All posts by Nicoletta Cabassi

A Curious Case of Culinary Polysemy

Among the language phenomena capable of arousing special attention, it is worth mentioning the polysemy of the gastronomic sector: in particular, butter and oil represent in russian language a polysemic voice with an ambivalent meaning, while possessing functional coherence of use in the kitchen. Both distinct seasoning and condiments of established tradition, in recent years they have been ‘feeding’ a rather rich literature of publications attempting to enhance their organoleptic, health and diet identities. The objective of the present work goes beyond the above topics and focuses on linguistic and semantic arguments in a diachronic perspective. The sources of this study are the main reference dictionaries, supplemented by the consultation of the National Corpus of Russian Language (NKRJa) with particular reference to the subcorpora ancient and old  russian (drevnerusskij/starorusskij); the crossing of the traditional lexicographic practice with the exploration of electronic textual corpora makes  possible to increase the level of reliability of the semantic reconstruction of the word, whose development takes place thanks to its location in various contexts.

In the electronic corpus, the term recurs at least 89 times in 48 documents in nominal forms, 270 times in 69 documents to the singular genitive. Well-represented in our research is also the instrumental case, with 51 occurrences in 28 documents, while the dative only appears 2 times (2 documents). Research did not give results in the prepositional case (both singular and plural); is also indicated the plural accusative of butter, alongside a more rare plural form in -y[1].

The lemma is also documented in other Slavic languages, see: ucr. maslo, bulg. masla, srbcr. maslo, sloven. maslo, cec. màslo, slovc. maslo, pol. masło, lus. maso. M. Vasmer derives it from * maz-slo <from root  i.e. * mag-, the same as the common slavonic  * mazati[2], from the root * mag> maz / mas from which gr. μαγίς (‘mix’, ‘mix’), μᾶζα, (‘mixing’) μάσσω, (‘I spread, I mix’), μαγεύς (‘baker’) [3]. The common slavonic root *mazati would be similar to lituanian mezti, mud-manure[4], lettonian mezt-, mud: Derksen does not exclude derivation from *maz-tlo[5], where the slavic suffix -sl-o  in common slavonic indicates objects[6].

If the reconstruction of the lexeme in the various slavic languages ​​is rather unambiguous, more complex is its meaning which is in a clear relation: see  cfr. ucr. maslo (see olija – oil), bel. masla (see alej– olio), blg. maslo, slov. maslo, srbcr. maslo (only butter or clarified butter – see. ulje-oil), mac. maslo (only oil) cech. maslo (cfr. olej -oil), pol. masło (cfr. olej-oil), srb.-lus. maslo[7].

In modern Russian, the term is defined as «žirovoe veščestvo, polučaemoe iz moloka domašnyh životnych, iz sema, cvetov […]»[8]: the lexicographic sources, besides providing with the main information, the ‘necessary and sufficient condition’ (being fat substance), highlight other ‘additional’ traits and inform about the origin of the fat (vegetable or animal), determining the type (oil or butter), «Židkoe ili tverdoe žirovoe veščestvo, iskustvenno dobyvaemoe od veščestv rastitel’nogo, mineral’nogo or životnogo proischoždenija»[9].

From a first examination of the syntagmatic relation linking the name to the verb, emerge the semantic fields  of maslo – oil, that have been employed for centuries: the domestic use (food and fuel), the religious and the pharmacological ones.

From the early Slavonic and old russian documents it becomes clear how, in the eleventh century, the word maslo had the meaning of vegetable oil[10], in particular of olive oil[11].  From the same morpheme originate maslica[12], the olive tree (now out of use), and maslina[13]  as well, the fruit of the ‘olive’, whose polysemy is derived from the typical alternation of the meaning tree – fruit[14].  With this meaning in the first ancient-Russian texts maslo translates the greek ἔλαιον (oil)[15]. In the sense of oil for food use it is also found in the monastic use of the XII-XIII century[16], to indicate, generically the oil of vegetable origin[17]: what was common in nature in the Mediterranean area, was a rarity in the continental civilization, due to the climatic conditions, therefore valuable and imported substance, reserved for centuries to the pharmacopoeia and the cult.

