Names of Finns from the Birch Bark Letters of Novgorod the Great, Pskov, and Staraja Russa.

by Rebecca Lucas (ffride wlffsdotter)

© 2014; all rights reserved
last updated 22nd July 2014

Introduction

The birch bark letters provide us with a glimpse of communications of the Novgorodian Lands, in particular the cities of Novgorod the Great, Pskov, and Staraja Russa. They recorded business transactions, debts, and personal correspondence between individuals, including dealings with the Finnic-language speaking Saami, Karelians, Chudes, and Livonians. These names, their interpretations, and their etymologies presented below, all come from the article:

Janne Saarikivi. 2007. "Finnic Personal Names on Novgorod Birch Bark Documents" Slavica Helsingiensia 32; 196-246

Saarikivi transliterated the names from Cyrillic into Roman script, using the Scholarly system (also known as the 'Scientific' system). The original Old Slavic, and modernised transcriptions can be seen at the Medieval Russian Documents on Birchbark site. Each entry below includes a link to its online record, including approximate dates. It is also clear from looking at the document transcriptions, that Saarikivi frequently put these names into the nominative case, often without indicating what the original form was. She does, however mark some reconstructed names with an asterisk (*).

I would strongly recommend reading "Finnic Personal Names on Novgorod Birch Bark Documents", as it is in English, is available online, and there is every chance I have misunderstood the information presented, as I do not know any Finnic linguistics.

If you want to combine name elements with another source, using a different transliteration system, see the University of Arizona Library's Slavic Information Literacy website, or Podolak (2013) for information about the various transliteration and transcription systems in common use.

Full Names

Only a few examples of masculine names, with more than a single element, were presented:

Name Letter number Date band
Kjurikъ Tjulpinъ Novgorod no. 138 1300-1320
Martyn Tartaj Novgorod no. 496 1430-1450
Mostok Libinъ Novgorod no. 776 1140-1160
Novzě Lopinъ Novgorod no. 249 1380-1400
Semënka Korělinъ Novgorod no. 243 1420-1430
Siduj Aviničъ Novgorod no. 278 1360-1380
Vaivasъ Vajakšin Novgorod no. 130 1360-1380
Van Měličъ Novgorod no. 534 1380-1400

Personal Names

Masculine names

Name Letter number Date band Notes
*Aljuj Novgorod no. 138 1300-1320 Attested in the patronymic Aljuev
*Ava or *Avi Novgorod no. 278 1360-1380 Attested in the patronymic Aviničъ
Ěkuj Novgorod no. 2 1360-1380  
Gamizila Novgorod no. 454 1180-1200  
Gavъko Novgorod no. 502 1180-1200 Hypocoristic Gabriel, or Finnish haukka, "falcon".
Gjulopa Novgorod nos. 729 and 926 1160-1180
and 1200-1220
From Finnic holappa, "soldier, servant"?
*Gymuj Novgorod no. 403 1360-1380 Found in patronymic form, Gymujevъ, the name derives from *huima meaning "frisky, dizzy, crazy"
Gjuvij Novgorod no. 249 1380-1400 From Finnic *hüvä "good"
Hъmunъ Novgorod no. 526 1050-1075 From Finnic *himo(i), "lust, desire"?
Igala Novgorod no. 249 1380-1400 From Finnic iha "delightful, charming"
*Igolaida Novgorod no. 278 1360-1380 (Found in genitive adjectival form Igolaidovaja). From Finnic iha "delightful, charming"
Ikagalъ Novgorod no. 278 1360-1380 From *ikä, "great age" and *halu, "wish, strong desire"
Kъrga Staraja Russa no. 20 1140-1160 From kurki, "crane", or kurko, "devil, evil spirit"
Kavkagala Novgorod no. 249 1380-1400 From kauka, "long" or "remote"
Kjurikъ Pskov no. 6
and Novgorod no. 138
1260-1280
and 1300-1320
From *kurikka, "club"?
Kulba Novgorod no. 161 1410-1420  
Kulotka Novgorod nos. 105 and 656 1160-1180 From Slavic kulak, "fist", or Finnic kuule-, "hear, sound".
Kuorila Novgorod no. 373 1410-1420 From *kura "left handed"
Kurъ Novgorod no. 690 1360-1380 From *kura "left handed"
Lěiniu Novgorod no. 278 1360-1380 From leina, "feeble, weak"
Lěnovixtъ (or Lěnvixtъ) Novgorod no. 44 1360-1380 From leina, "feeble, weak" and *mees, "man"
Ladopga Novgorod no. 141 1280-1300  
Laduga Novgorod no. 50 1360-1380  
Martyn Novgorod no. 496 1430-1450  
*Mělь Novgorod no. 534 1380-1400 Attested in the patronymic Měličъ
Mělitъ Novgorod no. 2 1360-1380  
Mika Novgorod no. 44 1360-1380 From leina, "feeble, weak" and *mees, "man"
Mostok Novgorod no. 776 1140-1160 Identified as a Livonian.
Mundanaxtъ Novgorod no. 403 1360-1380  
Mundui Novgorod no. 249 1380-1400  
Munomělъ Novgorod no. 278 1360-1380 From Finnic meeli, "mind, desire"
Novzě Novgorod no. 249 1380-1400 From Finnic nouse, "to stand"
Nustui Novgorod no. 336 1120-1140 From Finnic nosta, "to rise"
Ojavelga Novgorod no. 230 1200-1220  
Pervękъ Novgorod no. 326 1320-1340  
Rьmьša Novgorod no. 725 1180-1200  
Semënka Novgorod no. 243 1420-1430  
Siduj Novgorod nos. 278 and 476 1360-1380 Hypocoristic of Isidor?
Simuj Novgorod no. 496 1430-1450 Hypocoristic of Simon
Taduj Novgorod no. 141 1280-1300 Finnish personal name Tatu, a form of David
Tyrinъ Novgorod no. 1 1380-1400  
Uda Novgorod no. 124 1400-1410  
Vaivasъ Novgorod no. 130 1360-1380  
Valitъ Novgorod no. 130 1360-1380 Possibly Vallittu, "possessed (by gods or good spirits)"?
*Van Novgorod no. 534 1380-1400 (Found as dative case Vaniu)
Vělьjakazъ Novgorod no. 2 1360-1380  
Vělьjutъ Novgorod no. 2 1360-1380  
Vihtimasъ Novgorod no. 2 1360-1380  
Vigala Novgorod no. 260 1370-1385 From Finnic *viha, "anger; hatred"
Vigarь Novgorod no. 130 1360-1380 From Finnic *viha, "anger; hatred"
Vigui Novgorod no. 25 1400-1410 From Finnic *viha, "anger; hatred"
Vinilъ Staraja Russa no. 30 1180-1200  
Vozemutъ Novgorod no. 2 1360-1380  

