Paleography (палеографія; paleohrafiia). The study of writing, writing materials, and manuscript ornamentation, and illustration. An ancillary discipline of philology and history, Ukrainian paleography focuses on the study of ancient documents and manuscripts written in Ukrainian; in a wider sense it includes all written artifacts created in Ukraine. The related disciplines of epigraphy, sphragistics, and numismatics focus on ancient inscriptions on materials or buildings (graffiti). Ukrainian paleography is concerned with various aspects of the evolution of the graphic form of the letters of the Ukrainian alphabet and other written symbols, including their constituent elements, systems of abbreviation, and graphic delineation. It also concerns the materials and instruments used in writing. Scholars of practical paleography examine manuscripts and establish the time and place of their composition. They are sometimes able to establish the authorship of a document.

Paleographic study of manuscripts also involves charting the history of orthography (abbreviations, punctuation, diacritical marks, the use of particular letters). Slavic paleography is divided into the study of texts written in the Glagolitic alphabet and Cyrillic alphabet (and Latin alphabet for Catholic Slavs). Successive forms of the Cyrillic alphabet were the ustav script (uncial, 11th–16th centuries), large and small pivustav script (14th–18th centuries), and skoropys (shorthand, 16th–18th centuries), as well as ornamental viazi (ligatures) and relatively rare cryptograms. Since the 1950s the writing of recent decades has also become an object of paleographic research.

The oldest manuscripts were written on parchment. When paper was introduced in the 14th century (initially a cotton rag, bombitsyna), each paper factory imprinted its products with distinguishing watermarks (filigrany); the study of these made the dating of manuscripts easier. In the 11th to 15th centuries confidential memorandums were written (particularly in Novgorod the Great and Belarus) on birch bark. Ornamented (see Ornament) and illuminated (see Illumination) manuscripts can be dated according to the designs they bear. Depictions of fantastic or monstrous beasts, for example, were in vogue in the 13th century, geometric designs and more naturalistic images of flora and fauna in the late 14th century, and woven and plaited floral designs in the 15th century.

Slavic paleographic scholarship began to develop in the late 18th century and emerged in institutions devoted to archeography and the collection and description of manuscripts. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries descriptions of collections of Ukrainian manuscripts were published, including outlines by Mykola I. Petrov (1875–9) and A. Lebedev (1916) on the collection of the Kyiv Theological Academy; by M. Lileev on that of the Chernihiv Theological Academy (formely Chernihiv College); V. Berezin, that of the Pochaiv Monastery (1881); M. Popruzhenko, that of the Odesa Municipal Library (1890); H. Kryzhanivsky, that of the Volhynia eparchy depository of ancient manuscripts (1896) and V. Trypilsky, that of the Poltava eparchy depository (1909); Mikhail Speransky, that of the Nizhyn Lyceum (1900, 1905); Ilarion Svientsitsky, those of the People's Home in Lviv (1904) and Stauropegion Institute (1908); Serhii Maslov, that of Kyiv University (1910); O. Rystenko, that of the Odesa Society of History and Antiquities (1910); S. Shchehlova (1916) and Danylo Shcherbakivsky (1923), that of the Kyiv City Museum of Antiquities and Art; M. Heppener, that of the Central Scientific Library of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR (now NANU; 1969); and Yaroslav Dashkevych, that of the Central State Historical Archive in Lviv (1972).

Vasilii Mochulsky (1890) and Fedir Petrun (1927) researched the collections of Viktor Hryhorovych, and Ilarion Svientsitsky, those of Antin Petrushevych (1906–11); Osyp Bodiansky (1838) and Oleksander Hruzynsky (1911–12) studied the Peresopnytsia Gospel.

Denys Zubrytsky, one of the founders of Ukrainian paleography, published an album of autographs of Ukrainian historical figures. Ivan Kamanin was the first to apply the decimal system of classification, particularly for dating manuscripts (1905). P. Vladimirov and Ivan Ohiienko published studies of Ukrainian manuscripts from the 11th to 17th centuries (1890). Volodymyr Peretts established a school of archeography and collected materials for a catalog of Ukrainian manuscripts. Scholars of regional script included Kateryna Lazarevska (Kyiv, 1926), P. Bohdan (Bukovyna, 1956), P. Zakharchyshyna (Lviv, 1964), Z. Khomutetska and V. Chuntulova (Kremianets, 1964), and I. Ivanytska (Slobidska Ukraine, 1965, 1968).

General studies of the development of the graphics of Ukrainian writing were published by Teodor Titov (1911), O. Maslova (1925), Yevhen Tymchenko (1927), Vadym Diadychenko (1963), V. Panashenko (1974), and Maksym Boiko (1982). Monographs on the ornamentation and illumination of Ukrainian manuscripts were published by Ilarion Svientsitsky (1922–3, 1933), Danylo Shcherbakivsky (1926), Yakym Zapasko (1960), V. Siverska (1966), and Hryhorii Lohvyn (1974). Watermarks on Ukrainian manuscripts were researched by Ivan Kamanin and O. Vytvytska (1923), A. Geraklitov (1963), and O. Matsiuk (1974).

Sreznevskii, I. Slavianorusskaia paleografiia XI-XIV vv. (Saint Petersburg 1885)
Vladimirov, P. Obzor iuzhnorusskikh i zapadnorusskikh pamiatnikov pis’mennosti ot XI do XVII st. (Kyiv 1890)
Kamanin, I. Paleograficheskii izbornik (Kyiv 1899)
Beliaev, I. Prakticheskii kurs izucheniia drevnei russkoi skoropisi dlia chteniia rukopisei XV–XVIII st., 2nd edn (Moscow 1911)
Matsiuk, O. Papir ta filihrani na ukraïns'kykh zemliakh (XVI–pochatok XX st.) (Kyiv 1974)
Panashenko, V. Paleohrafiia ukraïns'koho skoropysu druhoï polovyny XVII st. (Na materialakh Livoberezhnoï Ukraïny) (Kyiv 1974)
Riznyk, M. Pys'mo i shryft (Kyiv 1978)
Boiko, M. Paleography and Paper-Mills in Volhynia (Bloomington, Ind 1979)
———. Paleographical Outline (Bloomington, Ind 1982)

Serhii Bilokin, Oleksa Horbach

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (1993).]

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