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On the Origins of the Lubok Text The Register of Dames and Handsome Maidens

Alexandra A. Pletneva


This article is devoted to the attempts to identify the prototype and the sources of The Register of Dames and Handsome Maidens, which was part of the lubok tradition of the 17th–18th centuries. This text is a list of female proper names provided with humorous commentaries. The satirical texts of the 17th century frequently replicate the structure of the documents and literary texts of those times. Some satirical texts represent the structure of church services, an alphabet prayer, a petition, etc. Among the manuscript and lubok texts of the 17th–18th centuries, there is a significant number of texts which include lists of names with humorous characteristics. These texts may be dated back to the Old Russian dictionaries of proper names, e.g., the Commentaries on the Names in Alphabetical Order by Maximus the Greek. Unlike the other texts organized as lists of names, The Register of Dames is related to the wedding ritual, and its probable source can be identified as the register of potential brides for Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich, which was compiled in 1669-1670, when Tsar Alexey was planning to marry for a second time. The text of the Register includes all but two of the names that appear in the probable prototype, including rather rare names. Furthermore, the name Natalia—that is, the tsar’s future wife—is particularly emphasized.


lubok; ancient and medieval Russian literature; wedding ritual; lists of proper names


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