What is the historical significance of the Tryzub to Ukrainian diaspora?

What is the historical significance of the Tryzub to Ukrainian diaspora?

The Tryzub appears on the coat of arms of Ukraine. What is its historic significance to the diaspora?

I am aware this is the symbol of the sea god Poseidon of Greek mythology, for this reason I wonder if this symbolic meaning is shared or if there may also be any significances with Slavic paganism.

The oldest antecedent on Wikipedia is Sviatoslav's. It doesn't much resemble a trident.

Vladimir the Great added the middle element, according to the list of historical coats of arms:

About the present coat of arms:

The trident was not thought of as a national symbol until 1917, when one of the most prominent Ukrainian historians, Mykhailo Hrushevsky, proposed to adopt it as a national symbol

This diagram shows the development of the Rurikid's coat of arms. Some suggest the Tryzub depicts a descending bird of prey. Looking at all of these symbols together does give the impression of this.

Any symbol that predates Christianity probably is pagan. Whether it's Slavic or Nordic gets messy, though. It's suggested that the trident has Christian symbolism in reference to the trinity. This would make sense to me because Vladimir of Kiev christianized the Rus. It was him who added the middle part, making it a trident.

The adoption of the symbol in 1917 is certainly a reference to this Rurikid dynasty of Kiev. The origins of the Ukranian people actually began with the breakup of that principality, though. This is when regional differences in language began and Kiev struggled with Russian princes to the north and east (1).

(1) Vernadsky, George. Kievan Russia. Yale University Press, 1948 p. 215

It indeed comes from medieval Kiev. Here is a coin of Vladimir with the Tryzub:

The original meaning of this symbol is disputed. Some think that this is a trident (weapon) and others that this is a predatory bird falling on its prey. The meaning for Ukraine is clear: they trace their historical roots to Kievan Rus, so they adapted the coat of arm from the early princes of Kievan Rus.

According to church tradition Saint Andrew the apostle passed by the Black Sea. it was the beginning of Kyievian tradition however the conversion of the Slavs officially started with Saint Helen of Kyiv (before baptism she was known as Olga/Olha).

As for your question "I am aware this is the symbol of the sea god Poseidon of Greek mythology"

The Greek missionaries (priests) when the Pope sent them to Ukraine and Russia ¹ they used the Trident of Poseidon to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity since in that they had a similarity ² This is how God gave the gift of Faith to Ukraine thanks to Saint Helen of Kyiv (before she was baptized she was called Olha of Kiev)³ and her nephew Saint Vladimir Svyatoslavich (Ukranian pronounced as Volodymyr) who converted the slavs ⁴

Similar to how saint Patrick in Ireland he used the shamrock to explain the symbol of the Holy Trinity

If you would like to know more you can also ask a Ukrainian Greek Catholic priest (they are fully of orthodox spirituality and liturgy only in communion with Saint Peter in Rome)

There is also a book that talks about it briefly called "Church History" - Fr. John Laux, M.A. When you combine both knowledge east and west rites history of Christian Catholic orthodoxy then it makes sense. This is why I say it is best you ask a Ukrainian Greek Catholic priest since they know better this part of history.

I am not a Ukrainian nor Russian however I love both cultures and traditions (communism/socialism Soviet Union is not a tradition nor culture it is something else that oppressed both nations, cultures , and it tried to first eradicate religion and then later it tried to disintegrate it but could not since our Lady protected those that were loyal to her son and her and the church, it tried to eradicate other cultures it oppressed but that is an entirely different matter and subject) Going back to your question Ukraine and Russia have beautiful cultures history heritage and spirituality.

Tryzub is unique to Ukraine but it is also essential for Slavic cultures particularly in Ukraine and Russia the Greeks helped them understand that there is one single God in three person not three gods. Similar as in the way Saint Patrick in Ireland explained there is three leaves in one single shamrock and it is the same plant same source of life.

  1. Conversion of the Slavs, Sts Cyrillic and Methodius the Apostles of the Slavs, St. Olga and Vladimir the Great convert the Russians .” Church History A Complete History of the Catholic Church to the Present Day" by Fr. John Laux, TAN BOOKS AND PUBLISHERS, INC, 1945, pp. 280-285.

  2. Zhukovsky, Arkadii. Trident, Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine, 1993, www.encyclopediaofukraine.com/display.asp?linkpath=pages%5CT%5CR%5CTrident.htm.

I personally have not read "Poiasnennia tryzuba" But since the author cited it I am passing that source along: 2. Pasternak, Onufrii. Poiasnennia tryzuba, herba Velykoho Kyïvs'koho Kniazia Volodymyra Sviatoho (Uzhhorod 1934; repr, Kyiv 1991)"

  1. Zhdan, Mykhailo, and Arkadii Zhukovsky. Olha, Princess, Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine

Additional source to support # 3. Pritsak, O. 'When and Where Was Ol'ga Baptized?' HUS, 9 (1985)

4.Lencyk, Wasyl. “11 Facts about Day of Christianization of Kievan Rus.” Ukraine Celebrates the Day of Christianization of Kievan Rus, Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine, 112.international/politics/ukraine-is-celebrating-the-day-of-christianization-of-kievan-rus-7716.html.

These other sources below I have not read it but i will still post it since it was within the article 4. Nazarko, I. Sviatyi Volodymyr Velykyi, Volodar i Khrystytel' Rusy-Ukraïny (960-1015) (Rome 1954)

  1. Polons'ka-Vasylenko, N. Istoriia Ukraïny, 1 (Munich 1972)

that being said you do not have to believe me you can talk to any Ukrainian-Greek Catholic priest ,or Russian Greek Catholic priest and he will help you clarify and even correct my mistakes.

I am not Ukrainian Greek, nor Russian Greek However I am very fascinated by their respective cultures and heritages and admire both countries and peoples. I am not saying nor implying is same culture nor same country. each one is it's culture and heritage yet spiritually Ukrainian spirituality is very important to Russia because Ukraine as you can see through this source God used them as the fathers that taught Russia the faith God used the Greeks to bring the faith to the Slavs (saint Andrew came to preach the Greeks as well).

That is not a myth that is a fact. there is many similarities because of Christian customs yet each one has their respective culture and sovereignty. spirituality they are connected one to another but a priest can explain the history way much better than I can.

Tryzub (Ukrainian Trident)

The Tryzub (pronounced “treh-zoob”) is the ubiquitous symbol of Ukraine. The ancient symbol is believed to have originated as a tribal symbol today it is emblazoned on the country’s flag, on postage, money, business logos, even Easter eggs! The highly stylized version seen almost everywhere in Ukraine originated as the family crest of Volodymyr, a tenth century Ukrainian Prince.

Today, the tryzub is worn as a symbol of national pride, as a symbol of the Christian trinity, or as a synthesis of the divine elements of fire and water in the manifest world.

This is most astounding, TRIZUB is the national flag, symbol of bravery!
Trisul is the symbol / spiritual weapon of SIVA in Indian (Vedic) culture.

No wonder, Ukraniens are so brave!! Hurray!

It’s also simbol of RUNVira – ukrainian reformed slavic pagan religion.

means VOLYA Ukrainian for freedom in various cyrilic pieces

This is also the crest of the settler Rurik. He settled modern day Novorgod by invading through the baltic rivers. The Rurik dynasty ruled throughout modern western Russia and modern day Ukraine up until the great Mongol Horde arrived in the late 12th century.

It´s also made of word воля (freedom)

I also have both side of my Great Grandparents come to the State in the late 1898, the Jacob Zagrodny went to Canada then on the the States through Detroit were my Grandmother Browslawa ZagRodny settled with her three children. On my fathers side my Grandfather Michal Zastawny came to New York where he met his sister, then on to Sheffelf, PA. To work the coal mines he met my Grandmother Anna Czwakiel while repairing her fathers roof. I don’t speak Ukrainian my two older sisters did go to Imaccaulate Conception in Hamtramack, Mi then to Girls Catholic Central for high school. If anyone knows my surnames history please contact me

Your surname Cossack origin. Old, not infrequently common in Russia and Ukraine. Denotes the border guard.

I will always remember that TRYZUB means hundred thousand Polish people murdered by Ukrainians Nationalists (UPA) with Tryzub as their symbol.

yup becaus eyour poles tried to take Ukraine again,,after the Austrians were defeated by Russia ,,and the Poles tried to snap it up when Ukraine struggled and lost so many thousands of Ukrainians in wars with Polan and Austrian oppression Russian etc Turks ,Mongols . Poles should have backe off when Ukraine was clearlt trying to get its independence back, Poles and Ukrainians are both to blame for brabaric innocent murders ,,shame like today Ukraine vs Russian agression,,Slavs against Slavs ,,all about money and power,,Ukraine was for Freedom that was stolen so many times from them,,like Putin today anexing Crimea and war in east Ukraine 9000 dead 3 million displaced Ukrainians ..lost all they owned ..bomed out to nothing. another massive east war with more Russian weapons than Natos Germany and France and Czehks combined could harness together for war,,but Ukraine manages to fight back,,volunteers from every village all over Ukraine giving up their jobs and lives at stake!! Slav Ukraina ,, hard research and education helps truly please. I liove Poland and Poles ,im half Ukrainian,

Its the same as the ancient Vedic symbol known as Tryzul / Trishul – which represents the Trident symbol of Shiva.

why is this classed as a viking, norse, asatru symbol?

Many symbols appear in multiple categories. The aim is not to be terribly specific, but to allow people to most easily locate a symbol.

Because this is symbol of Ukraine nowadays, Ukraine enemy of Russia, Russia enemy of West and anglosax.This site isn’t unpolitical.

Question. I’m of Ukrainian ancestry – third generation Canadian. Always knew the tryzub to be a Ukranian symbol.
Just returned from a vacation in Sicily. Started to research stuff from the Lampedusa novel ‘the Leopard’ and was looking up ‘bersagleri’ – an Italian and now largely Sicilian militia. A lot of the regiments have the tryzub on their coat of arms. What gives?

