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Polotsk Gospel

The Polotsk Gospel dated by the end of the 12th and the beginning of 13th century is one of the most ancient monuments of the Belarusian book culture. The Gospel which has been in Polotsk for many centuries is evidence of centuries-old traditions of the Russian culture and evidence of close relationship not only with other Slavic cultures but also the whole Christian world.

The manuscript is a code of 172 sheets of parchment. Its original binding wasn’t preserved, and the modern copy was made in the 19th century. But it also has a significant damage. On the content this manuscript is a Gospel Evangelion or Liturgical Gospel. Its text is written in calendar order in accordance to church weekly readings. The Polotsk Gospel is written in the Slavic language by beautiful uncial (ancient form of Cyrillic) with brown ink in two columns on each page. There are some elements of the color of the Belarusian language in the text. To create beautiful design there were used strict and solemn headpieces, ornamented initials and colorful headlines.

In the first half of the 19th century, the manuscript was taken away from Belarus to Russia. Today, most part of the Polotsk Gospel is kept in the collection of the Russian National Library in St. Petersburg and its two sheets are in the Russian State Library in Moscow.

Thanks to many years of fruitful work of representatives of national libraries of Belarus and Russia, the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, the Belarusian Exarchate Publishing House have recently completed a unique project on the reconstruction of a facsimile of the Polotsk Gospel. By joint efforts they reconstructed the original and made its high quality digital copy, researched features of the manuscript and the facsimile which had been made with a maximum range of accuracy in reconstruction of its look and original structure.

Therefore, the recreated edition of the Polotsk Gospel allowed not only to unite parts of the book into a single whole book, but also made it possible to return it to the cultural space of Belarus and allowed the widest circles of society to acquaint with this masterpiece.

Visitors of the Book Museum will be able not only see this edition, but also to turn over the pages of the unique edition of the Polotsk Gospel.