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Image of Skomorokh Art in The History of Ukrainian Literature by Mykhaylo Hrushevskyi

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The authors of the publication:
Kindratiuk Bohdan
p.:
22-31
UDC:
398.54:821.161.2Гру
Bibliographic description:
Kindratiuk, B. (2017) Image of Skomorokh Art in The History of Ukrainian Literature by Mykhaylo Hrushevskyi. Folk Art and Ethnology, 2 (366), 22–31.

Author

Kindratiuk Bohdan

a Doctor of Art Criticism, a professor at Musical Education and Conducting Methods Subdepartment of the Educative and Scientific Institute of Arts of the SIHE Vasyl Stefanyk Ciscarpathian National University (Ivano-Frankivsk)

 

Image of Skomorokh Art in The History of Ukrainian Literature by Mykhaylo Hrushevskyi

 

Abstract

The variegated life of people reflected in the fundamental six-volume work The History of Ukrainian Literature by M. Hrushevskyi (1866–1934) attested the widespread existence of wandering artistic associations, reflections of their images in folklore and written literature as unique sources of information on the skomorokh art, particularly its dialectics in the whole diversity of forms. New knowledge about the social and economic basis of wandering artists – both religious and secular phenomenon, themes and images of works, etymology of the term skomorokh, etc has been picked up thanks to great erudition of M. Hrushevskyi, his familiarity with literary sources, and his innovation in respect of reconstructing the ancient oral and written works. The origins and the primary content of skomorokh phenomenon can be descried in the annual circle of life of ancient Ukrainians, their housekeeping, attitude to both environment and themselves. Celebration of different festive events contributed to the development of artists’ activity. Folk genius captured the importance of creative abilities very well, in particular the significance of mastering instrument and voice, body language, and sense of humour. Among skomorokhs were not only musicians, singers, dancers, animal trainers, but also conjurers, comedians, mimes, jugglers; they were designated in ancient texts as ihretsi, hlumtsi, perelesnyky, smikhotvortsi, hudtsi, spilmany, etc. Owing to the work of M. Hrushevskyi, the image of female skomoroshka-musician was depicted not for the first time. Artists usually received rewards that encouraged leading a settled pattern of lifestyle. In the late XVIth to mid-XVIIth centuries, among taxpayers of Drohobych (in the Lviv region), there were detected skomorokhs as representatives of a separate profession. The stated considerations of the world-renowned researcher are conducive to the correct interpretation of facts and the deep apprehension of historical mentality and customary behaviour of the then people, particularly their attitude to the skomorokh art, with taking into account its evolution. Among a broad range of functions of skomorokhs and reasons for needing a large number of less known musicians, the scholar described their sacred, artistic and aesthetic, glorifying, hedonistic and entertaining roles. The significance of skomorokhs is reinforced by their introducing new musical ideas, especially in the XIIIth–XVth centuries, when a custom of wandering musicians prevailed. Due to popularity of their acting, promoted were musical instruments, art genres, as well as new ones were created. Artists’ performances were stuck in people’s memory for a long time, while epithets they came up with were aptly used in communication. Skomorokhs have become characters of literary works, helped their authors to express themselves better, to convey their ideas to readers. However, the skomorokh art was gradually forbidden, and new genres appeared in lieu of them. The collected material contributes to the better understanding of a consequential role, in the Ukrainian medieval art, of a cohort of skomorokhs and their diverse repertoire, in particular its humorous component, which confirms the optimistic perception of the world by Ukrainians and its reflection in the music-making and performances. Studying the nine-volume work TheHistory of Ukrainian Literature by M. Hrushevskyi raises a number of research issues requiring new studies. Specifically, it should be perspective the investigation of skomorokh phenomenon in the Lithuanian Chronicles, while the Kyiv Pechersk Paterikon is another important illustrated source on ancient performers mentioned by the historian.

 

Keywords

The History of Ukrainian Literature, M. Hrushevskyi, skomorokhs, skomorokh art, functions, performing art.

 

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