Thursday, June 22, 2017

Permian Animal Style and early non-Church manuscripts

This is the long answer to a question asked in the comments section of the Questions List.

The Permian Animal Style

The Permian style survived well into the 13thc, and never completely vanished. In the spring of 2001 the water level in the channel of Sofjanga connecting Pjaozero and Topozero lakes (Kumskoye reservoir) sank, exposing the Sofporog Discoveries: 10 bronze thongs and their fragments; and a flat rustling bird-shaped pendant with eyelets, two appendages - one with a small bell, another with a paw, perhaps, from other articles. These decorations dating back to 12-13 centuries are undoubtedly of northeast origin. Most likely, the center of their manufacturing were the Volga region of Kostroma and Kama region, from there they came to northwest territories.To the same period can be attributed a horseshoe fibula with two small heads. Such fibulas are often discovered in so-called Lappish (Sami) monuments in the north of Sweden. These monuments could in fact be Kven, who shared Finnic lingual roots with the Sami and who often enslaved and collected taxes from the Sami.

The conic rustling pendant with three small bell appendages characteristic for monuments of northern Finno-Ugrian territories of 12-13 centuries kept well, they are known in Ladoga lakeside tumuli, however the greatest number of similar finds is related to monuments of the Volga region of Kostroma. They were used as female belt decorations attached to the belt by laces.

Three elements of a chain - branches - with loops on both ends are also among finds of the medieval period - in Ladoga lakeside female burial of 11-12 centuries, in the north of Sweden, in Ancient Karelian sites of ancient settlements of Paaso, Tiversk, etc.

Certain repeated motifs of the Perm animal style cannot but make you wonder, such as, for instance, elk-headed men, three-eyed goddesses, and birds of prey with a human face on the chest.

Permian bronze casts were produced by the Komi and Udmurt people between the 4th and the 14th centuries. Their style is referred to as the 'Permian animal style.' In the 10th century A.C. the Perm animal style degraded but left an impact on the development of art of the Ural peoples: its traits were inherited and preserved in embroidering, weaving, fur mosaics, and wooden sculpture. To this day, Russian folk distaffs reflect the tripartite cosmic world often seen in Perm animal style.

Early Manuscripts outside of the Judeo-Christian Canon

Manuscripts outside the canon do exist; Christian monks were not the only people writing from antiquity forward.

According to scholars who are the followers of Shakhmatov, Russian Chronicles were systematically being conducted since the middle of the 11th century. There were two centers of Russian Chronicle conducted in the early period: Kiev (the capital of early Rus') and Novgorod. A result of Kievan and Novgorodian chronicle records of 11th century was Primary Chronicle (of the beginning of the 12th century), and also text containing in Novgorod First Chronicle. The Primary Chronicle survives in Laurentian and Hypatian chronicles (codices).

Icelandic laws were first written down in about 1120, and at about the same time, Ari the Learned wrote his Book of the Icelanders (Íslendingabók), describing the country's governmental structure and history from the settlement to his own day. It is likely that the first version of the Book of Settlements (Landnámabók) was compiled round about the same date.

The old Icelandic annals tell that the Black Death came to Bergen, Norway, in 1349 with a ship from England on which all the passengers had died but the rats. From this hapless visitation, Norway lost roughly a third of its population, and from Norway, the plague spread to Sweden and into Russia by 1351. Norway was so devastated that the very language that people spoke died off, replaced later with Danish, and to this day controversy surrounds Bokmal and Nynorsk, neither of which is purely what the people used to speak. Old Kven barely survived the plague and has since died out everywhere but in some place names.

The Saga of Erik the Red is thought to have been composed before 1265, on the Norse exploration of North-America.

In addition, a previously unknown letter of Robert the Bruce, addressed to the king of England, has been found in a British Library manuscript. The letter was written in 1310, and reveals how, when faced with an English army marching into Scotland, Robert made an eloquent appeal to King Edward II, asking for peace on the understanding that Scottish independence be recognised. To this day, many Scots are striving for Scottish independence.

The question isn't whether people wrote but whether their writings survived Christianization, which could be a pretty bloody business with many temples destroyed and built over, many sacred wells confiscated and renamed, and laws created to kill people who practiced anything other than what the Church condoned. There is even today an overarching bias in most academic studies toward Classicism and Judeo-Christian culture, so much so that artifacts and manuscripts that lie outside of the canon are often overlooked and dismissed as inconsequential. Many of these sit in libraries hardly known to this day. For example, only in 2015 was the oldest copy of the Quran found at a British university library. The same year, a twelfth-century copy of the 'Consolation of Philosophy' by Boethius, a statesman of the late Roman Empire, in the University of Glasgow's Special Collections was found by Dr Kylie Murray, a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow from the English Faculty and Balliol College, Oxford. Although charter culture in twelfth-century Scotland is well researched, Scotland's literary culture in this period has been deemed lost or non-existent because of a lack of surviving evidence. Literary scholars of Scotland have instead focused on the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Identifying the manuscript as a product of David I's Scottish kingdom means that Boethius was being read in Scotland 300 years earlier than previously thought.

Even within certain convents and monasteries the Church had limited influence in places like Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Karelia, and Estonia. Two instances in which Rome had a greatly reduced influence are the Cult of St. Birgitta (not Brigid) and the Culdees. The Seto in particular practice the same pre-Christian rituals they've practiced for at least a thousand years.

The Voynich manuscript appears to be created in the same vein as a Zibaldone, e.g. the Z da Canal. Voynich text is probably made up of rune songs, which were very old and only handed down orally for centuries until someone apparently thought to write them down. Many of these rune songs have survived to the present day and are sung by Finno-Ugric and Nordic descendants. To this day, Kvens and their history strive to be recognized by the governments of Norway and Sweden.

I'm not sure that the writer of the Voynich was literate the way we think of literacy, and I would venture to guess that whatever language it is written in, the words are written phonetically, with few ties to an established spelling and grammar system. The text lacks a "the" the way Norse lacks that article or rather builds it in on the ends of words: (cat - katt, the cat - katten). Many words end in "er" which in the Norse languages connotes plural (cats - katter). Many of the roots of words keep going back to Finnish. So the best candidate, still, according to my research, is the old Kven tongue or some Finno-Norse equivalent.

The Kvens of Kvenland or Terra Feminarum had a pretty sophisticated culture that gave birth to much of Scandinavia and Finland, including, it could be argued, their founding royalty. They were seamen, fishermen, traders, trappers, metal workers, and very likely to have dabbled extensively in shamanism, which earned them, along with all Finns, a reputation as formidable sorcerers. They were also somehow largely wiped out of history and remain to this day a mystery. I believe, however, that Louhi may be a sort of archetypal Kven deemed wicked by invaders from the south and east of the Gulf of Bothnia.

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