three that you see. The Bohemian Forest is the dividing range between the watersheds of the Black Sea and the North Sea, where water collected by the Vltava, Otava and Úhlava rivers flows. These rivers all spring from the Bohemian Forest. That is what the map is trying to show. Again, its main purpose is to show ways of travel through Europe via its system of rivers and tributaries.

The Pardubice Region and the Karsty, Cavey Whole of the Czech Republic

The Czech Republic is one wild place for caves, several fascinating, and at least two who are superb candidates for being involved in this pilgrimage. Punkva river flows underground into this amazing cavern. It actually winds through a mountain, and the scenery inside is like from another planet. The Chynov Cave is equally extraordinary in its rock formations. These are places that have known visitors to pick up an opal or two or counterfeit some coinage. 

4 - The Fourth Rosette

This rosette may be about the Black Sea. If the upper right rosette focuses on water systems through Germany, Slovakia, etc., then this would be the right place for the Black Sea. Another argument to be made for this interpretation is that the depicted days and nights coincide with how many days it would take to cross the Black Sea to get to the Caucasus Range and eventually reach the Volga river: roughly 13 days. To circumnavigate the Black Sea at a leisurely pace takes about 15 days.

The Black Sea was extremely important during the 15th century, although by then its trade was declining because the Turkish Ottoman Empire owned many of the ports and the sea became plagued by pirates. This could be why a stretch around the sea has one word repeated: ei, which is Finnic for "no." See Rosette Map with Prefix Key.

5 - Mt. Elbrus & Caucasus Range Rosette

Top Left - Mount Elbrus

Just behind the rugged Black Sea coastline is the even more
imposing mountain range of the Caucasus.

6 - Russia's Golden Ring Rosette

The reason this rosette looks so mystical is because it is the representation of an enormous region where there is not just one onion-domed church but many, many, many. So this rosette stands for both a geographical place but also for the entire Eastern Orthodox political structure of the day. One might say it stands for Russia herself.
The Golden Ring of Russia has plenty of two architectural features:
onion domes and swallowtail crenellations that do date back to the 15th century.

The Khanate of Kazan

The Khanate of Kazan (Tatar: Cyrillic Казан ханлыгы, Latin Qazan xanlığı, Arabic قازان خانليغى; Russian: Казанское ханство, tr: Kazanskoye khanstvo) was a medieval Bulgarian-Tatar Turkic state which occupied the territory of former Volga Bulgaria between 1438 and 1552. Its khans were the patrilineal descendants of Tugh Temür, the thirteenth son of Jochi and grandson of Genghis Khan. The khanate covered contemporary Tatarstan, Mari El, Chuvashia, Mordovia, parts of Udmurtia and Bashkortostan; its capital was the city of Kazan. It was one of the successor states of the Golden Horde, and it came to an end when it was conquered by the Tsardom of Russia.

The Volga, Kama and Vyatka were the main rivers of the khanate, as well as the major trade ways. Peoples subject to the khan included the Chuvash, Mari, Mordva, Tatar-Mishar, Udmurt, and Bashkir. The Permians and some of the Komi tribes were also incorporated into the Khanate. 

In general, the culture of the Kazan Khanate descended from that of Volga Bulgaria. Cultural elements of the Golden Horde were also present in noble circles.

A large part of the urban population was literate. Large libraries were present in mosques and madrassahs. Kazan became a center of science and theology.

Although Islamic influence predominated, lay literature also developed. The most prominent Old Tatar language poets were Möxämmädyar, Ömmi Kamal, Möxämmädämin, Ğärifbäk, and Qolşärif. Möxämmädyar renovated the traditions of Kazan poetry, and his verses were very popular.

The city of Bolghar retained its position as a sacred place, but had this function only, due to the emergence of Kazan as a major economic and political center in the 1430s.

The architecture of the khanate is characterized by white-stone architecture and wood carvings.

The Bashkirs

Early records on the Bashkirs are found in medieval works by Sallam Tardzheman (9th century) and Ibn-Fadlan (10th century). Al-Balkhi (10th century) described Bashkirs as a people divided into two groups, one inhabiting the Southern Urals, the second group living on the Danube plain near the boundaries of Byzantium——therefore – given the geography and date – referring to either Danube Bulgars or Magyars. Ibn Rustah, a contemporary of Al Balkhi, observed that Bashkirs were an independent people occupying territories on both sides of the Ural mountain ridge between Volga, Kama, and Tobol Rivers and upstream of the Yaik river.