You had me totally thrown for a minute- that is definitely a tryzub. This appears to be a credible and logical explanation:

The units that made it back to Axis lines and were raised again after the War, were allowed to add the Ukrainian Tryzub to their Coat of Arms if they had won a Medal of Military Valor during the Italian campaign in the Soviet Union.

Looks like there are quite a number who use the tryzub.

The Italian Army heraldry allows units to add symbols to their Coat of Arms for every Medal of Military Valor awarded to the unit. These symbols correspond to the countries/territories were the Medal of Valor was acquired. During World War II the 8th Army was sent to fight on the Eastern Front. This Army was almost entirely destroyed during Operation Little Saturn. The units that made it back to Axis lines and were raised again after the War, were allowed to add the Ukrainian Tryzub to their Coat of Arms if they had won a Medal of Military Valor during the Italian campaign in the Soviet Union. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Coat_of_arms_of_Ukraine)

100% American and I see the Tryzub as symbol of a great people. I’ve been to Ukraine twice and each time I have come to love the people more and more. I proudly display the Tryzub in honor of my wife, 100% Ukrainian (Simferopol).

Я не український, але років тому бачив українських емігрантів у США літаючі український прапор з Тризуб красується на це. Я не знаю, як це називається, але бачив, як птах у польоті вниз, і згадав Матвія 3:16, «як тільки Ісус був хрещений, він піднявся з води. У цей момент небо відкрилося, і побачив Іван Духа Божого, що спускався, як голуб, і освітлення на нього. «Поки я вирішив зробити деякі дослідження, я завжди бачив, як голуб. і це присутність на цей прапор, як українські засланців висловити свою християнську опозицію до радянської тиранії, з якої вони втекли. (Переклад Google.)

I am not Ukrainian, but years ago saw Ukrainian immigrants to the U.S.A. flying a Ukrainian flag with the Tryzub emblazoned on it. I didn’t know what it was called, but saw it as a bird in downward flight, and remembered Matthew 3:16, “As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him.” Until I decided to do some research, I always saw it as that dove. and it’s presence on that flag as Ukrainian exiles expressing their Christian opposition to the Soviet tyranny from which they fled.

I an ukrainian Both parents came from Ukraine
I was told that the symbol of the tryzub was adopted by St Volodimir as a representation of the dove and the Holy Spirit.

its a Norse symbol that resembles Poseidon’s trident and was first used by Rurik (aka the founder of Novgorod and predecessor to the ruling dynasty of The Kyivan Rus) and would be used by almost every Ukrainian state or host since. including Green Ukraine in the Russian far east.

I am fresh Canadian. From Ukraine 2 years past. I love Ukraine and I love Canada. Canada has money. Money helps lives better. ‘tryzub’ stand for freedom. Break from those crazy Communists and forever on black list. One day in future, the oppressors must pay. Doont lose track of heritage, love for Ukraine, and past disrespects towards Ukrainians.

i read every comment here and have been doing research on the symbol
before i get it permanantly inked on me. i’m 17 and have recently been getting
really into culture through generations of Ukrainian backgrounds. I was born in
- I just wanted to say that there shouldn’t be so much hate and fighting and
douchebaggery about this peacefull symbol.
Live long Ykpaïha!

Just got it inked on my leg today

i am ukrainian and both parnts lived their untill they were 30 so i have heard many things about the tryzub i have a shirt of it and i totally agree with iryna. and ya when i see those bumper stickers im mad proud that im ukrainian. Be ukrainian!

саркастичний чоловік, YOU ARE THE MAN AND A REAL HOHOL. The rest are like you said douche bags. They have no concept of the country and actually look down on people who are from Ukraine. These so cold “Ukrainczi” are full of empty partitism that only serves to make themselves feel better about their doucheness. All the dump religious and racist shit that they believe should be tossed in the garbage along with their ideas about Ukraine.

Its not about what the symbol means in history who cares about history its something for people to find there own meaning in and also to remember ALL the meanings it has and will have, it represents everything ukrainian even perogies!

I just got it tattood on me inside of a canadian leaf ukrainians are famous for their family ties and i got it not only to show respect to my heritage on both sides but to my family members, iv never been to the ukraine but i think that this tattoo and my last name make me pretty ukrainian and call me a douchebag but i think it is an amazing symbol and when i do go to ukraine i will be able to show not only my ukrainian pride but the tryzub adds that much more to my canadian pride as well

I have read everyones comment and Iryna said it the best . There is a documentary on how 6 million Ukrainians where murdered, children, mothers , fathers , grandparents and how U.S would not step in to help, it saddens me, as just being 1 person, I can’t fight the world. I also have a tatoo of the tryzub and am very proud of it. I wish the Ukrainians would of stuck together as a whole in the United States, I grew up in Hamtramck with the Polish, learned both Langauges and very proud. Stay Proud

There’s no reason for argument, although very interesting read. My parents both from the Ukraine gave me a tryzub when I was young. Now I want to tattoo it on my wrist…in honor of my Baba’s passing. She supported her sisters and brother in Ukraine for 50 years from the United States. I can’t wait to go visit my family there someday. Thanks for the meanings!

As a Ukrainian, you should be proud to see the tryzub anywhere, I know I am! This is a symbol of strength, Christianity & the unity of our people. How dare you call fellow Ukrainians douche bags for placing this beloved symbol on their vehicle. They are taking pride in their heritage! I hope that one day I am able to go to Ukraine and indulge in my rich heritage as opposed to the bits and pieces that we see around in other parts of the world. Slava i Volya !

I who am only fourteen and moved to U.S. very recently can still clearly remember what the tryzub means because it was beat into my head with a stick so unlike all of you who have forgot what it really stands for I still remember and I agree with Natalia
the symbol stand for letters which spells out its meaning.

i would like to thankyou all for the info on the tryzub except that fool who was showing no respect for Ukrainian people, my grandad came from Ukraine and had to leave his home which he loved so very much to fight in the war.He never got to go back home and i saw in his eyes for many years the sadness of this.One day i hope to visit his beloved Ukraine. Sadly for me my grandad passed away 17yrs ago so i never got to find out more about his homeland and traditions so now as an adult and mother i am trying to find out as much about Ukraine as i can so i can keep it alive in our family, i am proud that my grandad was Ukrainian.

Strength,Unity & Freedom… History show’s of all..

Im ukrainian and was raised in an orphange and i love where i came from even though it was tough. but i take pride in my heritage. i have a tattoo of the tryzub and i was raised also by the meaning as unity democracy and christianity. I FUCKIN LOVE UKRAINIANS!

саркастичний чоловік is a durak obviously. The tryzub is something we Ukrainians are very proud of even those that have not been to Ukraina. My tryzub is the one with the sword in middle. Yes, the tryzub date back as our pysanka to pre-christianity. Please join me on FaceBook if you want to be a friend, George Yurko Variat. Slava i Volya.

I may not live in Ukraine but I am very proud to be Ukrainian. My grandmother is from Ukraine and I have a necklace from her with the Tryzub and she has always told me that it means, “unity, democracy, and Christianity.” I get the sense from her that it stands for many things and is a symbol of strength for the Ukrainian people. And people can be proud of their heritage even if they can’t afford to go visit Ukraine.

Now if those who are truly Ukrainian, would NEVER EVER say or write
THE UKRAINE ! A fact known to us all and an insult when said incorrectly, example
I-raq (Iraq) , I-Talians (Italians) , Czech … Slovakia … No lobger czechoslovakia… Same thing…

well, саркастичний чоловік, considering you call it “the Ukraine” doesnt exactly go to show much for your knowledge…

“The Ukrainian Trident” by Alexander Belov and George Shapovalov, published in 2008 by the Institute of Ukrainian Archaeology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine is an academic work that relies on archaeological evidence to demonstrate that the trident is a form of ANCHOR. It was found on coins from the Kyivan Rus era and many pre-Christian anchors and images have been found carved into tiles and walls of temples throughout the Crimea and southern Ukraine. It is an excellent read and very well researched.

The last comment dated April 30, 2011 is so very pathetic. When I see those ‘bumper stickers’ I see pride and an attempt to show respect to their ancestry.
If you were born outside of the Ukraine you are apparently not worthy of that writer’s respect. If that arrogant comment is indicative of Ukrainians, then let me quickly denounce my heritage.

And now it’s a bumper sticker plastered all over the cars of douchebags who have never even been to the Ukraine and have no real patriotic feelings about their country of origin.

not “the Ukraine” it is “Ukraine”….when “the” precedes “Ukraine” it is a left over of the communist and Russian view that Ukraine was a region, an area of Russia. Ukraine has a different and separate history from Russia. The history of the Kievan Rus…. the three Viking brothers (Kyi, Shchek and Khoryv) and their sister (Lybid) belong to the history of Ukraine

Tryzub literally means three tooth or trident. Stylized gold trident on azure background is a national symbol of Ukraine. Colors and shapes all have symbolic meanings and have been added to over the ages. Gold for wheat and azure for clear blue sky, etc. It was a tool (not weapon) used by Poseidon for fishing, designed to reduce margin of error due to refractive index of light. I believe it predates the holy trinity concept.

Just putting my 2 cents in, I am 100% Ukrainian as well, and I would like to inform you that both sides of the argument are correct. Yes, it is an ancient symbol, and yes, it was altered over time to represent the letters (VOLYA). The tryzub form has been altered countless times, and does represent the trinity and the elements of life. As Volodymyr embodied this symbol to Ukraine, it has come to stand for freedom and was highly represented as such during Russian (and other) occupations.

KungFuJesus is a little confused as to what Natalia was trying to say, being that the word for FREEDOM – ВОЛЯ (trasliteration: VOLYA) – is both what the Tryzub represents and (with a great stretch of the imagination) the cyrillic letters for the word can be seen in the emblem.

I’m sorry, Natalia. Being Ukrainian doesn’t make you correct. While the historical definition is brief, the admin team ARE correct.

Bear in mind that the Tryzub is an ancient symbol, with theories as to its origins being as diverse as the representations of it that have been unearthed, so, naturally, throughout the history of Ukraine, different epochs and regions have attributed convolutions of their own to the symbol.

