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viktor trigub 03 февраля 2022, 11:00

Volodymyr Mezentsev (Canada), Yurii Sytyi (Ukraine)

Twenty years ago, Prof. Zenon E. Kohut, the former director of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (CIUS) at the University of Alberta, founded the project of archaeological and historical study of the early modern town of Baturyn, Chernihiv oblast, Ukraine. He oversaw this joint Canadian-Ukrainian undertaking from 2001 to 2014 and currently serves as its academic adviser and participates in the publication of the research results. The Baturyn project is affiliated with The Peter Jacyk Centre for Ukrainian Historical Research at CIUS Toronto Office ( Archaeologist Dr. Volodymyr Mezentsev, research associate of CIUS Toronto Office, is the Canadian executive director of this project.

In 2021, the archaeological and historical research of early modern Baturyn was supported with a generous grant from The Peter Jacyk Centre for Ukrainian Historical Research and the Dr. Bohdan Stefan Zaputovich and Dr. Maria Hrycaiko Zaputovich Endowment Fund at CIUS. The Ucrainica Research Institute (Orest Steciw, M.A., president) in Toronto also sponsors the Baturyn project. The Ukrainian Studies Fund in New York supports this project with annual subsidies. The Chernihiv Oblast State Administration during the 2005-21 and the Vasyl Tarnovsky Chernihiv Regional Historical Museum in 2013-21 funded excavations in this town with their grants.

The most generous private benefactors of the Baturyn study are the late poetess Volodymyra Wasylyszyn and her husband, artist Roman J. Wasylyszyn (Philadelphia, PA, USA), Dr. George J. Iwanchyshyn (Toronto), artist Ralph C. Roe II (Greenwich, CT), and Michael S. Humnicky (Murfreesboro, TN) in America. In 2020-21, the historical and archaeological explorations of Baturyn and the preparation of related publications were supported with donations from the National Executive and Toronto Branch of the League of Ukrainian Canadians, the National Executive and Toronto Division of the League of Ukrainian Canadian Women, the Kniahynia Olha Branch of the Ukrainian Women’s Association of Canada, the Ukrainian Credit Union Ltd., the BCU Foundation, the Prometheus Foundation, the Benefaction Foundation in Toronto, and the Zorya, Inc., Foundation in Greenwich, CT, USA.

Fig. 1. 17th-century Baturyn citadel, reconstructed on the basis of archaeological research in 2008. Aerial photo from the archives of the National Historical Preserve in Baturyn.

Due to the spread of the coronavirus in Ukraine, excavations in Baturyn continued on a limited scale this past summer. The 2021 archaeological team there consisted of 45 students, instructors, and scholars from the Chernihiv College National University, the Department of Archaeology at the Hetman Capital National Historical and Cultural Preserve in Baturyn, and the Hlukhiv Lyceum, Sumy oblast. Archaeologist Yurii Sytyi, senior fellow of the Centre for Archaeology and Early History of Northern Left-Bank Ukraine at the Chernihiv College National University, leads the annual Baturyn excavations. His assistant is archaeologist Oleksandr Tereshchenko, senior fellow of this Centre. Historian Serhii Dmytriienko (Chernihiv) is the graphic artist for the Baturyn project. Archaeologist Dr. Yurii Kovalenko, head of the Department of Scholarly Research at the Hlukhiv National Preserve and the member of the Baturyn archaeological team, has examined the excavated finds and consulted the authors of this article.

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From 1669 to 1708, Baturyn was the administrative and military capital of the Cossack state, or Hetmanate, in central Ukraine, under the suzerainty of the Russian Tsar (fig. 1). The town reached the peak of its development during the reign of the outstanding European-oriented Hetman Ivan Mazepa (1687-1709), who was well known and respected in the West. In 1707, Kaiser Joseph I of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation awarded this Ukrainian Cossack ruler the prestigious title of prince of this empire (Sacri Romani Imperii Princeps in Latin or Reichsfürst in German) for his vigorous defence of Christendom against Ottoman expansion.