Bynames

Due to the letters being written in Old Slavic, patronymics with Finnish personal names, combined with Slavic suffixes were recorded:

Masculine bynames

Name Letter number Date band Notes
Aljuev Novgorod no. 138 1300-1320 Patronymic from the Finnic name *Aljuj
Aviničъ Novgorod no. 278 1360-1380 Patronymic from the Finnic name *Ava or *Avi
Čjudinъ Novgorod nos. 159 and 589 1160-1180, and 1340-1360 Ethnonym, "of the Chudes"
Gjulopiničъ Novgorod nos. 729 and 926 1160-1180
and 1200-1220
Patronymic, from holappa, "soldier, servant"?
Gymujevъ Novgorod no. 403 1360-1380 Patronymic formed proposed name *Gymuj, from *huima meaning "frisky, dizzy, crazy"
Igalinъ Novgorod no. 278 1360-1380 Patronymic, *Igala's son, from iha "delightful, charming"
Korělinъ Novgorod no. 243 1420-1440 Ethnonym, "Karelian"
Kulotinič Staraja Russa no. 14 1160-1180 From Slavic kulak, "fist", or Finnic kuule-, "hear, sound".
Libinъ Novgorod no. 776 1140-1160 Ethnonym, "Livonian"
Lopinъ Novgorod no. 249 1380-1400 Ethnonym, "of the Saami"
Lopinkovъ Novgorod no. 2 1360-1380 Ethnonym, "of the Saami"
Měličъ Novgorod no. 534 1380-1400 Patronymic, son of *Mělь
Pjuxtinъ Novgorod no. 403 1360-1380 Patronymic, possibly from pyhä "sacred, holy"
Tartaj Novgorod no. 496 1430-1450 From Karelian tatoi, "father, uncle"
Tjulpinъ Novgorod no. 138 1300-1320 From Finnic tylppä, "blunt, dull"?
Vajakšin Novgorod no. 130 1360-1380  
Varmin Novgorod no. 249 1380-1400 Patronymic form of name, possibly from Finnic *varma "sure, true, certain, reliable"

Feminine bynames

Two Finnic women were mentioned, by what we would consider their descriptive bynames, rather than a "proper" personal name:
Name Letter number Date band Notes
Čjudka Novgorod no. 22 1360-1380 Ethnonym, "of the Chudes"
Igolaidovaja Novgorod no. 278 1360-1380 Byname, possibly "*Igolaida's wife". From Finnic iha "delightful, charming".

References