Achmed ibn-Fadlan visited Volga Bulgaria as a staff member in the embassy of the Caliph of Baghdad in 922. He described them as a belligerent Turk nation. Ibn-Fadlan described the Bashkirs as nature worshipers, identifying their deities as various forces of nature, birds and animals. He also described the religion of acculturated Bashkirs as a variant of Tengrism, including 12 'gods' and naming Tengri – lord of the endless blue sky.
Female Shaman - Tengri

The first European sources to mention the Bashkirs are the works of Joannes de Plano Carpini and William of Rubruquis in the mid-13th century. These travelers, encountering Bashkir tribes in the upper parts of the Ural River, called them Pascatir or Bastarci, and asserted that they spoke the same language as the Hungarians.

During the 10th century, Islam spread among the Bashkirs. By the 14th century, Islam had become the dominant religious force in Bashkir society.

By 1236, Bashkortostan was incorporated into the empire of Genghis Khan.

During the 13th and 14th centuries, all of Bashkortostan was part of the Golden Horde. The brother of Batu-Khan, Sheibani, received the Bashkir lands to the east of the Ural Mountains – at that time inhabited by the ancestors of contemporary Kurgan Bashkirs.

During the period of Mongolian-Tatar dominion, some of the Bashkirs became subjects of the Kipchaks. Under the Golden Horde, they were subjected to different elements of the Mongols. After the breakup of the Mongol Empire, the Bashkirs were split between the Kazan Khanate, the Nogay Horde, and Siberian Khanate.

Were Voynich women Bashkir?

There may have been among the Voynich women one of mixed Bashkir ancestry, or not. To the right, for example, is one of the very few people in the Voynich manuscript with black hair. At any rate, navigating through Bashkir land could have influenced the pilgrims' cartographic word choices. Hence, the frequent use of  "ep" for "land of." as a sort of prefix....or not. As is true for so many writings of this time period, the vowels are exceedingly slippery, so that could just be coincidence and the EP in front of so many place names the usual Nordic OP/UP. Among the Voynich women there could as easily have been a Meshchera or two, or Komi, Setu, Tavastian, Ingrian, Kven, Csanga, Mordvin, Saami, Mari El, Tornedalian, Udmurt, or for that matter a few wild Orcadians. No one knows...yet.

Were there any Bashkir Tengri female shamans left in the 15th century? If so, would there have been an exchange between these women on herbs, dances, wood and textile craft, getting along in this world?

7- The Volga Rosette

The Meshchera

The following is excerpted from an article on the Meschera by Alexei Markov.

The first Russian document mentioning the Meshchera is  “Tolkovaya Paleya” (13cAD). The tribe was also often mentioned in Russian chronicles and other documents before the 16th century.
The Will of the Moscow prince Ivan Ivanovich (1358) mentions the village of Meshcherka  which, as we can learn from another document, had been purchased from the indigenous Meshcherian prince Alexander Ukovich. There are some indications that this western Meshcherian dynasty had been baptized to Orthodoxy and was vassals of the Moscow princes.

Generally speaking, we can easily find the Meshchera in Russian documents of the13th-16th centuries, unlike the other Finnish tribes: Merya and Murom which had been assimilated by Slavs before the 10th-11th centuries AD.  A number of the documents mentions the Meshchera in connection with the Kazan campaign of Ivan the Terrible (16c). Some of those mentions relate to the Temnikov Meshchera, a state where the indigenous Meshchera of that time  had lost their national identity in many ways by being assimilated by the Tatars and Mordvins. There is a written confirmation of this by Prince A.M.Kurbsky, which pointed out to the “spoken Mordvin language in the Meshchera land”.

We believe that some Arabic documents also could have information on the Meshchera history, as long as the Moslem clergy was active in the east of the tribal territory converting the locals into Islam.

Archaeology and ancient art

The most information on the Meshchera way of life may be found by archaeology. The archaeological  studies of the Meshcherian heritage started in 1870, when a ground burial site was discovered by chance in the village of Zhabki, Ryazan province (now Egorievsk district, Moscow region). A collection of women’s bronze burial (or maybe partly casual) decorations was dated by the 5th-8th centuries AD and identified as Finno-Ugric. A number of similar finds were made shortly after in Ryazan and Vladimir provinces. The almost identical material culture let the scientists specify these burial sites as Meshcherian.

