Book of Veles

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The only known contour copy of a plank; the book is named after this plank, as it begins with "To Veles this book we devote..."

The Book of Veles (also: Veles Book, Vles book, Vles kniga, Vlesbook, Isenbeck's Planks, Велесова книга, Велесова књига, Велес книга, Книга Велеса, Дощечки Изенбека, Дощьки Изенбека) is a literary forgery[1][2][3] purporting to be a text of ancient Slavic religion and history supposedly written on wooden planks.

It contains what purport to be historical accounts interspersed with religious passages - some of a didactic, moralising character. The book refers to supposed events, the earliest of which would, if real, be datable to around the 7th century BC while the latest would have occurred around the 9th century AD.

The book was allegedly discovered in 1919 and lost in 1941. It is widely believed by scholars to be a forgery made in the 1940s–1950s, or less likely, in the early 19th century. The most decisive evidence for this is the language of the text, which is a mixture of different modern Slavic languages, with erroneous and invented linguistic forms and no regular grammar. Moreover, different modern editions of the book have different versions of the text. Regardless, some Slavic neopagans use it as a sacred text.


Most of the scholars that specialize in the field of mythological studies and Slavic linguistics (such as Boris Rybakov, Andrey Zaliznyak, Leo Klein, and all Russian academic historians and linguists) consider it a forgery.[4] According to these scholars the thorough analysis of the book shows that it was written sometime in the 20th century. The history of the book can be reliably traced only as far as mid-1950s, when the transcribed book and the photograph of one of the planks first appeared in a San Francisco-based, Russian émigré newspaper. Several scholars believe that the entire book is a product of collaboration of the editors of this newspaper and Yuriy Mirolyubov, who later claimed to have found the book. Others believe that either the entire book or the only plank available, were forged in the early 19th century by the Russian collector and forger Alexander Sulakadzev.

The book is written in a language using for the most part Slavic roots and different affixes found also in old East Slavic. Consequently, a large part of the book's text, once transcribed into a modern alphabet, is readable (albeit with some difficulty) by modern speakers of Slavic languages. However, professional linguists and historians, particularly the specialists in ancient Slavic, question many features of its language — vocabulary (modern or medieval Slavic words occasionally and unwittingly used in place of their ancient equivalents), spelling, phonetics (distinct reflections of the nasal vowels, both following Polish and Serbian patterns in different places, the haphazard handling of reduced vowels, etc., etc.), grammar (grammatical forms incompatible with early Slavic languages, combinations of affixes that contradict each other in meaning), etc. These features seem to indicate that the text was artificially "aged" by someone with superficial knowledge of ancient Slavic, and cannot be adequately translated because of lack of any consistent grammar system. In the words of the philologist O.V. Tvorogov:

This analysis leads us to a definite conclusion: we are dealing with an artificial language, "invented" by a person unacquainted with the history of Slavic languages and one who could not create his own language system.

— [5]

In Ukraine, whereas academic scholars agree that the book is a hoax, it became very popular among politicians who consider it genuine and believe it describes real historical facts relevant for establishing Ukrainian ethnicity. In particular, Levko Lukyanenko cited the Book of Veles as historical.[citation needed] In 1999, the book was included in the high school program in Ukraine as a genuine literary and historical piece.[6] Whereas the inclusion was considered controversial in academic circles, the book remained on the program as of 2008.[7][needs update]

Purported description[edit]


The planks were alleged to be 38 cm wide, 22 cm in height and about 0.5 cm thick. The edges and surfaces of the planks are uneven and near the top there are two holes for joining the planks. The text is carved into the planks and later covered with some coloring. Text alignment lines (roughly straight and parallel) are drawn across the planks and the tops of letters are aligned with these lines. The text is written below the lines, rather than above. The size and shape of the letters are different, suggesting that more than one person wrote the text. Some planks were partially or mostly rotten.[citation needed]

History of the book's discovery according to Mirolyubov[edit]