I, like you, am Ukrainian. The one thing about the Tryzub never contested within the large diasporic community of Ukrainians representing every region of the Ukraine I was brought up with was its meaning. While it may embrace such concepts of liberty, freedom and independence, it is understood to be the symbol of strength in unity/solidarity. Even in looking at its intricate, powerful, interwoven form, you can see that it evokes a sense of being solid and unbreakable.

As a form, it is beautiful to look at. As a symbol, it has withstood the test of time because it addresses the concept of people united as force to be reckoned with. You have, I would imagine, heard of ‘divide and conquer’?

Hey Natalia it says Tryzub up there but you said Truzyb means freedom. If you’re Ukranian you would’ve noticed that difference, right?

The letters “y” and “u” are opposite of how we pronounce/use them in English as compared to Ukrainian. The interchanging of these letters is common of native Ukrainian speakers. Don’t be rude.

I assure you (not as a Ukrainian, but as a researcher) that the meaning above is correct. The symbol is older even than the language, and the country itself. It is the nature of symbols to accumulate additional layers of meaning.

Hey, I’m sorry but that is not the meaning of truzyb. I don’t know If you are Ukrainian, I am. This is something Ukrainian people should, but don’t know. The symbol represents FREEDOM nothing else. FREEDOM. If you speak Ukrainian you should know that freedom means VOLYA and the symbol has the Ukrainian letters in it. If you look close enough you will see the word.

Nomads Edit

During the Iron Age, numerous tribes settled on the modern-day territory of Ukraine. In the first millennium BC, a tribe of people who called themselves Cimmerians made their way from Thrace and occupied the land around the Dnieper. On the Black Sea coast, the Greeks founded numerous colonies, such as Yalta. Around 700 BC, another group of people settled on the Ukrainian steppes: the Scythians, a semi-nomadic people from Persia. At the turn of the 4th century BC, a series of Nomadic tribes succeeded each other as the dominant force on the steppes, many of whom were Persian in origin. First were the Sarmatians, expert warriors and herders who were known to fight on horseback. They were succeeded by the Alans. The next barbarian migration came in the 3rd century AD that was dominated by the Goths, a Germanic people who settled between the Carpathians and Black Sea. They would eventually go on to attack the Roman Empire, expelling the legions from Dacia, the Roman province on the lower Danube. The Goths were forced from their settlements around AD 370 by the Huns, who pushed them beyond the Danube. The next two nomadic hordes to traverse Ukraine were the Bulgars, who were of Turkic origin, and the Avars living in the Carpathian Basin. The Bulgarians went on to settle north of the Byzantine Empire, in present-day Bulgaria, while the Avars would settle in present-day Hungary, along with the Huns.

Slavs Edit

Slavs are believed to have originated in the region(s) of modern-day Poland, Slovakia or western Ukraine. During the 5th and 6th centuries, the Hunnic and Gothic kingdoms had fallen, and Slavs began to migrate in all directions, settling as far south as the Balkans, the Oder River, and the Arctic. Numerous tribes settled on either side of the Dnieper, the river that has been a symbol of Ukraine. Originally, the early Slavs divided themselves by tribe – large communal families that practiced a sort of “primitive communism.” [1] The application of technological advances to agriculture “increased productivity and rendered the collective labour of large groups no longer necessary. The clans split into smaller families and, on the more fertile soil at least, it became possible for the small family to meet the needs of its members by restricting operations to a limited holding of land. Such land became in course of time private property.” [2]

Before the rise of Rus, the first East Slavic state, a Turkic people who adopted Judaism established an empire on the Caspian Sea that included the Caucuses, Azerbaijan, southern Russia, and eastern Ukraine. The Khazars provided a buffer for the developing Slavic tribes to develop themselves internally and migrate from their marsh birthplace. [3] Trade between the Khazars and Swedes increased during this time, requiring the Varangians, or as they styled themselves, Rus, to follow the River Dnieper south across Eastern Europe. This is similar to what other Scandinavians did in Western Europe, specifically Normandy and England: they conquered the people and established their dynasties, becoming culturally part of the conquered population. This is the beginning of contact between future rulers and subjects. As the Khazar Empire began to crumble, two Mongolian tribes, the Pechenegs and Polovtsi pushed the Eastern Slavic tribes from the Don and lower Dnieper. [4]

Meanwhile, the Varangians had been exploring along the many rivers of Eastern Europe, trading with the various Slavic tribes that settled there. Their tribal name was, Russ, was given to the state that Oleg of Novgorod would establish when he conquered Kiev and deposed Askold and Dir. [5] This new political entity, called Kievan Rus', was ruled by the Varangian dynasty founded by its first prince, Rurik. This dynasty would rule Kievan Rus' and its numerous principalities years after its downfall and was only replaced in Muscovy by the Romanovs in the 17th century.

The area of early Slavdom, which roughly coincides with the territory of Ukraine, was at an important crossroad, namely, barbarian migrations from the north, south, and west. Due to a lack of natural barriers and its position at an important geographic migratory route, a multitude of tribes, peoples, and cultures contributed to the development of Ukrainian identity that is unique: neither wholly Western nor Eastern, neither wholly Asian or European. [ citation needed ]

Kievan Edit

Circa AD 800, the Varangians Askold and Dir organised an army and travelled down the Dnieper to Kiev in order to save the cities inhabitants from a besieging tribe. In doing so, they paved the way for the ascension of the Rurik dynasty over not just Kiev and Novgorod, but all the tribes that make up the East Slavs. The Varangians brought these Slavic tribes political cohesion by building one of the most powerful medieval kingdoms, and undoubtedly a sense of cultural cohesion with the conversion of Rus to Christianity in AD 988.

As Rus was one of the largest medieval empires, it is only natural that it would cover a variety of geographic zones. The northern reaches of Rus covered a heavily forested area called zalizya (land behind the forest) that was sparsely settled. There was not much industry or agriculture, with trade being the main economic activity. Vladimir, a city in this region, did not significantly increase its power until well into the decline of Kievan Rus'. The south of Rus was the centre of government, culture, and trade. It was much more heavily populated and prosperous, with trade and agriculture being well established and many links to western empires, such as the Byzantine Empire.

The unity of Rus was evident in the characteristics of this Medieval Slavic state. The name Rus, which is derived from the name Varangians had for themselves, is the “common name for previously separate and individually named East Slavic tribes.” [6] The people of Rus fought common external enemies, making a distinction between “us” and “them.” There was a lack of natural internal borders that facilitated easy travel of people, goods, and communication: the Dnieper united Eastern Europe through trade. Christianity was an "ideology that helped to underpin princely authority. [6] After the adoption of Byzantine Christianity, architecture throughout Rus became more uniform, especially when it came to churches. The adoption of local saints, such as Volodymyr the Great, strengthened local unity. There was also the fact that the elites and boyars were united by common language: Church Slavonic, which is demonstrated by the lack of translators in the courts of various princes from all parts of Kievan Rus'. Books were widely distributed as well. Lastly, the introduction of a codified set of laws, the first of its kind in Eastern Europe, by Yaroslav the Wise, called the Russka Pravda. It must have been widely used because of the many copies found.

In spite of its many unifying factors, there was a divergence between the northern and southern principalities. In 1169, Prince Andrei Bogoliubskii of Vladimir sacked Kiev, which exemplifies the princely rivalry that undermined central dynastic authority. The modern Russian language also began to form in the 11th century, due to the late consolidation of the northern Slavic tribes under Rus. More so, the conquerors and local peoples mixed their languages, mixing Finno-Ugric with Old East Slavic.

While the internal linguistic divisions of Rus were geographically defined as a North-South split within the confederation of East Slavic tribes, there was a widening gulf between the Rus elites and commoners. As previously mentioned, after the death of Grand Prince Ihor, the Rus language began to develop dialectal forms, corresponding with the conquering of the northern Slavic towns such as Suzdal and Vladimir and the future nation-states of Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia. The landed elites of Rus, the boyars, spoke Church Slavonic after the conversion of the land to Christianity in AD 988 by Volodymyr the Great, negating the need for interpreters among the various princely courts of Kievan Rus'. The Rurikid dynasty was ethnically Varangian, not Slavic. Though this did not lead to drastic estrangement between the monarch and commoners, it provided friction between the boyars and the centralised authority, much like the conflicts being played out in the Kingdoms of France and England at the same time. The tension between these two classes contributed to the fall of Kievan Rus' in the face of the invasion of the Golden Horde, and eventually Rus’ western-successor, Halych-Volhynia. Thus, the cultural legacy and common identity of Rus was immortalised in the language, religion, and oral traditions of the Rus peasant.

This new state was formulated on the basis of the ancient clan constitution with a new organisation for royal power overlaid. “All the power of government rested originally in the hands of the general assembly of all freemen, whose decrees were executed by elected officials, consisting in part of the war-chieftains,” who became subservient to the princes of the Rurik dynasty. [7] There was also the boyar nobility, or all of those who owned property. They served as a foil to centralised royal power and would contribute to Kievan Rus' dissolution and fragmentation before the Mongol onslaught. The royalty of Kiev rested their power on military control and over time developed a tradition of central government: the boyars in this respect had the advantage, since their institution of “noble democracy” was well established, even during the tribal era. These limitations on monarchic power led to the ruin of Kievan Rus'. [8]

The adoption of Orthodox Christianity by Volodymyr the Great further strengthened the cultural links between the East Slavic tribes. This was needed to redefine the relations between the autocrat and the up-and-coming landowners, or boyars. By adopting a nation-wide religion, he would be able to give the nobility a license for its special behaviours and legitimize his rule and servitude of those below him. “He realised that if all the lands under his rule had a common religion, this in itself would be a powerful factor making for State consolidation and stability.” [9]

From its inception, Rus was a fragile entity as it represented a conglomeration of Slavic tribes that were united by trade, religion, rivers, and similar tongues. Yet the most divisive line in Rusyn society was that between the peasants and the Rurik dynasty. The descendants of Rurik spoke Church Slavonic, whose use was limited to this class. On the other hand, the peasants and commoners were speaking Old East Slavic. This language would begin to splinter into dialects and eventually separate languages as the kingdom of Rus fell apart.