Meshcherian necklace and brooch
12 of these burial grounds were discovered along the Oka river from the Moskwa (Moscow) river mouth to the town of Kasimov (which earlier had been called “Gorodets Meschersky”). Some specific features of the artifacts from the  Oka valley led to their different classification as the Oka-Ryazan culture. Now the majority of specialists believe that the people of the Oka-Ryazan culture were Meshchera.

The Meshcherian women’s burial set had many things typical for the other Volgo-Finns of the 4th-7th centuries: jingling pendants, buckles, neck rings, rings, etc. One of the specific features was the presence of massive round-shaped breast plates with a distinct ornament, the varieties of which could be related to different Meshcherian clans or to carry some other information unknown today.

A number of the women’s burials were well preserved with copper oxides of the decorations. They contained  long black hair locked into one or two with  little bells and pendants woven in.

All these artifacts allow to reconstruct the woman’s burial costume in detail, but we still know very little what the casual clothes of men and women looked like.

The Finno-Ugrian culture of the Oka valley was changed abruptly by the 10th century AD by the material culture of Vyatich Slavs. The more northern sites demonstrate a mixture of styles. The artifacts there had been Finno-Ugrian till 12AD with strong Slavic influence.

Where and when have the Meshchera gone?

The most ancient source of the Meshcherian culture in Oka valley had disappeared by the 10th-11the centuries. There are no obvious indications of genocide, but the fast change in the material culture of the settlements may tell us a story of the intensive “push-out” of the Meshchera towards east and west. All Meshchera men were armed and the possibility of  local conflicts was high that time. On the other hand, the Meshchera had a long history of peaceful coexistance  with a number of Slavic and Baltic tribes and possibly paid  tribute to the Kievan Rus. A number of  newcomers could live peacefully side by side with the Meshchera assimilating them.

In the Northern part of their  territory the Meshchera were baptized and stayed at their territory as long as the agricultural Slavic colonists had little interest in the poor marshy  lands.  The Meshchera noblemen were baptized by the 12th-13the centuries,  but the common hunters and fishers kept the elements of their language and traditional beliefs for a longer period.

Till what time the Meshcherian language was able to be preserved in the most remote and isolated tribal settlements? In the middle of the 19the century, M.Baranovich, a Russian writer, reported from Ryazan province: “The Meshchera lived mainly along  the  Pra and the Yalma rivers, big and small lakes nearby the Vladimir province border… As to the Mescheryaks”… (Russian speaking locals most probably of Meshchera decent)… “the local people’s personalities make me sad… the people are petite, weak and not developed.” The archaeological sites had not been discovered by that time and we believe that in giving all these details Baranovich relied upon some local legends.

Not far from there, in Radovitsky the Orthodox St.Nicholas monastery was founded in the 16th century with the primary task to convert the locals into Christianity. This also can  point out indirectly to the relatively late disappearance of local traditional beliefs and culture in this area.

Considering all these data, we may suppose that the last people had stopped speaking the Meshcherian language in about the 16th century

The ethnography

The ethnographers consider the present-day Meshchera as  local groups inside of the Russian ethnos. This ethnographical Russian-speaking Meshchera live mainly in the heartland of the massive forestland on the borders of Moscow, Ryazan and Vladimir regions of the Russian Federation. Some Meshchera settlements are also situated in Tambov, Penza and Saratov regions. There is  little doubt that these people are of Volgo-Finnish (some say partly Ugrian) decent,  heavily influenced by the Slavs, Turks and maybe Mongols.

These Russian-speaking Meshchera still have a number of specific anthropological features. The people are generally not tall and have dark hair. There is a specific dialect and some countryside housing details. The rural Meshchera are smart fishers, bee-keepers and hunters.