In 1919, a lieutenant of the White Russian Army, Fedor Arturovich Izenbek, found a bunch of wooden planks written in strange script in a looted mansion of Kurakins near Kharkiv (Ukraine). After the defeat of the Army, Isenbeck emigrated to Belgrade, where in 1923 he unsuccessfully tried to sell the planks to the Belgrade library and museum. In 1925 he settled in Brussels, where he gave the planks to Yuriy Mirolyubov, who was the first to study them seriously.[1] Izenbek treated the planks very carefully, did not allow them to be taken out of his house and refused a suggestion by a professor of University of Brussels to hand them over for studying. Later this refusal to permit others to study these texts would lead people to suspect them as forgeries.[citation needed]

For fifteen years Mirolyubov restored, photographed, transcribed (as photographs proved to be unreadable) and finally translated the text. He managed to transcribe most of the planks.[citation needed]

In August 1941 Nazi Germany occupied Brussels, Izenbek died and the planks were lost. Mirolyubov emigrated to the United States and passed the materials in 1953 to professor A. A. Kurenkov (Kur) who then published them in the magazine Zhar-Ptitsa (Жар-птица, "Firebird") from March 1957 until May 1959. Later the text was studied by Sergey Paramonov (Lesnoy).[8]


According to the Book of Veles, in the 10th century BC ("thirteen hundred years before Ermanaric"), pre-Slavic tribes lived in the "land of seven rivers beyond the sea" (possibly corresponding to Semirechye, southeastern Kazakhstan). The book describes the migration of the Slavs through Syria and eventually into the Carpathian mountains, during the course of which they were briefly enslaved by the king "Nabsur" (Nabonassar?). They settled in the Carpathian mountains in the 5th century BC ("fifteen hundred years before Dir"). Several centuries appear to pass without much commotion. The 4th century is described in some detail: during this time the Slavs fought a number of wars with the Goths, Huns, Greeks, and Romans. Many references to Ermanaric and his relatives are present (placing this section of Book of Veles in the same historical context as the story of Jonakr's sons, referenced in numerous European legends and sagas). The Slavs eventually emerged victorious. The period of the 5th to 9th centuries is described briefly; Khazars and Bulgars are mentioned.[citation needed]

The book ends with the Slavic lands descending into disarray and falling under Norman rule.[citation needed]


Plank 2/B[edit]

We were forced to retreat to woods and live as hunters and fishermen. So we could
get away from danger. We survived one darkness and started to build cities
and houses everywhere. After the second darkness there was great frost and we moved
to south for many places there were grassy ... and then Romei were taking our cattle
at a good price and were true to their word. We went
to southern ... greengrassland and had a lot of cattle ...[citation needed]

From Plank 7/A[edit]

Enemies are not as numerous as we are, for we are Rus' and they are not.[citation needed]

Plank 11/A[edit]

We pray and bow to the first Triglav and to him we sing a great glory.
We praise Svarog, grandfather of gods who is to whole gods' kin forefather
and creator of everything living, eternal spring that flows in the summer
and everywhere and in winter and never it freezes. And with that living water he nourishes
and life gives to us until we reach the blessed fields of paradise. And to god Perun, the thunderer, god of battle and fight we say:
"You hold us in life by neverending turning of the circle and lead to path
of Prav through battles to Great Trizna". And all who got killed in the battle -
may they live forever in the Perun's regiment. To god Svetovid glory we
are exalting for he is the god of Prav and Jav and to him we sing the song for he is the light
with which we see the world. We are looking and in Jav we are, and he from Nav
guards us and therefore praise we sing him. We sing and dance to him and call
god of ours to Earth, Sun and stars constantly in light keeps.
And glory all to Svetovid, god of ours that
hearts ours opens for us to admit bad deeds ours
and to good we turn. May he hug us like children for this has been said:
what is created with half of the mind could not be seen,
for it is a great secret how can Svarog be at the same time both Perun and Svetovid.
Two beings in skies Belobog and Crnobog are
And both of them Svarog holds and commands them.
After them come Hors, Veles and Stribog and then Visenj, Lelj and Letic.[citation needed]