Halych-Volhynia Edit

Halych-Volhynia (or Galicia-Volhynya) was the spiritual and cultural successor to Kievan Rus'. It was a distinctly "Ukrainian" state, in the sense that it was not a conglomerate of diverse peoples and principalities. It was situated in the westernmost part of modern Ukraine, and at its height extended to the Black Sea. It was centred in the cities of Halych and Volhynia, and exhibited European features in government and social structure specifically, feudal social order and mutual self-defence leagues with other Eastern European countries. The military alliances were formed with Poland, Hungary, and Romania, against the Mongol "Golden Horde", which had conquered the northern Rus principalities and the old centre of Rusyn culture, Kiev.

During the era of Golden Horde hegemony over parts of the Eastern Slavic tribes, a frontier that was lawless and sparsely populated formed on the edge of Kievan Rus' and Halych-Volhynia domains, to the south and west of these political entities. It was a no-man's land until the Ruthenian (not to be confused with Rusyn) peasants, merchants, and nobles began to flee there and settle it, calling the new frontier Zaporizhia, or “past the rapids.” The extent of Rus control in the south was set at the first rapids on the River Dnieper. The main reason for its colonisation was the religious persecution of Orthodox Christians under Polish rule.

For two hundred years, Halych-Volhynia forged stronger links with the West, increasing the amount of Latin influence. For example, the first King of Rus, Danylo, was given his crown by the Pope as a way to increase papal influence in Eastern Orthodox lands. The perpetual struggle between Latin and Byzantine religious influence is reflected in Ukrainian culture to the modern era, and is one of the defining characteristics of Ukraine: neither wholly European, nor wholly Asian [ citation needed ] .

After the fall of Kievan Rus', there were several independent Ukrainian states, notably the Kingdom of Halych, the Cossack Hetmanate and the Ukrainian National Republic after the First World War. Overall, though, there has been no modern Ukrainian tradition of statehood, making it even more difficult to place the Ukrainian identity firmly in the European or Asian camps. For that matter, in the 14th to 18th centuries, scholars could not agree as to whether Ruthenians (medieval Latin term for Ukrainians) should be grouped with Poland or Muscovy (proto-Russia).

Even at such an early time, the Ukrainian question mystified scholars. Ruthenians were Orthodox and spoke dialects that would evolve into middle-Ukrainian and Belarusian. During this era, Poland and Muscovy are playing a game of tug-of-war to control and influence the territory of Ukraine, which meant increased European influences during critical stages of the Reformation, Renaissance, and Enlightenment, while historically conservative forces such as Orthodoxy and mythical-lore and literature were also prominent in shaping Ukrainian identity. The links between Ukraine, its neighbours, the East and West have been anything but equidistant.

There have been periods of increased cultural influence from countries like Poland, Muscovy, and Austria. This pressure has never been geographically equal. For example, Galicia had been under Polish and Austrian rule until the end of Second World War, while Right-bank Ukraine had been under nominal Tsarist rule since the Treaty of Pereyaslav.

What can be deduced is that Ukrainian lands had ties to the West for a longer period of time and at crucial moments in the formation of the Ukrainian identity that made it distinct from Russian culture, which did not materialise until the last years of Tsarist rule. As far back as Kievan Rus', Rurikid dynasty members were married to Western and Central European royalty, such as the ruling houses of England and France. During the period of Polish dominance, many artistic and literary movements that originated in Europe made their way to Ukraine and Poland but not the Tsarist lands, as the Kingdom of Poland and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth forcefully isolated them.

During the period of increased European cultural influence, the Ruthenian identity appears among ethnic Belarusians and Ukrainians, whose lands had been transferred to the administration of Lithuania and Poland, respectively. Ruthenian and Polish nobles often spoke Polish, Latin, and Church Slavonic in court, which added to the feeling that the Ruthenian language was the lingua franca of the peasants. The defining mark of a Ruthenian under Poland was therefore religion, as Poles are traditionally Catholic. The Rus or Rusyn identity was left to Muscovy and the Tsars as the divide between Rus and Ruthenia widened in correlation to greater Polish influence.

The final straw in severing the link of association between Rusyn and Ruthenian was the Orthodox split between the Metropolitans of Moscow and Kiev. By the 17th century, Ruthenian identity and culture have grown independent of their previous associations, and is called the Ruthenian Revival. Although many aspects of modern Ukrainian society are still being formed or would be greatly influenced by the forthcoming Cossack Revolts, Ukrainian identity had distinctly defined itself a niche in the society of the day. Vernacular Ukrainian was being used in Church services and the founding of the Rezszpospolita by the Union of Lublin created a divergence in the Ruthenian identity between ethnic Belarusian and Ukrainians.

Petro Mohyla, Orthodox Metropolitan of Kiev and founder of the Kiev-Mohyla Academy started a reform movement with the goal of reviving the traditions of the local Orthodox Church for Ukrainians. This meant restored teachings of traditional Greek and Latin, which many saw as a reinforcement of the cultural continuum that links Rus to Ruthenia. In conjunction with the formation of distinct Cossack society, Ukrainian identity would forever take a path of its own choosing.

Cossacks Edit

Who and what were the Cossacks are questions of great historical significance for Ukraine. In military terms, Cossacks were fast mounted infantry. They were quick and manoeuvrable like Turkish cavalry but lacked the firepower of their European counterparts. In cultural terms, they are described as possessing a “martial spirit” and esprit du corps and known for their independent attitudes and democratic practices. Their origins lie in the establishment of small communities on the outskirts of Polish and Tsarist control, to the south and west of traditional centres of Ukrainian power and culture. They banded together for self-defence against raiders from all nations and took in people from all walks of life.

Initially, Cossack bands acted much like pirates, raiding rich and lucrative cities all over the Black Sea and the Hellespont. The name Cossack is derived from the Turkish word meaning “free man”, and this is exactly how Cossacks viewed themselves: free and independent from outside influence. Ruthenian nobles, merchants, and serfs made up the majority of their ranks, but there were many Turks, Poles, and Russians as well. Thus, the “Cossack nation” did not correspond geographically, socially, or ethnically to Ruthenia, but they were intrinsically linked by language, religion, and cultural legacy. Over time, Cossacks took up the mantle of defenders of the Ukrainian Orthodox faith, which legitimised their rule.

As previously mentioned, the initial motivation for forming Cossack troops was defence from raids and the lawlessness of the frontier. Over time, Cossacks began to hire themselves out as mercenaries to various armies and kingdoms. In Poland, for example, there existed a registry of Cossacks who mobilised and fought for the Polish crown. Many different types of Cossack communities formed over time, including the Don, Zaporizhia, Terek, and Ural hosts. They were immune from imperial authority because of their remoteness, which gave these free communities time to grow and organise their military potential.

During the Cossack Period of Ukrainian history, there is a great national “awakening.” Previously, Ukrainian’s had been united by language, custom, and religion: now those distinctions were not so fine. Muscovy had a similar religion and claimed Ukrainian was a mere dialect, an offshoot of its own language. What clearly defines the boundaries of being Ukrainian is class identity: this leads all the way up to the Bolshevik Revolution. Ukrainian’s were by far peasants, except for the few nobles who were and assimilated by the Poles and Russians. Therefore, as more and more people fled the advance of the Huns, the repressions of Poland, the “borderland” that would become the Ukrainian heartland, between Turkey, Poland, and Muscovy, became settled by Ukrainian serfs fleeing serfdom under Poland of Russia, or “true” slavery under the Turks. As these peasants fled, they came together and established Cossack brigades with attached territorial divisions for safekeeping against raids. These Cossacks, who stood up to Polish, Turkish, and Russian imperial authority, were the true national heroes of Ukraine during this time, and defined what it was to be Ukrainian for generations to come. The subsequent revival of Ukrainian culture and nationalism during the 19th century in Kharkiv was hugely influenced by Cossack exploits in state-building and keeping the rival imperial powers at bay. They did so by “tak[ing] upon themselves the task of being the main support of both the Orthodox Church and Ukrainian nationality.” [10] With the Cossacks by their side, the Orthodox clergy realised that they could safely practice in Kiev, and once more, the centre of Ukrainian culture and religion moved to Kiev. The Kievan brotherhood is founded, which eventually becomes a university and, finally, an academy: it would become the Kievska-Mohylanska Akademia. Hetman Sahaidachny and all the Brotherhood of the Zaporijian Cossacks joined the brotherhood. Thus, Cossackhood is intrinsically tied with Ukrainian religion and culture. At the same time, Ukrainian nobles were conscious of the historical legacy that they were continuing, which extends all the way back to Kievan Rus'. [11] “[Sahaidachny] returned to the Ukrainian population the use of their traditional electoral principle in ecclesiastical as well as in secular affairs, a principle very deeply embodied in the instincts of Ukrainians…in doing so, Sahaidachny provided Ukrainians with a method and with strength for their future struggles for national existence.” [12] This Cossack liberalism can be seen in the democratic nature of the Zaporizhian Sich, the nucleus of the proto-Cossack state (the Hetmanate), and is regarded by contemporary Ukrainians as unique foil to the authoritarian and expansionist character of “imperial” Russia.

Zaporiz'ka Sich Edit

Zaporiz'ka Sich, or “Fortress beyond the rapids” was the centre of the Ukrainian Cossacks. From there, they organised raids and developed unique institutions of government and culture. There was immense diversity among the regiments, which led to the tradition of equality among all Cossacks. What made the Ukrainian Cossacks unique from the other Hosts was the democratic nature of their government: each district was garrisoned by a regiment, which in turn elected a leader, called an ataman the starshyna, high-ranking Cossack officers, would elect a leader to oversee all the districts and regiments, called a hetman.

From 1600 to 1648, Cossack raids became a thorn in the side of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth as they took up the defence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Petro Mohyla cemented this relationship in the wake of Orthodox Church reforms.