Facts and hypotheses

The British Encyclopaedia 2001 (Russia: history) says that the first state on the North-West Russian land  identified by the Western and Islamic sources was the Volga Rus Khagan State. It was founded in 830 and its capital was near the present-day Ryazan. If it is true, the Meshchera were one of it’s main ethnical groups (if not the majority).
One of the hypotheses says that the most of Meshchera, being pushed out, moved eastward and was converted into Islam. Mixing with the Tatars, they took their language and gave a start to a new sub-ethnos known as the Tatar-Mishers or Misherler. Part of the eastern Meshchera also could be assimilated by the Russians and the closely related Mordvins.  A number of Russian-speaking groups identified by the ethnographers as Meshchera and living to the east of the ancient Meshcherian area, shows that it is highly possible.

The origin of the word “meshchera” is still unknown. We believe this word could be a self-name of the ancient Volgo-Finns of the Oka river and was closely related to the following existing Volgo-Finnish words:

“Mesh” (Moksha-Mordvin) – a bee;   *)
“Erzya” (Erzya-Mordvin) – a self-name of the Erzyas;
“Eritsia” (Erzya-Mordvin) – an inhabitant, a local.

Thus the Meshchera were just the Bee People, or the Beekeepers. This self-name could be easily taken by the neighboring groups seeking honey for trade, plunder or tribute. The middle Oka area, a historical cradle of the Meshchera, has always been known for its productive apiculture.


There are still a number of mysteries about the history of the Meshchera. But what we know for sure is: they were skilled fishers, hunters and bronze craftsmen. They were not keen on cultivating their land though they knew how to do it. They definitely deified the nature around them with a number of its creatures and especially the water fowl. They kept their sustainable primary economy for  hundreds of years. They were happy with their own life-style and were not fast to give it up. They gave their name to the vast area in the center of the Eastern Europe and their extinct language still exists in the names of some creeks, rivers and villages. Many  living people are of their descent and we’d like them to remember of their ancestry.

8 - The Ural Rosette

Perm Krai


Divya Cave 

(photos from Caves of the World, text from http://divia.pz9.ru/index.html)

One of the largest and most beautiful caves in the Urals, the first description of Divya cave was made in 1770, explorer and traveler P. Rychkov. Many researchers have studied it: NP Rychkov (1770), VI Berhe (1821), VN Mammoth (1911), PN Kapterev (1913), VS Lukin (1949), Hawks (1958) and others. In the years 1976-1983 the cave cavers investigated Bereznikovskaya speleosektsii city. In 1979, they were discovered and mapped a new part of the cave.
Cave Entrance
Despite the abundance of literature on the cave, there is still no complete her plan. The appearance of the cave changes over time. It is known that as a result of landslides can fade the whole grotto. The total length of 10,100 m of caves (some of today length of the cave is about 11,600 m, but the change is not made on the card), the depth of 28 m, two-level (difference in height between 6-8m). The main one upper traced throughout the main course and in most branches. The ground floor is best represented by a large branch Pesher going from grotto to grotto Istomin down Teremok. Small moves in the ground floor are also available in the hallway at a distance of 108m from the entrance to the cave and grotto fishnet. It is possible that in the cave there are other lower floors with a well-developed hydrographic network, as at the foot of a high slope under Divya cave out numerous large karst springs. First-largest limestone cave in the Urals. It provides rich material for karstovedov and cavers. Located on the right bank of the river. Colva 1.5 km below the village Tsepiya (non-residential) and 10 km to the north of the village Nyrob, Cherdyn district of the Perm region and refers to Kolvinskoye karst areas.
Divya Cave Map
The name of the cave - Divya - takes the word "divy" wonderful, magical or miraculous. The people have a belief - who descend into the cave, sure to be happy for once. The cave is a series of caves and galleries extending from west to east. Active watercourses Divya not. There is a creek and several lakes. The largest lake is in the grotto of the sun. On the surface, some of the lakes you can see matte "icicles" calcite. The water temperature of 4 ° C. The temperature ranges from 4 to 8 ° C. When you exit the cave felt a sharp smell of ozone, which indicates a lack of oxygen inside. The air in the cave helps to treat respiratory diseases. The largest caves (Vetlan, Virgin Gvozdetskaya etc.) Reach a length of 50, the width and height of 15 m. On the floor, as a rule, piling up boulders. The cave is preserved rare beauty and elegance of calcite speleothems. This massive curtains patterned with fringe at the bottom, brush calcite crystals, resembling bunches of grapes, thin tubes of stalactites - brchki small individual stalactites and stalagmites, and cascades sag, columns and tiered pagoda. There are very large stalagmites up to 3 m, 1.5 m in diameter. They are often split transverse cracks, and their individual parts lying near these giants. There Gora and unusual stalagmites, consisting of loose bright red clay, and topped with a thin layer of calcite. It found a rare formation - cave pearls of two kinds: pearl white of up to 25 mm and a ball-shaped, sometimes oval, cream-colored up to 30-40 mm. At the bottom of the cave are many well-preserved fossil fauna: foraminifera, corals, mollusks, bryozoans. The cave is inhabited by bats of several species, especially large colonies - in the reserved section.

