Hunting heraldry of the Volyn and Kyiv regions in the 16th – early 17th centuries
Keywords:coat of arms, hunting fauna, Volyn voivodeship, Kyiv voivodeship, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the early modern period
The article is devoted to the subjects and symbolism in the hunting heraldry of the Volyn and Kyiv regions in the 16th – early 17th centuries. Among the innovations of this time period is the appearance of atypical imagery in Ukrainian heraldry, namely that of wild animals and hunting horns. The author analyzes the well-known coats of arms associated with hunting, their prevalence and probable reasons for their obscurity in these areas compared to the Kingdom of Poland.
In the early modern period, nobility used heraldic signs and legends to emphasize their ancient origins, land tenureship and political influence. The appearance of wild animals on Ruthenian coats of arms was symptomatic of the spread of Western heraldic tradition and hunting culture as such. There were multiple instances of symbiosis between the Ruthenian heraldic tradition and Western templates, the most striking of which is the “Korczak” coat of arms. It is believed that the mantling in the form of a dog of the Hungarian Vizsla breed, depicted sitting in a bowl is of Hungarian origin, but the image of the shield (an "escutcheon") of this coat of arms is actually Ruthenian, interpreted as three belts, logs or rivers. Less prolific than the “Korczak” coat of arms and its variations were the addendum of Western heraldic attributes to the old coats of arms, such as that of hunting horns.
Most of the Western-style coats of arms known or relatively known in these areas belonged to those granted to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania nobility in 1413. Many of them were distributed mainly among the small gentry of Polish origin or Galician immigrants. Instead, in the Volyn and Kyiv regions, the gentry preferred their own historical coats of arms, created on the basis of ancient territorial symbolism. Conceivably, their commitment to ancient heraldic tradition was intended to accentuate their Ruthenian identity.