World Academy of Carpatho-Rusyn Culture



Dolyniane/Dolyshniany/Lowlanders — the numerically largest Carpatho-Rusyn ethnographic group. Dolyniane Rusyns inhabit *Subcarpathian Rus’ from the Teresva River valley in the east to the present-day boundary of Ukraine and Slovakia, and still farther west to the Laborec river below the Vihorlat ridge in southeastern Slovakia. The southern extent of Dolyniane-inhabited territory coincides with the Rusyn-Magyar ethnographic boundary. Its northern extent coincides with a line of settlements that begins in the west near the town of Michalovce on the Laborec river, skirts along the southern edge of the Vihorlat ridge through the villages of Klokocov, Poruba, Hlivistia, and Benatina, and from there eastward into present-day Ukraine along a line that includes Zavosyno—Zabrid’—Sil’—Stavne—Liuta—Rodnykova Huta—Han’kovytsia—Mizhhiria— Synevyrs’ka Poliana to the crest of the Carpathians. The eastern boundary of Dolyniane-inhabited territory falls between the Shopurka and Chorna Tysa rivers from the mountain crests in the north to a few villages (Craciunesti/Krachunovo, Tisa/Mikovo, Rona de Sus/Vyshnia Runa) along the southern bank of the Tisza/Tisa River in Romania. Within this territory there are just over 400 villages (see Map 3). Based on local differences, the Dolyniane may be divided into several sub-groups based largely on the river valleys they inhabit: the Teresva, Tereblia, Rika, Borzhava, and Turia. More or less homogeneous in terms of their ethnolinguistic characteristics are the Dolyniane who live below the Vihorlat ridge, and along the lower valley of the Uzh and central valley of the Latorytsia rivers, including the villages southeast of Mukachevo.

Among the various Carpathian ethnographic groups, the Dolyniane are the primary representatives of Rusyn distinctiveness. As early as the ninth and tenth centuries this group of Rusyns, owing to geographic and political factors, had become separated from the rest of the East Slavic world and became a part of the socioeconomic and cultural sphere of those peoples living in central Europe, in particular in the Danubian Basin. Beginning in the late eleventh century, Rusyn-inhabited territory became an integral part of the Hungarian Kingdom which, in terms of political and cultural life, had definitively separated the Dolyniane from other East Slavs, who were part of Kievan Rus’. The differences between the political institutions and historical-cultural processes of Kievan Rus’ and those of the Hungarian Kingdom were a crucial factor in the distinct ethno-cultural evolution of the Dolyniane Rusyns. They acquired cultural characteristics, historical experiences, and a life-style—norms of conduct in family and economic relations—similar to those of neighboring peoples in central Europe, with whom they lived in the same state structures in the Hungarian Kingdom until the early sixteenth century, and from then until 1918 in the Habsburg Monarchy.

The Dolyniane continue to earn their livelihood through agriculture. In most cases, livestock raising at best only supplements to the growing of crops. Dolyniane settlement patterns consist generally of large villages with as many as a hundred homes clustered along one main street and, in some cases, along other, parallel streets. In contrast to Boiko and Hutsul homesteads, Dolyniane houses and farm buildings are laid out in an unstructured fashion and are not connected to each other. Until the end of the nineteenth century all structures were built with wood. Since the early twentieth century, however, as timber became less available and more expensive for dwellers in the lowlands and foothills, the Dolyniane increasingly used for building material unbaked bricks made from blocks of dried earth, whose production became the specialty of local *Gypsies. Only in the upper mountain valleys did the Dolyniane continue to build wooden structures.

Among the Dolyniane there are several local or sub-regional differences. These are most evident in the Maramorosh region, where Dolyniane live in the lowlands around the town of Khust and in the Teresva, Tereblia, Rika, and Tisza/Tysa river valleys. To a certain degree residents in this region have been influenced by the cultures of neighboring Transylvania and by cultures in the Balkans, which in earlier times had been the source of the so-called *Vlach colonization. The distinctiveness of the Maramorosh Dolyniane is evident in their building techniques (largely in wood), the layout of their courtyards, their ornamental traditional dress, their folk music and food, and the relatively higher degree of livestock raising, in particular of what for Rusyns is a relatively exotic animal, the buffalo.

Among Dolyniane west of Khust, that is, between the Borzhava and Latorytsia valleys, intensive agriculture, orchards, and vineyards are the norm and livestock raising is less common. The Dolyniane life-style is heavily influenced by that of their *Magyar neighbors, so much so that both cultures have blended and are basically indistinguishable from one other. The same applies to Dolyniane Rusyns still farther west and northwest of Mukachevo as far as Uzhhorod. Farther north, however, in the upper valleys of the Borzhava, Latorytsia, and Uzh rivers, livestock becomes important among the Dolyniane, whose life-style and work patterns are similar to those of neighboring Boikos farther north.

Finally, among the Dolyniane along the lower valley of the Uzh River and in Rusyn villages in Slovakia below the Vihorlat ridge as far west as the Laborec’ River the influence of neighboring Slovaks is evident. Intensive agricultural practices are typical for this region. Farther north, in the mountainous areas along the Slovak-Polish border, livestock raising has long been the predominant form of livelihood, and the techniques employed, moreover, reflect those brought during the period of Vlach colonization.

When, in the nineteenth century, national awakenings spread among the peoples of central Europe, it was among the Dolyniane that a distinct Rusyn identity developed, one which was clearly differentiated from neighboring Rusyns (Ukrainians) in eastern Galicia. Gradually, the ethnographic differences of the Dolyniane Rusyns were transformed into national differences. These differences found political expression in national programs based in large part on the repeated demand of Rusyns for self-government or *autonomy, which began in 1848 and were to continue throughout the rest of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Bibliography: Hryhorii Kupchanko, Uhorska Rus’ y ey russky zhytely (Vienna, 1897), esp. pp. 46-62; Sandor Bonkalo, A Rutenek (Ruszinok) (Budapest, 1940; 2nd ed. Basel and Budapest, 1996)—English ed.: Alexander Bonkalo, The Rusyns (New York, 1990); Th. Beregiensis [Hiiador Stryps’kyi], “Iak narod dilyt’ sebe,” Lyteraturna nedilia, II, 18 (Uzhhorod, 1942), pp. 185-188; Mykhailo Tyvodar, “Etnoistorychnyi ta etnokul’turnyi rozvytok ukraintsiv Zakarpattia,” in Carpatica/Karpatyka, No. 6 (Uzhhorod, 1999), esp. pp. 32-44.

Ivan Pop

Entry courtesy of Encyclopedia of Rusyn History and Culture.

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