Fig. 2. Hetman Ivan Mazepa’s coat of arms in relief on glazed ceramic tile from the facing of the stove at Pylyp Orlyk’s residence in Baturyn, 1707-8. Supplemented hypothetical reconstruction and computer graphics by S. Dmytriienko, 2021. Fig. 2. Hetman Ivan Mazepa’s coat of arms in relief on glazed ceramic tile from the facing of the stove at Pylyp Orlyk’s residence in Baturyn, 1707-8. Supplemented hypothetical reconstruction and computer graphics by S. Dmytriienko, 2021.

Mazepa was a champion of Byzantine-rite Christianity and an unrivalled founder and patron of Orthodox churches and monasteries in Ukraine as well as the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Ottoman Porte. Recent historical research has established that he and many other Cossack commanders were also generous benefactors and protectors of the Bulgarian Orthodox Zograf Monastery at Mount Athos, Greece. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the spiritual and cultural relations between this famous centre of Byzantine piety and Ukraine were particularly vibrant. During this period, many Ukrainian pilgrims visited the “Holy Mountain” and some joined the monastic community of Zograf. In 1696, 1701-5, the hegumen and monks of this monastery were hosted by Hetman Mazepa in Baturyn. He granted them generous donations, theological treatises and liturgical books printed in Church Slavonic in Kyiv and Chernihiv, as well as church-plates and other valuable gifts.

Fig. 3. Fragment of a terracotta lime-washed tile with the relief helmet surmounted by a prince’s crown from the composition of Mazepa’s heraldic emblem. 2018 excavation of the remnants of Orlyk’s home. Photo by Yu. Sytyi.

In 1708, with Sweden as an ally, Hetman Mazepa attempted to overthrow Moscow’s increasing control over central Ukraine, and proclaimed it an independent principality. That year, however, the Russian army put down Mazepa’s upraising and sacked and razed his insurgent capital of Baturyn to the ground.

After 1750, the devastated town was rebuilt. But following the abolition of the Cossack polity and its absorption into the Russian Empire in 1764, the former hetman capital steadily declined into an insignificant borough, while Ukraine remained stateless until 1991.

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In the course of the 2021 excavation, O. Tereshchenko discovered the remnants of two dwellings of Mazepa’s era, which were likely burned during the Russian onslaught on Baturyn in 1708. At the site of the former fortress, archaeologists also unearthed a group of seven sizeable pits for storing grain, dating to the 17th or 18th century. In 2003-4 and 2013, the team led by Yu. Sytyi excavated 25 similar grain pits in two locations within the fortress. He contends that they represented three state granaries prepared by Mazepa for supplying his capital in case of a siege and for the allied Swedish army. According to written sources, during the sack of Baturyn, tsarist troops plundered and burned large granaries, other provisions storehouses, and military depots.

Fig. 4. Mazepa’s relief arms on the 1695 gilded silver revetment of the Holy Theotokos Trinity–Saint Elijah icon. Chernihiv Historical Museum. Photo reprinted, with permission, from Ukraine – Sweden: At the Crossroads of History (XVII–XVIII Centuries), Kyiv, 2010, p. 80.

In 2017-20, in the town’s northwestern suburb, archaeologists partly uncovered the remnants of the residence of Chancellor General Pylyp Orlyk, the hetman’s personal secretary, closest collaborator and counsellor, and chargé d’affaires. After the failure of Mazepa’s anti-Moscow insurrection, in 1709 the hetman and his associates fled to Moldavia under the protection of the Ottoman Empire. Following Mazepa’s death, Orlyk was elected hetman-in-exile (1710-42). He headed the first wave of Ukrainian political emigration and continued his political and diplomatic efforts to liberate Ukraine from Russian rule. For many years, Orlyk resided in Thessaloniki, Greece, and maintained close connections with Ukrainian monks and pilgrims at Mount Athos.

Archaeological investigations have revealed that in 1707-8 Orlyk constructed a spacious one-storey log house in Baturyn, including several rooms and no basement. In 2017-18, O. Tereshchenko excavated the massive brick foundations of two ruined masonry stoves, each measuring 2.1 by 2.1 m. They could heat two comparatively large adjacent quarters: presumably a living room, a bedroom, and/or an office. Orlyk’s home burned down during the Muscovite destruction of Baturyn in 1708.

