Heraldry (геральдика; heraldyka). The science and art dealing with hereditary insignia distinguishing individuals, institutions, and corporations, specifically with their origin and evolution and the rules governing their forms and use. As an ancillary historical discipline, heraldry is closely related to archeology, genealogy, paleography, numismatics, and sphragistics. (See also Coat of arms.)

Symbolic emblems were commonly used in patriarchal societies to designate the possessions of the clan. With the rise of feudalism and the emergence of private property, emblems were used to represent individual families or houses. The oldest signs were elementary symbols such as the cross (more than 200 forms are known in heraldry), the swastika, the square, the lozenge, the circle, and other simple signs mostly symbolizing the sun. In Ukraine, letter-like signs are also known. They were probably of Gothic origin, although some may possibly be relics of ancient Slavic writing. The oldest Ukrainian emblems have been found on pottery from the 8th century, while crests and emblems of some princely and boyar families date back to the 10th century. Family emblems are mentioned frequently in Ruskaia Pravda (11th century), where they are called rizy, mity, and p’iatna. Many of these were based on a monogram of the family name. Crests of noble families were already widespread in the Principality of Galicia-Volhynia.

In the 15th and 16th centuries Western European heraldry—particularly in the form that it developed in Poland—began to strongly influence Ukrainian heraldry. Typical symbols such as the star, crescent, flowers, and weapons, as well as heraldic beasts and birds (eg, the lion, unicorn, horse, deer, griffin, eagle, stork, and raven), appeared in Ukrainian crests, often alongside older symbols. Most Ukrainian nobles in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (the Ostrozky family, the Zasławski family, the Zbaraski family, etc) had family crests, many of which can be found in the earliest published collections (eg, Bartłomiej Paprocki’s Panosza [1575] and Herby rycerstwa polskiego [1584] and J. Siebmacher’s Allgemeines grosses und vollstüandiges Wappenbuch ... [1637]). In the 17th and 18th centuries many Cossack starshyna also adopted crests. These often stressed military motifs, and under the influence of the baroque became very elaborate. As some of these families and individuals rose to prominence in the Russian Empire, popular symbols from Russian heraldry were incorporated (eg, the crest of the Rozumovsky family includes two humble Cossacks as well as the two-headed eagle symbolizing the Russian throne). In the late 18th century many of the starshyna and older noble families sought to have their crests recognized by the imperial authorities.

The study of heraldry contributes to the understanding of family and national traditions and relations. Heorhii Narbut illustrated several collections of Ukrainian and Russian crests, as well as the journal Gerboved, published in Saint Petersburg (1913–14). Vladislav Lukomsky, Vadym Modzalevsky, and Hryhorii Myloradovych made many contributions to heraldry in Ukraine in the early 20th century, as have the émigrés M. Bytynsky, Viacheslav Seniutovych-Berezhny, Vadym Shcherbakivsky, Volodymyr Sichynsky, and Mykhailo Miller. In the 1980s heraldry gained considerable popularity in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic as an ancillary historical discipline.

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Narbut, G. Gerby getmanov Malorossii (Petrograd 1915)
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Drachuk, V. Rasskazyvaet geral'dika (Moscow 1977)
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Mykhailo Miller

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 2 (1988).]

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