One of the karst springs, is 1km away from the cave in the direction Dereviny Divya is a whole karst river (in rainy weather its width 5m, depth of 15-20 cm, and the flow velocity of 2 meters per second). Here, next to the stone you can see a beautiful waterfall, which comes directly from a small grotto. Still higher there the course of which follows a small stream.
Legend Sculpture 

Legend (excerpt from Divya Cave, Survinat)

— Well, what is still great this cave?
— Large — I was told — no one has ever held it to the end, and very beautiful.
The cave is known since ancient times. On it are many legends and stories, but they are all connected with the Virgin-Virgin-hero or beauty, once lived by the river Colva, in the dense taiga forest. Moonlit evenings she appeared at the highest shore and spun. Virgin melodious songs resounded far to limitless expanses of the North Urals. But, as someone approaching on the voice of the Virgin, she disappeared.
At one point on the opposite bank of the young hero Vetlan settled, and Virgo, litsezrev it could no longer retreat from the river, fascinated by his valiant appearance and beauty. Vetlan Virgo and passionately in love with each other and decided to unite their hearts forever, but wide and abounding in Colva opposed this. Then Virgo rushed into the river to move to the beloved, and drowned. It is also petrified, turned into the big and beautiful coastal mountain. Since that time, the mountain was christened Stone Devillers. Especially majestic and beautiful in it quiet moonlit nights when clearly stands out among his tender white seems to be asleep, dark forest. 
Petrified with grief and hero, becoming a more dignified and beautiful stone on the opposite shore Vetlan Colva, a few kilometers downstream. From here the coastal mountain cave also called Devey, and some residents of nearby villages call it besides Vetlanskoy. Over time, the name «Devya» turned into «Divya».
This legend may be an echo of a much more ancient cultural tradition centered around women's deep connection to this place, respun on a later loom as a lover's leap story. Compare, for example, Divya cave's Virgin sculpture with this phallic sculpture found in Norway. The face, rendering the Divyz stone a woman, may have been a much later modification to, like the legend, whitewash the memory of an older system of belief and ritual.

Kungur Ice Cave

The half mile long cave boasts ballooning ice formations which seem to glow with majestic colours as light from above filters through.
Inside the cave there is narrow path which is called “the women road.” The modern explanation for the name is that a long time ago a foreign princess fell down on this road. After she returned from the cave she got married. Therefore, they say that if a lady falls down on this road she will get married soon. Again, the echo of ancient ritual has been wedged into an expedient context.
The temperature inside Kungur Ice Cave does not rise above 0 degrees.
It's a fair guess that these are Russians, and Russians with vodka. 

Orda Water Cave

Orda Cave (Ординская, Ordinskaya) is a gypsum crystal cave found underneath the western Ural Mountains. Located near Orda village in Perm region, it is the biggest underwater gypsum crystal cave in the world. The mouth is near the shore of the Kungur River just outside Orda. The cave system stretches over 5.1 kilometres (3.2 mi) with around 4.8 kilometres (3.0 mi) over the overall length being under water. This makes it one of the longest underwater caves and the largest underwater gypsum cave in the world. It contains the longest siphon in the former Soviet Union (935 meters).

The mineral-rich area surrounding the cave filters the water and makes it very clear.

Komi Republic

Manpupuner Pillars

9 - The Ladoga Rosette and Bjarmaland

This body of water appears to be smaller than the Black Sea rosette. Whereas the Black Sea rosette depicts 13 days, the Ladoga Lake rosette shows only seven. A recent vehicle race around the lake took eight days, so navigating across its waters would take no more than seven.
Bjarmaland (also spelled Bjarmland and Bjarmia) was a territory mentioned in Norse sagas up to the Viking Age and beyond in geographical accounts until the 16th century. The term is usually seen to have referred to the southern shores of the White Sea and the basin of the Northern Dvina River (Vienanjoki in Finnish) and - presumably - some of the surrounding areas. Today, these territories comprise a part of the Arkhangelsk region of Russia.