Fig. 2. Hetman Ivan Mazepa’s coat of arms in relief on glazed ceramic tile from the facing of the stove at Pylyp Orlyk’s residence in Baturyn, 1707-8. Supplemented hypothetical reconstruction and computer graphics by S. Dmytriienko, 2021.Amid its debris, archaeologists have found many shards of glazed ceramic, plain terracotta, and some lime-washed tiles of high technical and artistic quality from the stove facings. They are ornamented with elaborate floral, geometric, and heraldic relief motifs in the Ukrainian baroque style. In Yu. Sytyi’s view, Orlyk hired the best Baturyn tile-makers to decorate the stoves at his dwelling. Mazepa promoted the manufacture of architectural majolica in Ukraine, and this craft flourished in his capital.

Fig. 5. Armorial bearings of Mazepa, surrounded by weapons and the hetman’s insignias. Engraving from the 1697 Chernihiv publication.

Of special interest are a number of fragments of glazed ceramic and terracotta tiles featuring the uniquely designed relief family coats of arms of both Mazepa and Orlyk. Applying computer photo-collage and graphic techniques, S. Dmytriienko has prepared hypothetical reconstructions of the assemblages of broken and burnt heraldic tiles, and determined their size to approximately 30 by 30 cm. V. Mezentsev published and discussed these images in Canadio-Byzantina, No. 30 (January 2019), p. 12, fig. 3; and No. 31 (January 2020), pp. 13-14, fig. 5.

In the current issue, a more complete version of a hypothetical colour reconstruction of the costlier glazed stove tile with Mazepa’s armorial bearings in relief is presented (fig. 2). Below V. Mezentsev will examine the hetman’s insignias of princely status and military attributes depicted on this tile in a comparative analysis.

Above the helmet surmounting a baroque shield, the distinct relief of a stylised trefoil princely crown has been well preserved (figs. 2, 3). On top of this crown rests a tiny orb, itself surmounted by a cross—the symbol of power of a Christian monarch. Similarly fashioned crowns are represented on many early modern heraldic emblems, seals, and portraits of princes of Ukraine and Western countries. See, for instance, the crowns of the princes Ss. Hlib and Borys of Kyivan Rus’ portrayed in an engraving printed in Chernihiv in 1705 (fig. 6). In fact, the shape of these princely crowns in question is reminiscent of the mitre worn by Orthodox bishops or metropolitans of the Byzantine tradition (figs. 2, 3, 6-9).

In numerous pre-1707 compositions of Mazepa’s coat of arms, this particular type of crown is absent. Instead, they include smaller crowns or coronets, topped by three to five spikes or leaf-like ends, i.e., the standard heraldic symbol of nobility (e.g., fig. 6).

Fig. 6. Mazepa’s coat of arms with portraits of the Rus’ princes Ss. Hlib and Borys. Engraving illustrating the 1705 Chernihiv publication.

The above-described specific type of mitre-like trefoil crown appears only in two designs of Mazepa’s arms known to us that identify the hetman as a prince of the Holy Roman Empire, the title bestowed on him in 1707. One such engraving illustrates the Great and Universal Collection of Coats of Arms (trans. title from German) by Johann Siebmacher, published in Nuremberg, Germany, in 1884-87 (fig. 7). Most likely the princely armorial bearings of Mazepa were reprinted there from some 18th-century source.

A unique silver seal with Mazepa’s princely heraldic emblem is part of the collection of the Sheremet’iev Museum in Kyiv (fig. 8). Like the recreated stove tile featuring the hetman’s arms discovered in Baturyn, this seal has been dated to 1707-8. In the centre of the seal is a figured shield with the family heraldic symbols of Mazepa in relief inscribed. Above it is a nobleman’s crown, surmounted by five cloverleaf-shaped ends. Both the shield and the nobleman’s crown are draped by a stylized royal-purple mantle lined with ermine. Above the mantle is a relief trefoil prince’s crown, crested by a monarchic orb culminating in a cross. This motif closely resembles the regalia of princely authority depicted in relief on the Baturyn stove tile (cf. figs. 2, 3, 7, 8).

Fig. 7. Heraldic emblem of Mazepa as Prince of the Holy Roman Empire (Johann Siebmacher, Grosses und allgemeines Wappenbuch, vol. I. 3. III, Nürnberg, 1887, table 186).