Along with maslo, another loan, elej[18] (see also olěj) [19], appears to translate the Greek ἔλαιον to indicate the olive tree[20], but whose meaning extends, in contiguity, to the product itself [21]; the lexical connection between the two terms prove to be a function related not only to time but to context as well. In the Bible[22] the use of maslo highlights the predominant significance of olive oil, while only few appear to be the cases in which the butter is meant[23]. Elej, Instead, is used not only to indicate olive oil [24] employed for the usual domestic needs, for food (Gen. 27: 20; 29: 23), illumination (Num. 4:16) [25] or as medical ointment (Is. 1: 6) [26], but rather as the ‘oil’ of unction, a mixture that Jewish tradition[27] intended exclusively for consecration [28]. In the Scriptures,’the anointed of the Lord’ is the chosen and consecrated to a special mission from God (Lev. 8:12): here, elej is richer in semantic values and offers many more occurrences than maslo (45 vs. 8), which seems to act instead as its iponymy and whose sphere is restricted to only ‘primary’, food use[29]. Even in the liturgy and in the rites of the Orthodox church[30] througout the centuries, oil often occurs from the blessing of the bread to that of bishop residence or sacred objects: in particular, in administering some sacraments, baptism, confirmation[31], ordination and anointing of the sick (or extreme unction). In the latter, maslo and elej look in relation of synonymy: the rite was in fact called both eleosvjaščenie and maslosvjaščenie[32]: if the semantic relations of the two terms seem to show, in this context, the same denotation by type of events and register, the productivity and versatility of maslo outside the sacred-ritual sphere made it actually hyperonym of elej: the latter, according to electronic sources, restricted its use prevailing in the religious field, by designating not so much the olive oil for food as a particular mix[33], the church oil[34].

In the Christian tradition of the East and the West, the use of oil has continued to consecrate not only bishops and clergy, but also high civilian offices; through the anointing God legitimized kings and emperors, to whom the priest granted the gifts of the Holy Spirit: the ceremony, according to the Byzantine tradition, took place at the time of the coronation and took the name of miropomazanie because of the use of a perfumed oil[35], the myrrh (miro)[36]. Of this ritual we already have news from the principles of the Muscovite Rus’[37]: the use of maslo[38] seems to confirm here its inclusive relation with the two co-hyponyms (miro, elej) [39], used in ‘narrower’ contexts. Other co-hyponyms in semantic equivalence with miro[40] are chriyzma and mast ‘, already present in the texts of the Canon in the sense of perfumed ointment, balm[41], but also equivalent to the generic ‘fat’[42]. The most recurring combinations of adjective and name in the sense of ‘chrism’ are the same for maslo, elej and miro[43]; as Babaeva recalls, it’s  evident that the attraction of lexemes fixes and helps the development of the new meaning[44]. We remind svjatoj maslo, osvjaščennyj maslo[45], where the attribute denotes the type of oil, also implying the function[46]; another co-occurrence is that of milostinnoe maslo[47], parallel to the combination elej miloserdija[48], oil of charity: the origin of this attraction is ancient[49] and consolidated by use[50].

The generic  attribute drevjannoe[51] (often found in the pleofonic variant, derevjannoe) denotes the vegetable origin occurring since the earliest evidences in order to disambiguate  respect to other types of fat (krav’e, the animal one), namely butter[52].

