June 21, 2016

2632 UKRAINE - Vertep in Galicia

2632 Ukrainian Christmas Vertep theater group in 1948,
in village of Trostianets, Zboriv District, Ternopil Province

Vertep is a portable puppet theatre and drama predominantly in Ukraine (but also met in Russia, Belarus, Croatia and Serbia), which presents the nativity scene, other mystery plays, and later secular plots as well. The original meaning of the word is "secret place", "cave", "den", referring to the cave where Christ was born, i.e., the Bethlehem Cave in the liturgy of the Russian Orthodox Church. Religious Christmas carols were also sung, often in harmony.

It first appeared in the latter half of the 16th century, and is believed that it was introduced by a student of the Kiev-Mohyla Academy. The vertep puppet theatre was made familiar to Ukrainian rural communities by wandering deacons and students of the above-mentioned Academy. It had numerous regional variants, and the performance was divided into two separate sections, sacred and secular, with the latter taking the form of either a tragedy or a comedy.

The sacred act was based on the Nativity scene with interludes, while the secular was based on day-to-day life often lampooning the various national traits of the local population with characters such as the Kozak (Ukrainian/Cossack), Liakh (Pole), Moskal (Russian), Zhyd (Jew), Tsyhan (Gypsy). Each was accompanied by representative dance music (Kozachok, Krakowiak, Kamarinskaya, etc.). Some early verteps told of the destruction of the Cossack Sich.

About the stamps
The stamps, depicting English Oak / Quercus robur (2,00 UAH) and European White Elm / Ulmus laevis (8,00 UAH), are part of a series about leaf and fruits, about which I wrote here.

Vertep - Wikipedia

Sender: Iva Suchilova (direct swap)
Sent from Mizikevicha  (Odessa Oblast / Ukraine) on 13.01.2015

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