Domostroi

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Domostroi

 

a literary work of the mid-16th century consisting of a collection of rules of behavior for the townsman, which were intended to guide him in his relations with the secular authorities and the church, as well as his family and servants.

The Domostroi contains detailed instructions on subjects ranging from the preparation of food, the reception of guests, weddings and other rituals, child rearing, housekeeping, trade, and the payment of taxes to advice on treating sick people. It reflects the changes taking place in 16th-century socioeconomic life and in the world view of the well-to-do townsman. However, the new elements in the Domostroi are closely interwoven with old ideas. The townsman’s household was by now linked to the market, but large quantities of provisions were still being stored up; voluntary service by servants is mentioned, but the labor of kholopy (slaves) is also discussed. According to the Domostroi, the wealthy townsman owes his place in society not to noble birth but, rather, to his own labor and personal initiative. The Domostroi teaches obedience to the head of the family—the gospodin—and in public life, to the tsar and the authorities. The wife, according to the Domostroi, takes part in organizing the household and rearing children, but should she commit an offense, she, like the servants, is to be punished. In the counsels on educating children, instruction in handicrafts and trade is stressed, accompanied by the well-known advice to “smash the ribs” of the obstinate and the disobedient. The language of the Domostroi is colloquial, colorful, and expressive.

PUBLICATIONS

Domostroi po spisku imperatorskogo Obshchestva istorii i drevnostei rossiiskikh. Moscow, 1882.
Domostroi po Konshinskomu spisku i podobnym. Text prepared by A. Orlov. Books 1-2. Moscow, 1908-10.

REFERENCES

Sokolova, M. A. Ocherki po iazyku delovykh pamiatnikov XVI v. Leningrad, 1957.
Zimin, A. A. I. S. Peresvetov i ego sovremenniki. Moscow, 1958. Pages 55-70. (Bibliography.)

V. I. KORETSKH