Khmelnytsky Uprising Edit

In 1648, the Zaporizhia Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky began a campaign against the Rzeczpospolita. Contrary to the label most historians assign this uprising, it was not “a war of national liberation.” In the course of the struggle, the Cossacks liberated the palatinates of Kiev, Chernihiv, and Bratslav, which would form the territorial basis for the Cossack state, the Hetmanate. Red Ruthenia, or Galicia, remained a part of Poland until the Partitions of Poland, at which point it was transferred to the Habsburg Empire. This signified a fundamental shift in the goal and tactics of the Cossacks: rather than being a band of mercenaries and outlaws, they were now the protectors of the Ukrainian state, culture, and faith. After 1648, three territorial entities constituted the new Cossack state: Slobidska Ukraine, the Hetmanate, and Zaporizhia Sich.

Mythology Edit

Some writers have speculated that the Cossacks were related to the Roxolonian Sarmatians, Iron Age inhabitants of the Ukrainian steppes. This is very similar to the justification for power used by the Polish szlachta, and gave the Cossacks a geographic and historical element to their identity, in addition to the honour of defending “Slavia Orthodoxa.”

Hetmanate Edit

The first Hetman of the legitimate political entity called the Hetmanate was Bohdan Khmelnytsky, the leader of the Cossack Uprising. This state existed from 1649 until 1775, the year in which Zaporizhia Sich was destroyed. During this period, the state was weakened by bickering and internal division, allowing both Poland and Muscovy to expand their influence over Cossack affairs. Russia particularly wished to tighten its hold over Ukraine because of the belief that they were the spiritual successors to the legacies of Rus and Rome, an idea which gained credibility as they were the only state descended from Rus to not be dominated by a foreign power.

The Treaty of Pereyaslav of 1654 between the Hetmanate and Muscovy guaranteed Cossack protection by the Tsar. Furthermore, it established the Cossack Hetmanate in Left-bank Ukraine, which was possible due to the declining fortunes of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Cossacks also felt more affiliation with Muscovy because it was an Orthodox state, and religion was more important than language at this time.

Cossack autonomy came to an end with the rule of the last Hetman, Ivan Mazepa. Hetman Mazepa initiated an uprising in 1709, which was the last gasp of Cossack separatism. The Tsar considered this to be treason, claiming it violated the terms of the Treaty of Pereyaslav, and brutally crushed this uprising. This paved the way for Russian imperialism over Eastern Europe and its prominent position in Ukrainian history until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The new Cossack state was engaged in a three-way diplomatic and military conflict with the Ottoman Empire, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and the Russian Empire. The Khmelnytsky Uprising shook the Commonwealth to its foundation, leading to the division of Poland and Lithuania. After the uprising and the bitter military clashes that followed, Poland was estranged from the Ukrainian-Cossack state and more concerned with keeping the crumbling Commonwealth together. In order to consolidate the gains made during the rebellion, Khmelnytsky signed the Treaty of Pereyaslav with Russia that ensured the protection of the Cossack state by the armies of the Tsar. This decision would have lasting repercussions for the next two centuries of Ukrainian history.

Ivan Mazepa’s rebellion resulted in tragedy for the Ukrainian people. With his failed attempt at ensuring Ukrainian autonomy, Mazepa only succeeded in creating lasting mistrust amongst the Cossacks. This led to the absorption of Slobiska Ukraine (1772), Zaporizhian Sich (1775), and the Hetmanate (1785) into Tsarist Russia. In addition, the Partitions of Poland (1772, 1793, and 1795) handed Russia central Ukraine and Volhynia, while Galicia and Bukovyna fell to the Habsburg Empire.

Despite these setbacks to Ukrainian statehood, the 17th century propelled the formation of a distinct and modern Ukrainian identity. Whereas beforehand Ruthenians were nothing more than southern Rusyn, sharing common association with Belarusians, this relationship was irreversibly changed by the creation of the a Cossack state and the internal fusion of the Mohyla’s reformed Orthodoxy with the ideals of Cossack society. With the mix of academic church culture and Cossack liberty stood in contrast to the authoritarian and traditionalist nature of Russian Tsardom. To add to the growing divide between these neighbouring people, Ruthenia was politically and geographically closer to the European centre than Muscovy, which was culturally “backards” and had been previously isolated by Poland. [13] Galicia historically would serve as the centre of diffusion for Western and Renaissance European influences throughout “Ukrainian” territory, having considerable impact. Such cultural influence was obvious by the time Mazepa was elected Hetman because the number of churches that had or were being built was very high.

In essence, the Cossack period of Ukrainian national history was when a unique local culture appeared that would be looked back upon by modern Ukrainians as another chapter in tale of the evolution of national identity.

Russia Edit

With the liquidation of the Cossack state, Ukrainians became another ethnic group within the Russian Empire. Though the Treaty of Pereyaslav supposedly guaranteed the autonomy and sovereignty of the Hetmanate, the Tsar and his successors ignored this stipulation. At the same time, the Romanov dynasty pushed ahead with the construction of a distinct national identity for Russians, or an "imagined community". During this period, Ukrainian and Russian culture were similar, and it would have seemed much easier to integrate and assimilate Ukrainians into the emerging Russian consciousness. [14]

To that effect, the Tsarist government adopted the policy of Russification, which would continue to play a major role in domestic politics within the Russian Empire and Soviet Union until the independence of Eastern European nations behind the Iron Curtain. At the start of the 18th century, Russian national identity was in its infancy and not distinct from the state. [15] After 1785 the Romanov dynasty made a conscious effort to assimilate the Ruthenian and Cossack elites by granting them noble status within the Russian Empire. Having become part of the nobility, Ukrainians could now rise to the highest ranks of the service bureaucracy. This was only possible by being politically loyal to the Tsar and to the Romanov dynasty and by not emphasizing ethnic differences. The only bastion of Ukrainian identity lay with the peasants in the countryside, who passed on this unique identity through folk traditions, such as oral stories. [16] This precarious hold on the past could have been eliminated had there been universal primary education including Russian language courses and history lessons that legitimised the rule of the Romanovs. [17]

Simultaneously, the colonisation of Nova Rossiya (New Russia), or the southern and western peripheries of Ukraine, attracted a wide array of people from all over the Russian empire. This new urban and industrial area became culturally Russian. The most serious attempt to Russify the subjects of the Romanovs occurred in the reigns of the last two Tsars, Alexander III (1881-1894) and Nicholas II (1894-1917), during the last forty years of their dynasty's rule. Because serious application of the policy of Russification did not take place until so late in the attempt to create a Russian national identity, fully formed nationalities, such as the Poles, were already part of the Russian Empire. At every turn, Polish nationalism fuelled the fires of rebelliousness, which helped ignite the nationalism of other people – Lithuanians, Ukrainians, and Jews. [16] The options of Ukrainian-Russian synthesis were drifting towards the extremes: either assimilation or resistance. [18]

Several other reasons account for why Russification never completely eliminated Ukrainian identity:

  • Russians and Ukrainians were developing in separate directions, [citation needed] forming the proto-national identities that would develop into modern nation-states
  • Romanov Tsars attempted to create an artificial identity that traced its roots all the way back to Rus' while the Russian and Ukrainian commoners were becoming more culturally and linguistically divergent
  • Imperial Russia did not have the "repressive capacity", in terms of resources, infrastructure, or government organisation, that future leaders like Lenin and Stalin had at their disposal
  • the implementation of repressive policies chronologically coincided with the growing momentum of the Ukrainian movement in Galicia, under the Habsburg Empire, which helped inspire and introduce ideas that would keep Ukrainian nationalism under the Romanovs alive

Due to the critical link between Russian-occupied Ukraine and the rest of Europe that Galicia provided, and because of the banning of overtly political expressions of ethnic identity, the Ukrainian national movement transformed itself into an artistic and literary movement. During the late 18th century, many nationalities within the large empires of Europe experienced “national awakenings”, which inevitably contributed to the increasing momentum that Ukrainian nationalism gained in Galicia and in the Bukovyna, which was part of the Austrian Empire, making the dissemination of nationalistic ideas much easier. [19] The legacy of Ukrainian literature goes back a millennium, which correlates to the establishment of Kievan Rus'. Examples of early Ukrainian literature are the Primary Chronicle and the Halychuna-Volhynian Chronicle. Though both of these works were written in Church Slavonic dialect, they nonetheless show a departure from Russian and Polish works of the same era (circa 11th century AD). The influence of Ukraine's literature is so powerful that, in the 18th century, "when the end of the Ukrainian nation seemed inevitable, literature had reached such a high state of development that it awoke the educated classes of the nation". [20] Kotlarevsky (1769-1838) introduced pure vernacular literature at the turn of the 18th century. The most well-known Ukrainian artist and national hero, Taras Shevchenko (1814-1861), has a reputation as the author of poetry such as Haidamaky (1841) and Kobzar (1840). The rise of common language to such heights in literature is further proof of the distinction between Ukrainians and their neighbours. [ citation needed ] Notable bards, such as the national heroes Ivan Franko (1856-1916) and Taras Shevchenko, constructed the modern Ukrainian language while they linked the glory of Cossackdom to the cultural continuum of Ukrainian identity. Whereas previous poets and writers had viewed Polish and Russian identities as similar, or at least related, the poet Taras Shevchenko viewed “Ukrainian, Russian, and Polish identities as mutually exclusive and fundamentally hostile”. [21] Basically, Shevchenko deconstructed the idea of Ukrainian-Russian empire in the minds of the Ukrainian people.

Austria Edit

In 1772, after the three partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the regions of Galicia (Haluchuna) and Bukovyna became part of the Habsburg Empire. Unlike their brethren under the domination of the Romanov Tsars, Ukrainians living within the Austrian state were not culturally repressed. In fact, The Austrian government took steps to improve the educational level of the general population and the material conditions of the Ukrainian clergy. Polish, German, and Ukrainian were taught concurrently in schools. With the ascension of Joseph II, the enlightened despot, the Austrian monarch “was inspired by an enthusiastic wish to do his best for his subjects” (Doroshenkok 571). During his reign and that of his successors, the Ukrainian-speaking clergy were able to study and worship in their own tongue. As most elites throughout Ukrainian history had either been assimilated or liquidated, the emergence of an educated and nationalistic clergy that stood up for the rights of the Ukrainian people signalled the emergence of a “national renaissance.” Following the rule of Joseph II until the Revolutions of 1848, the Ukrainian clergy was enthusiastic about the ideas of a Ukrainian nation and developed it even further (Doroshenko 574).

