Slavic Bear Fighting in History and Today

Since ancient times in Russia there were many brave and courageous people, who feared not to engage in confrontation with nature. In Russia, it has been dubbed “Bear fun.” It includes the following fun: the bear fight, bear baiting and bear comedy. Bear battle is rooted in ancient times as historians say that the bear fight was distributed in Russia before her baptism. So, on the walls of St. Sophia Cathedral Kiev-fight scene shows a bear with a man. This fresco dates from the first third of the 11th century. In a written monuments, “Supplication of Daniel the Exile”, mentioned buffoon, who fought with the wild beast. The man attacked the bear with a spear, was depicted on many jewelry Slavs, for example, on a silver bracelet 12th century. The struggle of man and beast portrayed in Russia on coins and various seals. An example is the coin of Prince Boris Alexandrovich found in Tver.

In many ways, get information about the bear fights allow Slavic written records. In Chetiyah Mine (Old Russian monuments, describing the birthdays of saints) there is a place, which refers to the prohibition of the struggle of man and bear. This, according to the church, is a sin. On innocent instructed to impose all sorts of punishment. On the bear fights in Russia, we can learn not only from the Russian literary monuments.

In the records of S. Herberstein it is told about Russian dangerous pastime with a description of the bear fight. It boils down to the fact that the bears were caught in the woods, and then brought in a special hut where animals were locked. Bear fight was arranged for fun in the streets with such fights organized influential and wealthy people. A few commoners with wooden pitchforks ran up to the bears and angered them, forcing them to join the battle. Furious animal attacked and scratched people and then the people fled from animals to the prince or boyar. Most often, the instigator of such merrymaking spared wounded participants in the battle and he gave them food and clothing. In the records of Herberstein – this fun group called it “the fight”.

The story has a description of the battle alone as this terrible fun is prescribed by Russian Tsars. Caught wild bear in the forest, arranging various traps. Trap was most often a pit in which the animals were dumped and in the pits bears knitted and then imprisoned in an iron cage. The fight itself was especially cruel, especially by today standards, leaving them out of it only one way out: either animal or human death. Small size arena portages on all sides by walls and there was a man with a spear. When the bear is agitated on the man, the target man has to kill a bear once due to the fact that this is a serious beast that attacks immediately after it sees the person. Beast stands on his hind legs and with a wild roar goes to the person. The task of man is to hit it in the chest with a spear or the bear would kill him immediately. If it does not, then bear immediately lifts on his back legs and crushes and mangles the warrior. The man who won the fight with a bear, goes to the cellar, where he drinks to his unconscious, “in honor of the emperor.” That’s was appreciated in lives of ordinary people in Russia. But talk about the inhumanity of such accounts is not fun at all times today. To join the fight with the owner of the forest, some men agreed voluntarily because there was no greater thing a warrior could do. Therefore, Russia has always been famous for such brave acts. Among other things, sometimes for fights with bears there was given a hefty amount of money so naturally this is another incentive for battle. There is another very interesting kind of battle – Bear fun.

The bear attacked unarmed people so the two rivals joined the fray. In bear-fun there were used only trained bears. Therefore, in this kind of fight there was less bloodshed than the previous one. But it is believed that the bear is almost impossible to taming. With modern circus frequent cases of attacks of bears on the artists. According to the degree of danger bear stands on the first position among all human ability to train animals. Therefore bear fun is not so harmless kind of battle too. In that case, beside the bear the man stood with pitchforks, ready to stab a predator at the last possible aggression. Bear fighting took place, for the most part, in the Middle Ages. Bear fights while there were almost everywhere. In rural areas, villages, and cities and most often, they were at fairs and festivities. Many fights can be seen on Shrove Tuesday. The existence of a bear fight lasted until the early 19th century. By this time remained the safest form of combat. “Fight” went unarmed man, and his opponent was always tame. Bear fights took place in the most central and northern Russia. Distributed bear fights were also on the Volga and in Belarus. Here the last battles took place in the late 19th and early 20th century. Bear fight for hunters had a slightly different meaning. We remember with interest of these traditions of our ancestors. For us – it’s just a story. In the new 21st century, hardly anyone dares to fight with a bear. Firstly, the time has changed, and, secondly, the bears themselves have not.

What do you think?

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