Further information concerns the process of obtaining oil, which could be ‘squeezed’ (žžatoe) thanks to a press or distillated (peregonnoe). Other attributes also mark the geographical origin: Dal’ enumerates among the olive oils, the Provencal one (provanskoe maslo), considered the best, as precious as the Asiatic sesame oil (kunžutnoe) [53]. Of common use in Russia, however, were other vegetable oils, such as mustard (gorčičnoe), hemp (konopljanoe); the most recurring ones, for widespread cultivation of this plant, were linen (l’njanoe), poppy (makovoe), but also nuts (orechovoe). In the list, the ethnographer adds the russian oils, sunflower seeds (podsolnečnoe) and rape (surepnoe), or oil extracted from the agaricus (common champignon, ryžikovoe)[54]. There was also a very light oil, that of hemp, for example, commonly known as postnoe maslo: the attribute here does not indicate an intrinsic property of the oil but its function: the Domostroj recommends to fry pancakes in this oil, in case you want to observe fasting[55]. The data is confirmed in the nineteenth century when Dal ‘records it as a’ thin ‘oil for excellence[56], whose seeds, unsuitable for the table, were given to the geese assuming, for this reason, the name of masljata[57]. In the Dictionary of the Academy (1789-1794) under postnoe maslo it is more commonly said ‘seed oil’[58]. Vegetable oil – as already stated – was essential to the domestic economy[59] and in centuries echoed the exhortations to get and preserve it[60]: Kirill Beolozerskij (1450-1455) orders its purchase by listing it among the material needs of the brethren[61]  and the first Russian treatise on domestic economy invites to make provisions[62].

Between the lines of an agreement signed by Novgorod and the Anseatic League in 1270, it was recorded  oil and bread  as  means of payment[63], and again, as a true payment, oil (but also butter) [64] was a tribute (obrok) made by farmers to the monasteries, as mentioned in the pilgrimage of Vasili Poznjakov in the XVI century[65].

The oil, however, could have also a mineral origin (kamennoe maslo): Giuseppe Flavio’s History of Judaism (15th century) indicates the use, for healing purposes, of a kind of oily substance originating from the hot springs of a lake[66]; in the middle of the seventeenth century another testimony still refers to a substance always obtained from the lake bottom, oily – to the eye and the touch – used for therapeutic purposes for some unspecified deseases[67] and so it reappears in 1649[68].. It is also attested maslo kuporosnoe, that is vitriol oil (or vitriol spirit), as it was called the sulfuric acid obtained from the distillation of minerals[69]. In the Dictionary of Natural History, we find the voices kamennoe maslo, zemljanoe maslo as well, that is bitumen derived from the oil[70] mentioned also by Dal’ among the waste products of this mixture[71]. Related to the vegetable and mineral origin of the substance, the lemma extended the meaning of oil to the iconographic world and, by metonymy, went to indicate the material with which they used to paint[72], and the technique itself «pisat na masle» [73], meaning still preserved nowadays[74].

Attested since XII-XIII centuries as healing oil[75], we find it in treatises and books of sixteenth-century formulas against the hernia («ot gryžy»), for clutches, but also for drinking[76]. Avvakum protopop also resorted to oil when her children had suffered from this disease[77]. Against the bite of dogs with rabies, an oil was obtained from an insect, the meloe scarabeus[78], called vulgarly with the name masljanka[79]. The folk medicine compendium[80] of the 17th century or the descriptions of pharmaceutical drugs distinguished maslo kirpičnoe, a fine oily made with finely chopped bricks[81], and terpetinnoe maslo, turpentine[82],  as well as that made of amber powder for animal diseases[83]. It is curious, moreover, the beliefs in oil as an effective means to appease stormy waves[84].

Another oil used in the pharmacopoeia was the essential one (efirnoe maslo): the attribute, from the Greek αἰθήρ (‘air’), indicated the ‘ethereal’ nature obtained by distillation of plants or seeds[85], and hence also called peregonnoe, as witnessed by eighteenth-century lexicographic sources; Dal’ attests the slavonic form letučija masla, precisely because volatile, less dense essences, a middle way between «oil and spirit»[86]; Various essences have been documented, that of absinthe (polynnoe maslo), resin (mastikovoe), anise (anisnoe) or liquorice (koričnoe), carnation (gvozdičnoe)[87]. The consequences of the secular therapeutic practice have conveyed the lemma to the meaning of curative ointment: in this sense maslo activates a semantic relation of synonymy with maz’: the common trait between the two lemmas seems to concern not only the fatty and spreadable nature of the substance[88], feature which is preserved over time[89], but also  concerns its ‘telic’ and healing role[90].