After the turbulent revolutions of 1848 that shook the empires of Europe to their core, concessions were made to Ukrainians in Galicia. In the same year, serfdom was abolished. By 1849, the General Ruthenian Council had laid out a programme of Ukrainian aspirations which included the codification of uniform Ukrainian spelling and the division of East Slavic linguistic group into three branches: Ukrainian, Belarusian and Russian (Doroshenko 578). During the course of these events, the Ruthenian Council made a historic declaration: “[we] are part of a great Ruthenian people that speaks the same language and numbers 15 millions, of whom two and half million live in Galicia” (Wilson 106). This represents the beginning of the acceptance that the Ruthenians who live in both Russia and Austria share the same culture and identity. Unlike Russia, Austria never attempted to create a conglomerate identity or nationalism for its state. Similarly, Ukrainians in Galicia established a distinct identity for themselves that “Ruthenians” on both sides of the political boundary separating them could claim as their own, while in Russia, Ukrainian nationalists concentrated their energy on destroying the idea of a common “Ruski” identity for Greater and Little Russia (Wilson 109). In this sense, Galicia has many parallels with Piedmont, an Italian territory that was the base for national unification.

As previously mentioned, Ukrainians were politically divided between the Austrian-Hungarian Empire and the Russian Empire. When war broke out, Ukrainians were conscripted into the armies of both nations: 3.5 million fought as part of the Russian army, while a quarter-million took up arms for the Austrian throne [22] Areas of Galicia were occupied by the Russian army and many civilians were executed for supposedly “collaborating with the enemy.” One and a half million people lost their lives during the Great War [23]

Revolutions of 1917 Edit

The First World War (1914–1918) reshaped the political divisions of Europe fundamentally. Out of the four major land Empires (Austria-Hungary, Germany, Ottoman, and Russia), only one remained imperialistically intact: Russia. In the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, Russia transformed from a dynastic entity into a socialist state. The multitude of ethnicities that were part of Russia began to demand sovereignty as early as the February Revolution, which deposed the Tsar. In March 1917, the Ukrainian People's Republic was declared. This was an extremely complicated conflict because it included a multi-sided conflict with nationalistic and ideological aspirations clashing, and served as a catalyst to the disintegration of the Russian and Austrian empires.

Ukrainian People's Republic Edit

The Tsentralna Rada, or the Central Council initially governed the newly independent Ukrainian state, elected nationalist historian Mykhailo Hrushevsky as its President. At this point, the Russian provisional Government and the Bolsheviks were clamouring for control of Ukraine the UPR threw its support behind the communists. The provisional government was defeated, and a Soviet Ukrainian Republic was declared in Kharkiv, a city on the right-bank of the Dnieper. To support the new communist government, the Bolsheviks sent in the Red Army. Since it lacked a sufficient armed and organised military, the Tsentralna Rada was forced to sign the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in order to receive military aid and intervention from the German government. This was too little, too late: the Tsentralna Rada was overthrown in a coup that brought “Hetman” Pavlo Skoropadky to power.

Ukrainian State Edit

With the Hetman coup, the name of the government changed to the Ukrainian State. Skoropadky’s conservative German-backed administration, called the Hetmanate, made major strides and inroads where the Tsentralna Rada had failed. It established a competent bureaucracy and established diplomatic ties with neighbouring countries. When the Central Powers (Germany, Austria, Ottoman, and Bulgaria) lost the war and agreed to an armistice in November 1918, all German armies within Ukraine were recalled and another socialist government, the Directorate, overthrew the conservative monarchy of Skoropadsky.

Directorate Edit

By the end of 1918, the situation for the Ukrainian National Republic was dire. As soon as the Central Powers capitulated, Lenin annulled the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and commenced an invasion of Eastern and Central Europe. The Directorate overthrew the Hetmanate by force through the cooperation of the Sich Rifles, who had been established with the purpose of providing the Ukrainian National Republic a military defence in the volatile climate of Eastern Europe. In January 1919, the Ukrainian National Republic and the Western Ukrainian National Republic joined forces to fight the White Army, the Red Army, Polish and Romanian forces. By the time the Paris Peace Conference had finished, Galicia was once again a part of Poland and would remain so until the start of World War 2. The Directorate signed peace treaties with Poland and Romania, allowing it to focus its efforts on defeating the anti-Bolshevik and Bolshevik forces that threatened Ukraine’s newfound autonomy. In 1920, the Bolsheviks launched an offensive against Poland with the intention of spreading the socialist revolution to the heartland of Europe. The Red Army was defeated bear Warsaw, forcing Lenin to sign a peace treaty with Poland.

Partition Edit

Meanwhile, the Red Army conquered most of the Ukrainian National Republic by the end of 1920. With the signing of the Treaty of Riga, the Bolsheviks recognised the Polish claim to Galicia and other parts of western Ukraine, while the Poles recognised Soviet claims to the rest of Ukraine. Until the Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939, Ukraine would remain divided between Poland the newly formed Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Though the Soviet Union was made up of a plethora of ethnicities, there was only one type of citizenship. Though passports and other official documents of identification would have the “nationality” of an individual stated, it made little to no difference. Most schooling in the USSR was done in Russian and nationalistic aspirations were rejected and crushed brutally.

Ukrainization Edit

Initially, there was a relaxation of the “one nation, one identity” policy that had been the standard after the 18th century in Russia. With the conclusion of hostilities in Eastern Europe, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic was incorporated into the larger communist federal entity, the USSR. With the utter devastation that Eastern Europe had suffered as a result of the Russian Civil War, the Soviet government encouraged the renewal of Ukrainian culture and language as a means of bringing back Ukrainian nationals and intelligentsia to help rebuild the country economically and culturally (Doroshenko 647). Ukrainian language was used in publications, schooling, and many ethnic Ukrainians were made literate. Many ethnic Ukrainians also moved to the cities, which, in the south and west, had previously been Russian in culture. This led to a renewal of the Ukrainian national identity that expanded to most of Soviet Ukraine. With the ascension of Stalin as Secretary General of the Soviet Union, Soviet policies of multi-culturalism were abandoned, religious institutions and churches were systematically destroyed, and bourgeois nationalism was repressed with special brutality and horror.

Great Famine Edit

The Holodomor of 1932-33 (Holod = “hunger”, mor = “death”) was an artificial and organised famine that resulted in dramatic changes to the way of life and economic activity. Among them were:

  • Exportation of grain to Western markets in order to provide money for industrialisation policies under the Five-Year Plans
  • Subdue Ukrainian nationalism by initially targeting the intelligentsia, the leaders of the nationalist movement, and then the peasants, the base of support for Ukrainian nationalism
  • Ensure the implementation of collectivised farming (unlike their Russian counterparts, Ukrainian peasants had no experience with this method of farming)

To exacerbate the situation, there was little modern farming equipment available and the steppes were experiencing a drought. Due to insufficient statistical records, estimates for the loss of life range from the low millions to as high as 10 million. With the intelligentsia liquidated prior to the famine, there was no direction for the further development of Ukrainian “high culture” and the starvation of the peasantry meant that Ukrainian nationalism would mostly stay alive in the minds of the rural peasants and the Ukrainian Diaspora community until the Khrushchev thaw and Gorbachev’s policies of perestroika and glasnost.

World War II Edit

With the disintegration of the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact, Eastern Europe was once again fully embroiled in war. During the German occupation of Ukraine, many nationalists became disillusioned with the Nazis and Soviets because of the retention of collectivised agricultural policies and deportation of Ukrainians to forced-labour in Germany. This led to the establishment of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, a centralised partisan movement intent upon carving out a Ukrainian state between the Axis and Soviet armies. Although it ultimately failed, it showed that the idea of an independent Ukrainian state had still not perished. In fact, most of the Ukrainians who fled to the West during and after the war kept the idea of culturally and politically united Ukraine alive.

Post-War/pre-independence Ukrainian SSR Edit

After the end of World War II, Ukraine became a prosperous Soviet republic, with high-tech industries and an educated class of elites. However, since Ukraine sported many crucial economic sectors, such as agriculture, weapons and rocket manufacturing, it was heavily garrisoned by the Soviet armed forces and attempts were made to “Russify” the population. These policies had an enormous impact on Ukrainian elites, many of whom became high-ranking members of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, such as Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev. Religion was still persecuted, with many churches being destroyed or converted into anti-religion museums, though the Uniate church survived in Western Ukraine by going underground.

In 1988, Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev began to implement his policy of glasnost, or “openness”. It gave Soviet citizens the freedom of speech with the specific intent of criticising corrupt Soviet officials. Political prisoners and dissidents were released while the media became less censored and controlled. Taking the cue from the Baltic nations, many other national groups within the USSR, including Ukrainians, began to demand independence from Moscow. The Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident in northern Ukraine spurred the creation of nationalist and pro-democracy groups, notably among them Rukh, or the People’s Movement of Ukraine. These groups formed the core of resurgent Ukrainian nationalism during the dying days of the Soviet Union. Though it is unknown how large of an impact these groups had in relation to the dissolution of the USSR, such nationalist groups helped shape the modern Ukrainian identity, emphasizing links to the Cossack heritage of democracy, liberalism, and religion.

Independence Edit

The first cracks in the Soviet system began with the declaration of independence of the Baltic republics: Lithuanian, Estonia, and Latvia. On August 24, 1991, the Ukrainian SSR declared independence from the USSR and renamed itself "Ukraine". On Christmas Eve, 1991, the Soviet Union formally ceased to exist.