In the account of the Viking adventurer Ottar who visited Bjarmaland in the end of the 9th century AD, the term "Beorm" is used for the people of Bjarmaland. According to the account, "Beormas" spoke a language related to that of the Sami people, and lived in an area of the White Sea region.

Accordingly, many historians assume the terms beorm and bjarm to derive from the Uralic word perm, which refers to "travelling merchants" and represents the Old Permic culture. However, some linguists consider this theory to be speculative.

The recent research on the Uralic substrate in northern Russian dialects suggests that several other Uralic groups besides the Permians lived in Bjarmaland, assumed to have included the Viena Karelians, Sami and Kvens. According to Helimski, the language spoken in the northern Archangel region ca. 1000 AD, which he terms Lop', was closely related to, but distinct from the Sami languages proper. This would fit Ottar's account perfectly.

Based on medieval sources, Bjarmaland's closest neighbor in the west was Kvenland. According to some medieval accounts and maps, Kvenland included also the Kola Peninsula north from Bjarmaland, as stated e.g. in the late 1150s' AD Leiðarvísir og borgarskipan in which the Icelandic Abbot Níkulás Bergsson writes that north from Värmland there are "two Kvenlands (Kvenlönd), which extend to north of Bjarmia (Bjarmalandi)".

Bjarmian trade reached south-east to Bolghar by the Volga River where the Bjarmians also interacted with Scandinavians andFennoscandians, who adventured southbound from the Baltic Sea area.

In 873 AD, according to the Egil's saga (written in c. 1240 AD) the Kvens and Norse cooperate in battling against the invading Karelians. The chapter XVII of Egil's saga describes how Thorolf Kveldulfsson (King of Norway's tax chief starting 872 AD) from Namdalen, located in the southernmost tip of the historic Hålogaland, goes to Kvenland again:

"That same winter Thorolf went up on the fell with a hundred men; he passed on at once eastwards to Kvenland and met King Faravid."

Based on medieval documents, the above meeting took place during the winter of 873-874 AD. Hålogaland's rather close vicinity to Kvenland is also demonstrated in c. 1157 AD in the geographical chronicle Leiðarvísir og borgarskipan by the Icelandic Abbot Níkulás Bergsson (Nikolaos), who provides descriptions of lands around Norway:

Closest to Denmark is little Svíþjóð (Sweden), there is Eyland (Öland); then is Gotland (Gotland); then Helsingaland (Hälsingland); then Vermaland (Värmland); then two Kvenlönd (Kvenlands), and they extend to north of Bjarmalandi (Bjarmia).


The name Bjarmaland appears in old Norse literature, possible for the area where Arkhangelsk is presently situated, and where it was preceded by a Bjarmian settlement. The first appearance of the name is in an account of the travels of Ohthere of Hålogaland, which was written in about 890.

The name Permian is found in the oldest Rus', Nestor's Chronicle (1000–1100). The names of other Uralic tribes are also listed including Veps, Cheremis, Mordvin, andChudes.

The place-name was also used later both by the German historian Adam of Bremen (11th century) and the Icelander Snorri Sturluson (1179–1241) in Bósa saga ok Herrauðs, reporting about its rivers flowing out to Gandvik. It's not clear if they reference the same Bjarmaland as was mentioned in the Voyage of Ohthere, however. The Bjarmian godJomali  is Finnic but the description of the god is more Siberian. Especially the crown adorned with twelve stars in gold is characteristic to Siberian shaman caps.

Olaus Magnus located Bjarmaland in the Kola Peninsula. while Johannes Schefferus (1621–1679) argued it was equal to Lappland.

Early contacts

A Norwegian map of the voyage of Ohthere

According to the Voyage of Ohthere, the Norwegian merchant Ottar (Ohthere) reported to king Alfred the Great that he had sailed for several days along the northern coast and then southwards, finally arriving at a great river, probably the Northern Dvina. At the estuary of the river dwelt the Beormas, who unlike the nomadic Sami peoples were sedentary, and their land was rich and populous. Ohthere did not know their language but he said that it resembled the language of the Sami people. The Bjarmians told Ohthere about their country and other countries that bordered it.