In the eighteenth century several sources report attributes which specify, besides the different provenanace (l’njanoe, slivočnoe), the different origin (geographical or general): gornoe (‘mountain’), gollandskoe (‘dutch’)[91].

At the same time, in botany, maslo appears in sentences expressing a relationship that refers to its appearance, maslo krasnoe[92], or to an ‘agentive’ role, as in maslo voron’e[93], the popular name of stone-crop (zajačja kapustka), of which probably crows (vorony) were very fond. Thanks to Dal’ we come to know that maslo was used in the popular nomenclature of other plants: maslo / maslenok / masljanka for the Lilium martogon, or zemljanoe m. for Phallus impudicus[94].

On the other hand, behind the semantic value of maslo as butter, another whole civilization of equally ancient origin is outlined: in the Sacred Scriptures it seems to be clear that the Jews already knew the preparation of butter, and also the Scythians, along Danube and Don, had developed the art of butter production[95]. In this sense, maslo (butter) would have appeared later[96] and less frequently than the meaning of oil: it is often listed without attributes next to products of the same semantic sphere (syr, moloko, smetana): in Russkaja Pravda is attested immediately after cheese[97] or, again, towads the end of the fifteenth century[98]. The occurrence grows significantly in the sources of the 16th and 17th centuries[99]. In the last quarter of the eighteenth century the lemma maslo (korov’e ‘), which appears immediately after the meaning of oil, is defined as «žirnaja čast iz korov’eva moloka otdelennaja». The attribute, besides indicating its animal origin (in variants with / without polnoglasie, korove / korovoe- krav’e), denotes that butter in Russia was predominantly[100] made of cow milk. The most assiduous occurrence of the lemma in the form of the singular genitive is recorded in the ‘border books’ of customs and duties, in the prices of Russian retail goods[101] and it meant that the butter, together with wax, honey, hops, was a trade object, also because of the possibility of better conservation in cold climates; it appears next to money units[102]‘or of weight units[103]: in a trade dating 1608, we come to know that the price of a pud’’ of butter (about 16 kg) was 20 altyn, five times higher than a pud’’ of salt (4 altyn)’, while the cheapest hemp oil cost only 10 altyn for a ‘bucket’ (about 12 liters)[104].

Pliny the Elder in Naturalis Historia (Book XXVIII), after describing the processes of butter production in the northern regions of Europe, had indicated it not only as a refined seasoning of barbarian peoples but also as a food product separating the rich from the poor: butter, as a matter of fact, was consumed by the élites. Perhaps, this hypothesis can be considered valid also for Russia, if someone looks at the contexts of occurrences: as mentioned above the term appears in the court supply lists, in the spending books of monasteries[105] of metropolitans, boyards, merchants, among the products to be kept next to salt, flour, and honey.

It is also mentioned in documents specifying the food diet to be kept in religious feast and in fasting times: the obligations imposed by the liturgical calendar forced the Christians of these places to replace the animal fat with vegetable oil, thus generating an alternation between the two types of fat: in Nikon’s account it is reiterated that, if Christmas or Epiphany had fallen on Wednesday or Friday, the bishop would allow not only meat to be eaten, but also milk and butter (maslo kravie), cheese  and eggs, while on some of holy days it was allowed only oil (maslo drevjanoe) [106]. Among the feasts ‘constrained’ by food restrictions we also remember the carnival, maslenica. The week was also called maslenaja nedelja[107], nedelja maslenaja or syropustnaja, or again, maslopustnaja[108]. In the old russian chronicles, the term,  clearly of nominal derivation, is attested as a simple temporal reference (sometimes with the indication of the month)[109]. It was the carnival week when meat was banned but, unlike the Latin tradition according to which the meat could still be eaten (carne vale), other fats of animal origin, such as butter (maslo) and cheese, were allowed before the great Fast[110]. The same form, maslenica, in the eighteenth century, also meant a sort of cake eaten just in the carnival week[111].

