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Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks (wikipedia.org)
135 points by spectramax on May 18, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 13 comments

“Turkish devil”, indeed; note the irony, the title of the person who wrote the purported letter is “Kosh otaman”, a title with a Turkic word:-)

There’s confusion between “Kazakh” and “Cossack”, much was at stake on definitions like this, especially in earlier times when Turanic ideas were en vogue. Tolstoy’s novel is about the people mentioned here, who are Christian.

Turkic origin is not the only possible root - there is also a Scandinavian theory that ties hetman and otaman together (their meaning is similar and at some point was used interchangeably) and also a Germanic root.

Source is in Russian (couldn’t find an English one): https://ru.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Атаман

> (couldn’t find an English one)

Here are Wikipedia pages in Ukrainian[1] and English[2]

[1] https://uk.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%9E%D1%82%D0%B0%D0%BC%D0%B0...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ataman

Thanks! Didn’t search hard enough.

The 'Cossack' Wikipedia page explicitly says that 'Kazakh' isn't to be confused with 'Cossack.' Are they in fact related etymologically?

Yes, most likely. They both come from a word meaning "free folk", and though Cossack and Kazakh communities are very different, they both formed from people that came from an area controlled by a centralized power to a place where they could live independently and rules by their own law. In general, it is no wonder that the word meaning "free folk" ended up being used for different people - it is a popular concept, United States also calls itself "the Land of the Free" - so if we spoke a Turkish language, Americans might be Cossacks too :)

I love this story and painting, but I wonder.. did the Cossacks hold their ground, or did the Sultan eventually get them?

One can say he did not, and they did. The most likely context of this is one of the countless wars between Ottomans and Russia for the control over Ukraine, south of Russia and Crimea. Most likely this one: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russo-Turkish_War_(1676%E2%80%... Note that there were different Cossack communities there, and some were recognizing Ottomans as rulers, and some did not. The initial letter was probably written to the latter, and is by the standards of that time pretty mild - basically just asking the Cossacks to bend the knee, like their fellow people on the other end of the river did, and stop harassing the Ottoman territories. But these Cossacks were having none of it, and by the end of the war Russia ended up owning their side of Ukraine (separated by the Dnepr river) while Ottomans ended up owning the other part. Of course, it soon led to the next war, of which there was about a dozen overall. Cossacks as a community (or rather very diverse set of communities) survived most of them, until the Communist revolution, which largely destroyed their way of life. Though it is said to be reviving now, not sure whether it is authentic anymore.

That’s one of the most lively paintings I’ve ever seen. I suspect there are depths of symbolism of which I’m totally unaware and probably a bunch of insults to ethnic groups, but to my untrained eye it reminds me of Bruegel the Elder meets Norman Rockwell.

One interesting detail is the rolled banners. Some of them are yellow and blue - same flags that modern Ukraine uses. Others are black and red - the colors used by Ukrainian rebel armies against Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth, Ottoman Empire, and Russia. Centuries later black and red banners were used by Euromaidan protesters.

I've always interpreted it as capturing the moment the 'kill a hedgehog with your bare ass' line is being composed.

> The second version of "The Cossacks" the artist tried to make more "historically authentic". In 1932 it was presented by the Tretyakov Gallery to the M. F. Sumtsov Kharkiv Historical Museum.

The differences in the two versions is interesting. It's mostly some subtle differences in hair styles and clothing design. I'm curious what the exact motivation/reasons were.

> the crick in our dick


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