From Plank 26/B[edit]

...As time passes, we come to the blue river as time ours
is not endless. There we meet
forefathers our and mothers that in Svarga herds are grazing and trusses
fastening. Their life is just as ours, only there are no Huns nor
Greeks...[citation needed]

From Plank 16 (sample text)[edit]

First two lines, literal text:


Probable spacing (Mirolyubov):

влескнигу сіу птщемо кіу ншемо у кіе ко есте прібезища сіла.
во ноі врмѣноі бя менж якоі бя блга дблѣ іже рщен бящ отц врсі.
[vlesknigu etu ptshchemo kiu nshemo u kie ko este pribezishcha sila.
vo noi vrmenei bya menzh yakoi bya blga dble izhe rshchen byashch otc vrsi.][citation needed]

Modern Russian interpretation:

Велесову книгу эту посвящаем богу нашему, который есть наше прибежище и сила (lit. в боге котором есть прибежище и сила).
В оные времена был муж, который был благ и доблестен, и назван [он] был отцом тиверцев.
[Velesovu knigu etu posvyashchaem bogu nashemu, v boge kotorom est' pribezhishche i sila.
V onye vremena byl muzh, kotoryj byl blag i doblesten, i nazvan byl otcom tivercev.][citation needed]

Translation into English:

This book of Veles we dedicate to our god, in whom is [our] refuge and [our] strength. In those years there was a man, who was good and valiant, and [he] was called the father of Tiverians.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • The Book of Vles or Vles knyha, trans. by Victor Kachur. Columbus, Ohio, 1973. English translation.
  • Kaganskaya, Maya. "The Book of Vles: Saga of a Forgery," Jews and Jewish Topics in Soviet and East-European Publications, # 4 (1986–1987) 3-27.


  1. ^ a b Sichinava, Dmitry. "Почему "Велесова книга" — это фейк" [Why "Veles Book" is a fake] (in Russian). Arzamas. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  2. ^ Suslov, Mikhail; Kotkina, Irina (2020). "Civilizational discourses in doctoral dissertations in post-Soviet Russia". Russia as Civilization. Routledge. p. 171. doi:10.4324/9781003045977-8. ISBN 9781003045977. S2CID 219456430.
  3. ^ Oleh, Kotsyuba (2015). "Rules of Disengagement: Author, Audience, and Experimentation in Ukrainian and Russian Literature of the 1970s and 1980s". Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Science: 22.
  4. ^ What scientists think about the «Veles book» // Compiled by A. Alexeyev (in Russian)
  5. ^ Козлов В.П. "Дощечки Изенбека", или Умершая "Жар-птица" : Hystory : By.rU Source tracing:: "А этот анализ, - пишет Творогов, - приводит нас к совершенно определенному выводу: перед нами искусственный язык, причем "изобретенный" лицом, с историей славянских языков не знакомым и не сумевшим создать свою, последовательно продуманную, языковую систему" 29.| 29 Там же. С. 228.| 28 Цит. по: Творогов О.В. "Влесова книга". С. 222 | 27 Творогов О.В. Когда была написана "Влесова книга"? // Философско-эстетические проблемы древнерусской культуры: Сборник статей. М., 1988. Ч. 2. С. 144-195.
  6. ^ Малянов, Дмитрий (2 December 2011). "Фоменко — жертва фанатизма" [Fomenko - the victim of fanaticism] (in Russian). Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  7. ^ Рудницький, Юрій. "Початок кінця "велесовщини"" [Beginning of the end of "Bessesovschina"] (in Ukrainian). "Главред" magazine, no. 18, 2008. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  8. ^ Valery Korneyev, The Real Life of Sergey Lesnoy
    Ukrainian: Корнєєв В. О., Українська ентомофауністика 2014 5(1) // Справжнє життя Сергея Лесного (матеріали до біографії Сергія Яковича Парамонова)

External links[edit]