Produced throughout the year and ‘more durable’ in cold climates[112], butter, however, posed the problem of the long storage of the fresh product: peasants, therefore, used to melt butter in ovens, then wash it and again melt it. In this process the butter was separated into two parts: the fat remained high, while below laid the lower part of the protein (pachtan’e). By doing so, a new, more concentrated and less deteriorating substance was obtained, butter ‘clarified’, toplenoe maslo[113] (melted butter), similar to oil for consistency and color, which was poured and allowed to cool as long as it solidified. Russia was a great consumer of toplenoe m.[114], to the point that it was also called ‘russian butter’ (russkoe maslo) and destined mainly to domestic consumption and, in part, to the export[115]. The best butter clarified, according to Dal’, was the one obtained from cream (slivočnoe), but there was also the butter obtained from sour cream (smetana), called čuhonskoe [116], whose transformation is described with lots of details[117]. The attributes accompanying are largely deverbative and indicate both the process of transformation of the raw material (toplenoe < topit ‘) and its use (goreloe <gorit’): richer in lipids (the aqueous part evaporated), clarified butter was very suitable for frying (goreloe maslo) because it was more stable at higher temperatures[118].

Through lexical elements, names and verbs used in the production of oil and butter, it is possible to attempt to recompose the processing, the anonymous actors and the unknown places of this chain. From the lexicographic sources, the polysemic value of maslo in some lemmas shows a ‘complementary’ ambiguity[119] depending on the contexts and elements with which they form the sentence. One of the high polysemic verbs is bit‘ (beat, squeeze) to indicate the oil processing, as Dal ‘says: the seeds are beaten, sometimes toasted and put under a press[120], the same verb is also used for butter, which is beaten, «b’jut maslo i pachtajut» (pachtanoe maslo), then heated and mixed.

The lexicon of butter processing, richer and more developed, makes us think of a more advanced and articulated production[121], organized in different phases: the person taking care of salting but also storing the butter was maslosol / maslosol’ka, in an environment called maslosol’nja, while the maslotop had the task of heating and packing the butter (in a place named maslotopnja), while maslomjatnja or maslomojka was the place where they used to wash and cut  the butter. Finally, the trade of these products was designated by the verb masljaničat ‘, which came out of use: at the end of the chain, in fact, there was someone  involved in the transport and sale of oil and butter, masle (ja) nik[122], while the sale profession was of both male and female relevance (masloprodavec, masloprodavica) [123].

The lemma maslo in russian language covers two different conceptual segments, oil and butter: the semantic and linguistic plan has been the starting point for a partial reconstruction of the word and its ambiguities, its combinatorial behavior[124] and polysemic interpretation[125], embracing not only lexical information, but a more proper holistic and encyclopaedic knowledge. Finally, an attempt was made to consider the diachronic dimension of a single lexical element gathering butter and oil, two differents worlds, diets and ways of living, North and South of Europe confronting for many centuries.



Apresjan Y. D., Regular Polysemy, in “Linguistics”, 142 (1973), 5-32.

Avanesov R.I., Slovar’ drevnerusskogo jazyka (XI-XIV vv.),Russkij Jazyk, M. 1991,tt. IV, VII.

Avanesov R.I.– Barchudarov S.G.,Slovar’ russkogo jazyka XI-XVII vv., Nauka, M. 1978, vyp. 5.

Babaeva B. E., in V. Ju. Apresjan (red.), Jazykovaja kartina mira i sistemnaja Leksikografija, Jazyki slvjanskich kul’tur, M. 2006.

Berneker E., Slavisches etymologisches Wörterbuch, Winter, Heidelberg 1914, 23.

Caramia G. et al., Il latte e il Burro. Dal neolitico agli attuali aspetti nutrizionali. “Ped, Med. Chir.”, 2012, 266- 282.

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Černych P. Ja., Istoriko-etimologičeskij slovar’ sovremennogo russkogo jayzka, Russkij Jazyk, M. 1993, t. I , 513.

Dal’ V., Tolkovyj Slovar’ živago velikoruskago jazyka Izd. Tip. M.O. Volfa, S.Pb,-M. 1881, tt.I, II.

Daškova E.R., Slovar’ Akademii Rossijskoj 1789-1794,  M. 2004, tt. II, IV.

