Zaporozhian Cossacks - Organization - Cossack Kleinody

Cossack Kleinody

The most important items of the host were the Cossack Kleinody (always in plural; related to Reichskleinodien) that consisted of valuable military distinctions, regalia, and attributes of the Ukrainian Cossacks and were used until the 19th century. Kleinody were awarded to Zaporizhian Cossacks by the Polish king Stefan Batory on August 20, 1576 to Bohdan Ruzhynsky, among which were khoruhva, bunchuk, bulawa, and a seal with a coat of arms on which was depicted a cossack with a rifle (samopal). The kleinody were assigned to hetman's assistants for safekeeping, thus there have appeared such ranks as khorunzhy (flag-bearer), bunchuzhny (staff-keeper) etc. Later part of Cossack kleinody became pernachs, kettledrums (lytavry), kurin banners (badges), batons, and others.

The highest symbol of power was bulawa, or mace, that was carried by hetmans and kish otamans. For example, Bohdan Khmelnytsky already from 1648 carried a silver gold-covered bulawa decorated with pearls and other valuable gem stones. The cossack colonels had pernachs (shestopers) - smaller ribbed bulawas which were carried behind a belt.

The seal of the Zaporizhian Host was produced in a round form out of silver with a depiction of cossack in a gabled cap on a head, in kaftan with buttons on a chest, with a saber (shablya), powder flask on a side, and a self-made rifle (samopal) on the left shoulder. Around the seal was an inscription «Печать славного Війська Запорізького Низового» (The Seal of the glorious Zaporizhian Host). Palanka's and kurin's seals were either round or rectangular with images of lions, deers, horses, moon, stars, crowns, lances, sabers, and bows.

Khoruhva was mostly of a crimson color embroidered with coats of arms, saints, crosses, and others. It was always carried in front of the army next to the hetman or otaman. A badge (znachok) was a name for a kurin's or company's (sotnia) banners. There was a tradition when the newly elected colonel was required at his own expense prepare palanka's banner. One of the banners was preserved until 1845 in Kuban and was made out of tissue in two colors: yellow and blue. Kettledrums (lytavry) were large copper boilers that were fitted with a leather which served for transmission of various signals (calling cossacks to a council, raising an alarm etc.).

Each item of kleinody was granted to a clearly assigned member of cossack officership (starshina - seniors). For example, in Zaporizhian Host bulawa was given to the otaman; khoruhva - to the whole host although carried by a khorunzhy; bunchuk also was given to otaman, but carried by a bunchuzhny or bunchuk comrade; the seal was preserved by a military judge, while seals of kurin - to kurin otaman and seals of palanka - to colonel of a certain palanka; kettledrums were in possession of a dovbysh (drummer); staffs - to a military yesaul; badges were given to all 38 kurins in possession to the assigned badge comrades. All items of kleidony excepts of kettledrum sticks were stored in the Sich's Pokrova church treasury and were taking out only on a special order of kish otaman. The kettledrum sticks were kept in the kurin with the assigned dovbysh. Sometimes part of kleidony was considered a great silver inkwell (kalamar), an attribute of a military scribe (pysar) of Zaporizhian Host. Similar kleinods had the officership of the Cossack Hetmanate, cossacks of Kuban, Danube, and other cossack societies.

Upon the destruction of the Sich and liquidation of cossacks (in Ukraine) the kleidony were gathered and given away for storage in Hermitage and Transfiguration Cathedral in Saint Petersburg, Kremlin Armoury in Moscow as well as other places of storage. By the end of 19th century the Hermitage stored 17 kurin banners and one khoruhva, the Transfiguration Cathedral contained 20 kurin banners, three bunchuks, one silver bulawa, and one silver gold-covered baton. Today the fate of those national treasures of Ukrainian people is unknown. After the February Revolution in 1917 the Russian Provisional Government adopted the decisions of returning them to Ukraine, however, due to the events of the October Revolution of the same year the decision was not executed. With the proclamation of independence the Ukrainian government has risen in front of leadership of the Russian Federation the issue of returning the national cultural valuables, however no specific agreements were ever reached.

Read more about this topic:  Zaporozhian Cossacks, Organization

Famous quotes containing the word cossack:

    The Cossack eats Poland,
    Like stolen fruit;
    Her last noble is ruined,
    Her last poet mute:
    Straight, into double band
    The victors divide;
    Half for freedom strike and stand;—
    The astonished Muse finds thousands at her side.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)