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Lipovans or Lippovans (Romanian: Lipoveni, Ukrainian: Липовани, Russian: Липовáне, Bulgarian: липованци) are Old Believers, mostly of Russian ethnic origin, who settled in the Moldavian Principality, and in the regions of Dobruja and Eastern Muntenia. According to the Romanian census of 2002, there are a total of 35,791 Lipovans in Romania, of whom 21,623 live in Dobruja.
The accepted etymology is that it is derived from the name of Filipp Pustosviat (1672–1742), leader of the group of dissenters who emigrated to what is now Romania; its members were referred to as Filippoveni, abbreviated to Lipoveni. Other suggestions include relations to the Slavic word Липа, lipa, meaning "linden tree", or to "Filippovka", a holiday name dedicated to Saint Philip.
The Lipovans emigrated from Russia in the 18th century, as dissenters from the main Russian Orthodox Church. They settled along the Prut River in Moldavia and in the Danube Delta. They have maintained strong religious traditions which predate the reforms of the Russian Orthodox Church undertaken during the rule of Patriarch Nikon. When the Patriarch made changes to worship in 1652, some believers carried on worshipping in the "old way". In that sense, they continued to speak Old Russian, to cross themselves with two fingers instead of three, and to keep their beards. The Russian government and the Orthodox Church persecuted them, and as a result some committed suicide by burning themselves, with many other being forced to emigrate.
In 1876, the Lipovans were joined by members of the Skoptsy sect, who also emigrated to Romania to escape persecution.
The main centre of Lipovan community in Ukraine is the town of Vilkovo, which has its own church, St Nicholas. In order to construct their homes, the Lipovans create islets of dry land by digging mud out from trenches and making a series of canals. The house walls are made of reed and mud, and thatching is standard for the roofing. Because of the characteristics of these materials, the buildings have a tendency to sink into the mud and need to be rebuilt every few years.
For details on the Lipovans in Bulgaria, see Russians in Bulgaria.
- Second-Hand Souls: Selected Writing by Nichita Danilov (translated from Romanian by Sean Cotter)
- Lipovan's icons: The Bleschunov Municipal Museum of Personal Collections
- Romania. Religious Freedom Report 1999
- Zorile newspaper published in Romanian and Russian