Derksen R., Etymological Dictionary of the Slavic Inherited Lexicon, Leiden 2008, 365.

D’jačenko G., Polnyj Cerkovno.slavjanskij slovar’, Otčij dom, Moskva 2004, 172.

Efremova T. F., Novyj slovar’ russkogo jayzka. Tolkovo-slovoobrayovatel’nyj, Russkij Jayzk, M. 2000.

Fasmer M., Etimologičeskij slovar’ russkogo jazyka, M. 2004, t. 2, 578.

Kuznecov S. A., Sovremennyj tolkovyj slovar’ russkogo jazyka, Spb 2001, Norint, 336.

Meillet A., Études sur l’Etymologie & le Vocabulaire du vieux slave, E. Bouillon ed., Paris 1905, II.

Samojlov K. I., Morskoj slovar’ v 2 tomach, Gosudarstvennoe voenno-morskoe izd., M. -Leningrad 1941.

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Sreznevskij I.I., Slovar’ drevnerusskog jayzka, Kniga, M. 1989, t.II, č 1.

Šmelev I.S.– Bogatova G. A.  (red.), Slovar’ russkogo jazyka XI-XVII vv., Nauka, M. 1982, vypp. 5, 9.

Tverdochleb G. V., Šemjakin V.O., Sažinov G. Ju., Nikiforov P. V., Vologodskoe Maslodelie: Istorija razvitija, SPb 2002.

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[1] Sorokin 2001: 12, 80.

[2] Berneker 1914: 23.

[3] Fasmer 2004: t. 2, 578.

[4] It is also  interesting to pay attention to the german languages and to the semantic of the root smër, (see Gothic smarna, ‘dirt, excrement’) from which derived Gothic *smaír-þr, neuter Middle High German smër, Old High German smëro, ‘fat, fatness,’ Dutch smeer, ‘fat, grease, tallow,’ Anglo-Saxon smeoro, English smear, Old Icelandic smjǫr, ‘butter’, Kluge 2002: 814.

[5] Derksen  2008: 365.

[6] Meillet  1905: II, 414.

[7] Černych 1993: I, 513.

[8] Kuznecov 2001: 336.

[9]Efremova  2000 <URL:>   (last access 25.05.2019).

[10] Used from ancient times in the rituals of adoration of the sun, olive oil was always linked to the cult and symbology of the Sacred Texts, a sign of the presence and divine force (Ez 16: 9), a symbol of the light of faith Mt 25: 1-13) and of the Holy Spirit; The same olive tree is likened to the Christian life itself (Letter to Romans. 11:17).

[11] Cejtlin 1999: 323.

[12] Sreznevskij 1989: II, 1,114.

[13] In the modern russian language, maslina designates both the olive tree and the fruit (Kuznecov 2001: 336), while in ancient russian used to mean the fruit (Sreznevskij 1989: II, 1, 114).

[14] According to the terminology of Apresjan 1973: 5-32.

[15] Sreznevskij 1989: II, 1, 113.

[16] Avanesov 1991: VII, 509.

[17] Ibidem. See also Šmelev – Bogatova 1982: IX, 35.

[18] Fasmer 2004: II, 14.

[19] There is also a phonomorphological variant, ant. rus. olej, psl. elej, with the same meaning, olive oil. This would be phonetically and geographically derived from the West, from lat. oleum through polish language (Fasmer 2004: III, 134). The term, in the same semantic value, is still in use in the eighteenth century (Sorokin 2001: 12, 265).

[20] Šmelev – Bogatova, 1982:  IX, 44.

[21] Sreznevskij 1989: I. 2, 820.

[22] For the Sacred Scriptures, reference was made to ecclesiastical Slavic text in the electronic form available at <> (last access 20.06.2019).

[23] Maslo has the value of butter in some passages from Genesis, enumerated after milk (Gen. 18: 8), in the Deuteronomy is accompanied by the attribute that specifies its origin (Deut:  32:14). The Proverbs refer to the way Jews extracted the butter (Prov. 30:33). It also speaks of curdled milk (Judges 5:25, 29: 6).