Indisputably, the seal features the coat of arms of Hetman Mazepa, Prince of the Holy Roman Empire. V. Mezentsev and S. Dmytriienko have used this artefact as the basis for their hypothetical computer graphic colour reconstruction of his emblem as a prince of this empire (fig. 9). Thus, these analogies of the seal and the above-mentioned German engraving corroborate V. Mezentsev’s interpretation and dating of the synchronous Baturyn tile with armorial bearings of Mazepa as authentic visual evidence of his princely status since 1707.

This seal indicates that the Ukrainian Cossack elite in Baturyn was familiar with the heraldry of the princes of the Holy Roman Empire. However, the composition of Mazepa’s arms on the recreated tiles revetting the stoves in Orlyk’s home lacks the image of a royal ermine mantle, a characteristic heraldic element of the princes of this empire (cf. figs. 2, 7-9). Instead of a mantle, on these tiles a shield with Mazepa’s emblem is surrounded on all sides by stylised relief representations of various weapons, accoutrements, Cossack flags, banners, and standards, and the hetman’s insignias of power, i.e., maces, in the Ukrainian baroque style (figs. 2, 3). Had a royal ermine mantle been combined with this military paraphernalia, the composition of the tile would have been overloaded with details and illegible.

Fig. 8. Silver seal featuring Mazepa’s arms as Prince of the Holy Roman Empire, 1707-8. The Sheremet’iev Museum in Kyiv. Authorized publication of photos courtesy O. Sheremet’iev, owner of the museum collection.

1.Mezentsev believes that the designer of this tile featuring Mazepa’s coat of arms modelled it not on the heraldic emblems of princes of the Holy Roman Empire, but rather on earlier engravings and bas-reliefs depicting the hetman’s armorial bearings that had been created in Kyiv and Chernihiv and often abound with military motifs (e.g., figs. 4-6). He could also borrow the pattern of a trefoil prince’s crown from the best-known heraldry of Ukrainian, Polish, or Lithuanian princes. In 1707-8, the representation of a royal ermine mantle on their emblems was uncommon.

The closest model for this Baturyn tile was apparently a comparable composition of Mazepa’s coat of arms surrounded by many kinds of armaments, munitions, and the hetman’s regalia of power, hammered into relief on the gilded silver decorative revetment (the ryza, oklad, or shaty of the Byzantine tradition) of the icon of the Holy Theotokos Trinity–Saint Elijah (fig. 4). In 1695, Mazepa commissioned this precious adornment for the icon, which was then at the Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral in Chernihiv; presently it is part of the collection of the Chernihiv Regional Historical Museum. Similar military attributes surrounding various versions of the hetman’s heraldic emblem are depicted in numerous engravings that were printed in Kyiv and Chernihiv during his reign (e.g., figs. 5, 6).

Probably, at Orlyk’s behest, a professional draftsman from the leading Kyiv-Chernihiv art school used the above-mentioned local models to create the original pictorial designs of the stove tiles displaying his own and Mazepa’s armorial bearings. On the basis of these graphic originals, the master tile-makers of Baturyn carved the wooden moulds for fashioning the clay tiles (figs. 2, 3).

Fig. 9. Armorial bearings of Mazepa as Prince of the Holy Roman Empire. Hypothetical reconstruction, based on his seal, 1707-8, by V. Mezentsev and S. Dmytriienko, computer graphics by S. Dmytriienko, 2021.

In sum, this comparative analysis shows that the heraldic and decorative composition of the recreated Baturyn tile reflects the artistic influences of Kyiv and Chernihiv, the two principal and oldest cultural, educational, publishing, and ecclesiastical urban centres of early modern central Ukraine. The rare stove tiles found at Orlyk’s residence in Baturyn (1707-8) are prized examples of Ukrainian baroque applied and heraldic arts. Their reconstruction and study provide an important insight into the heraldry, culture, and Western contacts of the Cossack elite in the hetman capital, particularly into the hitherto little-known design and adornments of Mazepa’s princely coat of arms and its Ukrainian prototypes. The Canadian and Ukrainian researchers of Baturyn plan to conduct more extensive excavations there next summer.

The first shorter version of this article was published in the bulletin Canadio-Byzantina, No. 33, University of Ottawa, January 2022, pp. 15-22.


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