Ukrainians domestic and abroad now found themselves in a period of flux. Under the Soviets, ethnic Russians had been sent to the national republics of the USSR: for example, in Ukraine they made up over a fifth of the population at the end of the Soviet era (ethnic Russians likely now make up less than one in six). This has made the creation of a modern Ukrainian identity difficult because of the lasting imprints of Russian occupation in language, government, and values. Though a universal Ukrainian identity that includes the large Russian minority is still developing, many young adults now consciously identify themselves as Ukrainian.

Citizenship laws Edit

Besides various special status’ given by successive occupying powers, Ukrainians have never had their own citizenship. Though they were recognised as a distinct ethnic and national group within the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, this served no practical purpose. With independence, Ukrainian citizenship was given out on a territorial basis, rather than on ethnicity. This civic citizenship policy was a result of conflicting ideas over Ukrainian identity advocated by the Soviet elites, the political left and right.

Many left-wing parties advocated an identity that would bind all Eastern Slavs to a common political destiny, citing similar language and religion and common descent from Rus. On the political right, many saw Ukraine as possessing an “ethnic core” with which to constitute future expansion of citizenship. These ideas came together, and a legal definition of the nation was created through citizenship laws in 1991, 1997, and most recently in 2001.

  • 1991 Citizenship Law: Those who were born on the territory of Ukraine, or at least one of whose parents or grandparents was born in Ukraine
  • 1997 Amendment: Those who were born on or permanently resided on the territory of Ukraine, and their descendants (children, grandchildren)
  • 2001 Citizenship Law: Those who were born or permanently resided on the territory of Ukraine, or at least one of whose parents, grandparents, a full-blood brother or sister, was born or permanently resided on the territory of Ukraine

Bruaker’s theory of nationalism, which argues that every modern nation has one historically defined identity, is incompatible with the Ukrainian example. Due to the presence of a large non-Ukrainian ethnic community, a more encompassing and possibly dual definition of national identity is required.

Looking Through The Lens

For this years Thanksgiving post I put up a symbol of my nationality. The tryzub is a deviation of the trident and is widely regarded as the symbol of Ukraine. It is a strong and bold symbol of nationalism for a people long suppresed of by the weight of a communist dictatorship.An accurate historical description follows thanks to House Of Ukraine in California….

The national symbol and official coat of arms of Ukraine is a gold trident on an azure background (pictured above), the tryzub. As a state emblem, the trident dates back to Kievan Rus’, when it was the coat of arms of the Riuryk dynasty.

There are various theories about the trident’s origins and meaning. A trident was the symbol of Poseidon, the sea god of Greek mythology. It has been found in different societies, such as the Greek colonies on the Black Sea, Byzantium, Scandinavia and Sarmatia, and has been used in various ways as a religious and military emblem, a heraldic symbol, a state emblem, a monogram, and simply a decorative sign.

The oldest example of the trient discovered by archeologists on Ukrainian territory dates back to the 1st century A.D. At that time, the trident probably served as a symbol of power in one of the tribes that later became part of the Ukrainian people.

The trident was stamped on the gold and silver coins isssued by Prince Volodymyr the Great (980-1015), who perhaps inherited the symbol from his ancestors as a dynastic coat of arms and passed it on to his sons, Sviatopolk I (1015-1019) and Yaroslav the Wise (1019-1054).

Other rulers such as Iziaslav Yaroslavych (1054-1078), Sviatopolk II Iziaslavych (1093-1113), and Lev Danylovych (1264-1301) used the bident as their coat of arms. Although the trident continued to be used by some ruling families as a dynastic coat of arms until the 15th century, it was replaced as a state symbol in the 12th century with the Archangel Michael.

The trident appears not only on coins, but also on bricks of the Church of the Tithes in Kyiv (986-996), the tiles of the Dormition Cathedral in Volodymyr-Volynskyi (1160), and the stones of other churches, castles and palaces. It was also used as a decorative element on ceramics, weapons, rings, medallions, seals and manuscripts. Because of its wide use in Rus’, the trident evolved in many directions without losing its basic structure. Almost 200 medival variations on the trident have been discovered.

Various versions of the trident are used by Ukrainian organizations: supporters of the Hetman regime and certain affiliates of the Ukrainian Catholic Church use a trident with a cross, nationalist organizations use a trident with a sword in its center (designed by R. Lisovsky), and the Ukrainian Native Faith Church has incorporated the trident into its blazing sun emblem.

Great fact finding Lidiia! Happy to know this proud association of yours with Canada

It was such an opening for me too =)

you did mention hockey..haha…there are many other players of Ukrainain descent..Also to come to the western provinces you will find many more reminders, like a ukrainian village outside of Edmonton Alberta that every year has a day to eat and enjoy the culture..Manitoba has a few also..In the north you can find a few towns with names that go back to Ukraine..Like Tzar Sask..There is even a tiny village that used to be called KYiv.Many of the historical names are crossed with russians because it was a part of the soviet union when the ukrainains arrived but make no mistake , they are ukrainian..Great little story here

A lovely comparison! Indeed, so much in common!

Thank you, Ann ❤ I knew about our diaspora before, but I didn't know that Ukrainian Canadians brought so much of that country!


Holidays and celebrations Edit

Social gatherings like Vechornytsi have a long history in Ukrainian culture, and so do traditional holidays like Ivan Kupala Day, Maslenitsa, Koledovanie, and Malanka, where people gather in large groups. "Razom nas bahato, nas ne podolaty" is a popular cultural and political statement of both traditional and modern Ukrainians. It translates as "Together we are many! We cannot be defeated!"

Weddings Edit

Traditional Ukrainian wedding celebrations have many rituals that involve music and dancing, drinking and eating, and crowds of people. The wedding consists of three separate parts that can last for days or even weeks. First there's a betrothal, then a ceremony, followed by a big celebration. The betrothal involves the groom going to the bride's parents to bargain for ransom he will pay for the bride and to seek the blessing of her parents. There are many stories in Ukrainian folklore of a bride being stolen without the groom paying ransom. Often, the stolen bride is a willing participant and the couple elopes without her parents permission. Alternatively, the bride can refuse an offer of marriage, in which case, it is customary for the parents to meet the groom at the door with a pumpkin to convey the message. After they reach an agreement, the official wedding takes place in a church, often in a group ceremony with other couples. A celebration follows at home with the entire community participating.

Education Edit

Language Edit

The main languages are Ukrainian and Russian.

Respect for authority Edit

There is also a popular saying amongst population “The severity of traffic rules in our country is compensated by the unnecessity of following them”. This relative lack of respect is mainly caused by huge distrust for any kind of state governance and its related departments. The latest social research [2] shows that only 12% of the population believes that their leaders and public servants make a good job of managing the county’s internal and external policies. Moreover, corruption in Ukraine thrives, especially in the sphere of governance of any kind, so it also facilitates deeper disrespect for authority.

Religion Edit

Religion is practiced throughout the country. Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Eastern Catholicism and Roman Catholicism are the three most widely practiced religions. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church [3] is the largest in the country. [4] Faithful of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, the second largest, practice Byzantine rites, but are united with the Roman Catholic Church.

Food is an important part to the Ukrainian culture. Special foods are used at Easter, as well as Christmas. During Christmas, for example, people prepare kutia, which is a mixture of cooked wheat groats, poppy seeds, honey, and special sweet breads.

An average Ukrainian diet consists of fish, cheese, and a variety of sausages. Head cheese is also quite popular in Ukraine, as well as Kolbasa (Ukrainian: Ковбаса́ , Kovbasa), a type of sausage. Typically bread is a core part of every meal, and must be included for the meal to be "complete." During Christmas, for example, it is the tradition to have a twelve-course meal. Included at Easter are the famous pysanky, which are colored and patterned eggs. Making these eggs is a long process, and they are used for display at the center of the table rather than consumed.

Ukrainians often toast to good health, linger over their meal, and engage in lively conversation with family and friends. Often they will drink tea (chai), wine, or coffee afterwards with a simple dessert, such as a fruit pastry. Popular foods include salo, borscht, [4] chicken Kiev, [4] pierogi,and pilaf.

Architecture Edit

Ukrainian architecture reflects distinct features of that particular location and time period. Design and architecture are influenced by the existing political and economic climate.

Vernacular architecture Edit

Different regions in Ukraine have their own distinctive style of vernacular architecture, based on local traditions and the knowledge handed down through generations. The Museum of Folk Architecture and Way of Life of Central Naddnipryanshchyna is located in Pereiaslav. The open-air museum contains 13 theme museums, 122 examples of national architecture, and over 30,000 historical cultural objects. The Museum of Decorative Finishes is one of the featured museums that preserves the handiwork of decorative architectural applications in Ukrainian architecture. Decorative finishes use ancient traditional design patterns.

Ornamental and visual art Edit

On special occasions, every aspect of ordinary life is transformed into ornamental art form of artistic expression. Ornamentation and design motifs are steeped in symbolism, religious ritual and meaning. From the illuminated manuscripts of the Peresopnytsia Gospel to the famous pysanky and vytynanky, intricate details have ancient meaning. Much of the oral history was lost during the past 300 years of Russification of Ukraine when Ukrainian culture and language were forbidden. Organizations like the Ivan Honchar Museum, Pysanka Museum and the Ukrainian Museum are dedicated to historic preservation. Different regions of Ukraine have their own traditional ornamentation with their own variation of style and meaning. Examples can be seen in Petrykivsky Painting, ornamental architecture, Ukrainian embroidery, and textile motifs from various Ukrainian historical regions.

The Sacralization of the Holodomor: The Role of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA and the Memorial Church in Bound Brook

Please join the Ukrainian Studies Program at the Harriman Institute for a presentation by Professor Frank E. Sysyn, University of Alberta, CIUS.