[24] It translates the jewish  ( ), olive oil, which recurs 192 times; In the biblical text, however, there is another name (21 occurrences), ( ( ), namely the freshly squeezed oil, N.P. Stepanov, Encyclopedia of Russian Civilizations, <> (last access: 04.05.2019).

[25] See also Gen. 27: 20; 29: 23, <https: / / /?> (last access 12.04.2019).

[26] Is.1: 6, ibidem.

[27] Avanesov- Barhudarov 1978: V, 44.

[28] See also Gen. 25:26; Ex. 29: 7.

[29] Ez:16:19; in this semantic sphere already in the texts of the Canon prevail co-occurrences synonymous (Luk. 10: 34). See. also olej in: Cejtlin 1999: 323.

[30] Olive oil, in particular, was replaced by sesame in Armenian orthodox tradition, while stirring up the banquets of the Byzantine church. In the Russian liturgy, sunflower oil is used only as an exceptional event, when there’s no olive oil (Stepanov, Encyclopedia of Russian Civilizations, 10694> (last access 09.05.2019).

[31] In the orthodox rite, immediately after baptism, the anointing with myrrh (miropomazanie) is the second sacrament through which the gifts of the Holy Spirit are granted. The same name is also given to the action taking place during the incarnation of the Tsar and Emperors (see below).
Five and even more were the substances of the compound of this holy oil, the compound was heated on fire and could also be used to bless the bishop’s palace (skinija) and the clergy’s dwellings, D’jačenko 2004: 172.

[32] Avanesov- Barhudarov, 1978: 36. In the blessing of oil for extreme unction, we find the expression ‘eleem’ ‘osvjaščat’sja (to bless with the crisma) and, in parallel, soborvat’sja maslom (soborvat’- call together), derived from the habit of calling the Presbyter to perform the rite (Djačenko 2004: 172, Sorokin  2001: 12, 80, 35).

[33] The use of oil (elej) as edible oil was strictly regulated by the ecclesiastical Regulation  (Stepanov, <> (last access 29.05.2019). The Academy Dictionary under the word elej indicates both holy oil and oil just squeezed form olives (Daškova 2002: IV, 950).

[34] Žitie Kirilla Belozerskogo (1450-1455), NKRJA.

[35] The myrrh was introduced in Rus’ at the time of the baptism (X century). Thirty were the substances used for the Russian blend (in the Greek Church were at least fifty). The process for obtaining the compound was called mirovarenie and could only take place in the Monastery of the Caves of Kiev and in the Patriarch’s Palace in the Kremlin in Moscow.The mhyrr used for the coronation of the Tsar was kept in special containers in the sacristy of the Uspensky Sobor in Moscow (Stepanov, <> (last access 03.06.2019).

[36]  Moskovskij letopisec (1635-1645), NKRJa.

[37] Postnikovskij letopisec (1560-1570), NKRJA.

[38] Povest o žitii carja Fedora Ivanoviča (1598-1605), NKRJa.

[39] See the ecclesiastical and Synodic slavic translations, where elej is replaced by miro and miro by mast‘, «i sotvoriši sej elej pomazanie svjatoe, miro pomazatel’noe chudožestvom’ ‘mirovarca: elej pomazanie svjatoe budet”» (Ex., 30: 25) or, again, Exodus (30: 3), where elej and miro are semantically equivalent, «i synom” Izrailevym” da rečeši, glagolja: elej mast’ pomazanija svjat” da budet” sej vam” v” rody vašja»/«A synam izrailevym skaži: eto budet u menja miro svaščennogo pomazanija v rody vaši», in <> (last access 20.05.2019).

[40] cfr. miro in: Cejtlin 1999: 766.

[41] «[…] česo radi chryzma is sold byst» (Sal. 132, 2), <>; see also Sal 62.6; Evch 2a 22-23, ibidem. While the Greek loan remains related to the sacred tradition, the slavic term already appears in ancient russian language more productive in other contexts and with more meanings, translating the Greek χρῖσμα in the sense of ‘ointment’ (Žitie Andreja Jurodivogo, NKRJa), see also Avanesov 1991: IV, 511.