Later several expeditions were undertaken from Norway to Bjarmaland. In 920, Eirik Bloodaxe made a Viking expedition, as well as Harald II of Norway and Haakon Magnusson of Norway, in 1090.

The best known expedition was that of Tore Hund (Tore Dog) who together with some friends, arrived in Bjarmaland in 1026. They started to trade with the inhabitants and bought a great many pelts, whereupon they pretended to leave. Later, they made shore in secret, and plundered the burial site, where the Bjarmians had erected an idol of their god Jomali. This god had a bowl containing silver on his knees, and a valuable chain around his neck. Tore and his men managed to escape from the pursuing Bjarmians with their rich booty.


The Northern Land (Viktor Vasnetsov, 1899).
Modern historians suppose that the wealth of the Bjarmians was due to their profitable trade along the Northern Dvina, the Kama River and the Volga to Bolghar and other trading settlements in the south. Along this route, silver coins and other merchandise were exchanged for pelts and walrus tusks brought by the Bjarmians. In fact, burial sites in modern Perm Krai are the richest source of Sasanian and Sogdian silverware from Iran. Further north, the Bjarmians traded with the Sami.
It seems that the Scandinavians made some use of the Dvina trade route, in addition to the Volga trade route andDnieper trade route. In 1217, two Norwegian traders arrived in Bjarmaland to buy pelts; one of the traders continued further south to pass to Russia in order to arrive in the Holy Land, where he intended to take part in the Crusades. The second trader who remained was, however, killed by the Bjarmians. This caused Norwegian officials to undertake a campaign of retribution into Bjarmaland which they pillaged in 1222.
The 13th century seems to have seen the decline of the Bjarmians, who became tributaries of the Novgorod Republic. While many Slavs fled the Mongol invasion northward, to Beloozero and Bjarmaland, the displaced Bjarmians sought refuge in Norway, where they were given land around the Malangen fjord, by Haakon IV of Norway, in 1240. More important for the decline was probably that, with the onset of the Crusades, the trade routes had found a more westerly orientation or shifted considerably to the south.
When the Novgorodians founded Velikiy Ustiug, in the beginning of the 13th century, the Bjarmians had a serious competitor for the trade. More and more Pomors arrived in the area during the 14th and 15th centuries, which led to the final subjugation and assimilation of the Bjarmians by the Slavs.

Later Use

The collaborationist Quisling regime planned to build Norwegian colonies in Northern Russia following Operation Barbarossa to be named Bjarmaland but, it never came to be. Wikipedia

Vera Island

Cultic Place on Vera Island
In recent years, many megaliths have been discovered in the Urals: dolmens, menhirs and a large megalithic cultic complex on Vera Island in the Urals.
Megalith 1
Megalith 2

Typical dolmen found in the Urals, one of many

Poulnabrone Dolmen – the Burren in Ireland

Troldkirken , North Jutland. Langdysse.
This dolmen stands on a hight on the old coastal cliff
between Aalborg and Nibe, where Limfjorden then went all the way to the slope.

Perm Animal Style

Voynich corollaries to Perm Animal Style


  1. Har någon vågat tala om de uppgifterna om när de finno-urgiska större grupperna kom till Finland respektive Estland för Sannfinnarna?

  2. Thank you for your comment, Inger. From everything I have read, there was an extraordinary amount of exchange in goods, language, and genes between all the groups of Fennoscandia either by war or more peaceful means. I think the word "true" is maybe not quite the term we're looking for, as, in my opinion, anyone living in Finland these days is a true Finn. However, the people making this pilgrimage are honoring traditions that go back to the neolithic, and as a group, they are roughly referred to as Finno-Ugric. They do appear to predate, say Savo-Karelians in the area, etc., but that is not to say that a Savo-Karelian is not represented in this manuscript. I believe, judging from the incredibly diverse headdresses, these people included various tribes. What they had in common was this love of the old ways, which held out in the backwaters of places like Kainuu and Pohjanmaa for quite some time. What's so interesting is to see so much Old Norse interlaced with a Proto-Finnic tongue. Really fascinating.