Most discussions on the study and memory of the Holodomor stress the role of the Ukrainian diaspora. Yet despite the assumptions of the significance of the Ukrainian diaspora, relatively little research has addressed the memory of the Great Famine (as the Holodomor was known for most of the period from the 1930s to the 1980s) in the diaspora. We lack studies of the institutions and events through which memory was cultivated and inculcated and memorialization was conducted. Certainly one of the most significant institutions to be examined is the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. This paper concentrates on the role of sacralizing the Holodomor and the representation of those who died as Martyrs, with special reference to the erection of the Memorial Church. It also addresses questions of when the interpretation of the Great Famine as a Ukrainian national tragedy arose and how many victims were estimated to have died. The paper places the memorialization of the Holodomor in the context of the evolution of the Ukrainian diaspora community and its political activities as anti-Soviet emigres and members of the Captive Nations lobby. The crucial roles of Metropolitan Ioan Teodorovych and Archbishop (later Patriarch) Mstyslav Skrypnyk will be examined.

Frank E. Sysyn is director of the Peter Jacyk Centre for Ukrainian Historical Research at the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, professor in the Department of History and Classics at the University of Alberta, and editor in chief of the Hrushevsky Translation Project. A specialist in Ukrainian and Polish history, he is the author of Between Poland and the Ukraine: The Dilemma of Adam Kysil, 1600–1653 (1985), Mykhailo Hrushevsky: Historian and National Awakener (2001), and studies on the Khmelnytsky Uprising, Ukrainian historiography, and early modern Ukrainian political culture. He is also coauthor, with Serhii Plokhy, of Religion and Nation in Modern Ukraine (2003) and coeditor, with Martin Schulze Wessel, of Religion, Nation, and Secularization in Ukraine (2015). He is a member of the executive committee of the Holodomor Research and Education Consortium and coeditor, with Andrij Makuch, of Contextualizing the Holodomor: The Impact of Thirty Years of Ukrainian Famine Studies (2015). Professor Sysyn, who has taught frequently at Columbia University, heads the Advisory Committee of the Ukrainian Studies Program at the Harriman Institute.

This ev ent is free and open to the public.

For more information please contact Dr. Mark Andryczyk at 212-854-4697 or at [email protected]


"This volume, with its meticulous attention to detail and comprehensive coverage of a significant aspect of Ukrainian history is the product of Kononenko’s many years of dedicated research on folklore and the folk epic, and their part in shaping the Ukrainian consciousness."

Marian J. Rubchak, Valparaiso University
Slavic Review

"Natalie Kononenko is the most qualified scholar I know to write a book on Ukrainian epic poetry. In Ukrainian Epic and Historical Song , Kononenko seeks to reach a generation of young Ukrainians unfamiliar with the historical context and meaning of dumy as well as a broader audience of folklorists and general readers interested in folk poetry. Her work thus treads the delicate boundary between a serious scholarly study and quasi‐popular book."

Linda Ivanits, professor emerita of Russian and Comparative Literature, Penn State

" Ukrainian Epic and Historical Song is extremely important and timely in a world gripped by religious and nationalist conflict where people are displaced and forced to renegotiate their national, ethnic, and religious identities. These epics were not written by a nationalist, but by a person who hates war. The genre, dumy, which is usually used for nationalistic purposes, is discussed in Ukrainian Epic and Historical Song from an anti‐war point of view."

Larisa Fialkova, professor, Department of Hebrew and Comparative Literature, University of Haifa

Looking Through The Lens

For this years Thanksgiving post I put up a symbol of my nationality. The tryzub is a deviation of the trident and is widely regarded as the symbol of Ukraine. It is a strong and bold symbol of nationalism for a people long suppresed of by the weight of a communist dictatorship.An accurate historical description follows thanks to House Of Ukraine in California….

The national symbol and official coat of arms of Ukraine is a gold trident on an azure background (pictured above), the tryzub. As a state emblem, the trident dates back to Kievan Rus’, when it was the coat of arms of the Riuryk dynasty.

There are various theories about the trident’s origins and meaning. A trident was the symbol of Poseidon, the sea god of Greek mythology. It has been found in different societies, such as the Greek colonies on the Black Sea, Byzantium, Scandinavia and Sarmatia, and has been used in various ways as a religious and military emblem, a heraldic symbol, a state emblem, a monogram, and simply a decorative sign.

The oldest example of the trient discovered by archeologists on Ukrainian territory dates back to the 1st century A.D. At that time, the trident probably served as a symbol of power in one of the tribes that later became part of the Ukrainian people.

The trident was stamped on the gold and silver coins isssued by Prince Volodymyr the Great (980-1015), who perhaps inherited the symbol from his ancestors as a dynastic coat of arms and passed it on to his sons, Sviatopolk I (1015-1019) and Yaroslav the Wise (1019-1054).

Other rulers such as Iziaslav Yaroslavych (1054-1078), Sviatopolk II Iziaslavych (1093-1113), and Lev Danylovych (1264-1301) used the bident as their coat of arms. Although the trident continued to be used by some ruling families as a dynastic coat of arms until the 15th century, it was replaced as a state symbol in the 12th century with the Archangel Michael.

The trident appears not only on coins, but also on bricks of the Church of the Tithes in Kyiv (986-996), the tiles of the Dormition Cathedral in Volodymyr-Volynskyi (1160), and the stones of other churches, castles and palaces. It was also used as a decorative element on ceramics, weapons, rings, medallions, seals and manuscripts. Because of its wide use in Rus’, the trident evolved in many directions without losing its basic structure. Almost 200 medival variations on the trident have been discovered.

Various versions of the trident are used by Ukrainian organizations: supporters of the Hetman regime and certain affiliates of the Ukrainian Catholic Church use a trident with a cross, nationalist organizations use a trident with a sword in its center (designed by R. Lisovsky), and the Ukrainian Native Faith Church has incorporated the trident into its blazing sun emblem.

Great coat of arms

Constitutional provisions exist for the establishment of a Great Coat of Arms of Ukraine, [ 8 ] although it was never officially adopted and was published in various heraldic sources. In this variant, the shield is supported by a lion from the Galician Coat of Arms on the left and a Cossack in traditional dress, wielding a musket, the symbol of the Cossack Hetmanate on the right. The Coat of Arms is crowned with the crown of Vladimir the Great, symbolizing Ukrainian sovereignty and decorated with viburnum and wheat at the bottom.

The official adoption of the Great Coat of Arms has to be endorsed by a majority of two thirds vote in the Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian parliament.

The trident was not thought of as a national symbol until 1917, when one of the most prominent Ukrainian historians, Mykhailo Hrushevsky, proposed to adopt it as a national symbol (alongside other variants, including an arbalet, a bow or a cossack carrying a musket, i.e. images that carried considerable historical and cultural and heraldic significance for Ukraine). On 22 March 1918, the Central Rada (parliament) adopted it as the coat of arms of the short-lived Ukrainian People's Republic.

Historical coats of arms

Kingdom of Rus

The coat of arms for Kingdom of Rus (Latin: Regnum Russiæ ) and Duchy of Galicia–Volhynia existed since 12th century. It consisted of lion rampant Or on heater shield Azure. After the occupation of Eastern Galicia by the Kingdom of Poland as a result of the Galicia–Volhynia Wars, the coat of arms with many changes was adopted as part of the Ruthenian Voivodeship (Latin: Palatinatus russiae , Russian Palatine). It was abandoned with partition of Poland and annexation of territory by the Austrian Empire. At the end of World War I and dissolution of Austria-Hungary, the West Ukrainian People's Republic revived the coat of arms. With annexation of the West Ukraine by Poland again in 1918 and later the Soviet Union, the gold lion symbol became coat of arms for city of Lviv.

Kingdom of Rus (West Ukraine)
Coat of arms of the Kingdom of Rus Coat of arms of the Ruthenian Voivodeship Coat of arms of the West Ukrainian People's Republic

Kozak with musket

A Cossack with a musket was an emblem of the Zaporizhian Host and later the state emblem of the Hetmanate and the Ukrainian State. The origin of the emblem is uncertain, while its first records date back to 1592. On the initiative of Pyotr Rumyantsev the emblem was phased out and replaced by the Russian double-headed eagle in 1767.

A Cossack with a rifle was restored by the Hetman of Ukraine Pavlo Skoropadsky in 1918. However, later the emblem disappeared again until in 2005 it reappeared on the proposed Great Seal of Ukraine.

The Zaporizhian Host (Ukrainian State)
Coat of arms of Zaporizhian Host Coat of arms of the Ukrainian State (1918)

Carpathian Ruthenia

The coat of arms was created after the end of the First World War, when Carpathian Ruthenia (then called Subcarpathian Rus') was transferred from Hungary to the newly created state of Czechoslovakia. It was designed in 1920 by Czech historian Gustav Friedrich. The Ruthenians had been promised autonomy within the new country, and therefore a coat of arms was created for their land. [ citation needed ]

Carpathian Ruthenia
Coat of arms of Carpathian Ruthenia Coat of arms of the current Zakarpattia Oblast

The coat of arms shows the Ukrainian tinctures (heraldic colours) of blue and gold in its first (dexter) field and a red bear on silver in its second field. The bear is perhaps a symbol of Carpathian wildlife. The horizontal lines (in heraldry called bars) could perhaps have been inspired by the partitions per fess in the coat of arms of Hungary, to which the territory had belonged.

The arms were also used by the short-lived state of Carpatho-Ukraine in 1939, but with the addition of the Ukrainian trident in the uppermost blue field, used previously by the Ukrainian People's Republic. Since the territory is the same for the current Zakarpattia Oblast, the oblast uses the arms as its own.

Ukrainian Soviet Socialistic Republic

The coat of arms of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic was adopted on March 14, 1919 by the government of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and subsequently modified on November 7, 1928, January 30, 1937 and November 21, 1949. The coat of arms of 1949 is based on the coat of arms of the Soviet Union and features the hammer and sickle, the red star, a sunrise and ears of wheat on its outer rims. The rising sun stands for the future of the Soviet Ukrainian nation, the star as well as the hammer and sickle for the victory of communism and the "world-wide socialist community of states". The banner bears the Soviet Union state motto ("Workers of the world, unite!") in both the Ukrainian and Russian languages. The name of the Ukrainian SSR is shown only in Ukrainian. In 1992, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the independence of Ukraine, the emblem was changed to the present coat of arms of Ukraine, the tryzub (trident) coat of arms.

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