[42] Sreznevskij 1989: II,1, 116.

[43]Tolkovanie simvoličeskogo značenija svjatitel’skoj […], 1300-1450, NKRJa.

[44] Babaeva 2006: 765.

[45]Putešestvie stolnika P. A. Tolstogo […] (1697-1699)], NKRJa..

[46] «[…] i pomazasja svjatym ‘masl”m’ ot svjatago Nikola kandila, i izleže iz nego demon ” i iscele […]»”Čudesa Nikoly […], NKRJa. Here a daemoniac is healed thanks to the holy oil of St. Nicholas’ lamp (end of XII century), the same value is reported in the life of Cyrill from Novoezerskij. See also the attribute of mast, ‘nebesnaja’ (celestial, divine), creating  a similar syntagm meaning chrysma, ‘holy oil’, «mazati mastiju nebesnoju (chrisma percipere (Sreznevskij 1989: II, 1, 116).

[47] Novgorodskaja Karamzinskaja letopis’. Pervaja vyborka (1400-1450), NKRJa.

[48] The origin of the combination is very ancient and seems to date to the various editions of Adam and Eve’s life, in which Adam sends Eve to ask God for the oil of charity or the tree of charity healing all the diseases (Vita Adamii et Evae: 9.4; 13.1-4., in: Tkačenko 2013: 18, 292 <> (last access 07.06. 2019).

[49] In the 16th century Andrej Kurbskij writes «mirom radovanija i eleem miloserdija». In parallel with another common combination, elej radosti, oiginating from the Holy Scriptures (Ps. 44: 8), (Is.61): <> (last access 05.06.2019).

[50] Andrej Kurbskij, Pervoe poslanie Kuz’me Mamonić (1564-1583), NKRJa.

[51] Sreznevskij 1989: II, 1, 113.

[52]  With a temporal leap of a few centuries it is possible to verify that, in the last quarter of XVIII century, the first meaning of oil was of a substance of vegetable origin, liquid, fat, non-mixable with water, burning both for heating and for lighting (Daškova 2002: IV, 50).

[53] Dal’ 1881: II, 302.

[54] Ibidem.

[55] Domostroj (1500-1560), NKRJa.

[56] Dal’ 1881: II, 302.

[57] Ibid. 303.

[58] Daškova 2002: IV, 50.

[59] Putešestvie stolennik P.A.Tol’stogo po Evrope (1697-1699), NKRJa.

[60] Domostroj (1500-1560), NKRJa..

[61] Žitie Kirilla Beloozerskogo (1450-1455), NKRJa.

[62] Domostroj <> (last access 22.03.2019).

[63] Berežkov 1879 <> (last access  12.04.2019). and again, Stefan of Novgorod finds oil among the offerings of the faithfuls (Choždenie Stefana Novgorodca 1348-1349), NKRJa.

[64] Žalovannaja Ustavnaja gramota p. Iova ig. Novinskogo monastyrja Varsonof’ju s opredeleniem povinnostej dlja m-skich krest’jan (1590.02.05), NKRJa.

[65] Choždenie na Vostok gostja Vasilija Poznakova (1561-1570), NKRJa.

[66] Istorija Iudejskoj vojny Iosifa Flavija, (1260 – XV sec.), NKRJa.

[67] Šmelev – Bogatova 1982: IX, 35.

[68] Ibidem.

[69] Ibidem.

[70] Sorokin 2001: 12, 80.

[71] Dal’ 1881: II, 302.

[72] Šmelev-  Bogatova 1982: IX, 35.

[73] Sorokin 2001: 12, 80.

[74] Ušakov 1994: II, 153; see also Ožegov 1988: 275.

[75] Avanesov 1991: IV, 509.

[76] Zagovor ot gryži, (1625-1650), NKRJa.

[77] Žitie protopopa Avvakuma, im samim napisannoe (1672-1675), NKRJa.

[78] Daškova 2002: IV, 54-55.

[79] In the seventeenth century the same form is attested in another meaning, the serum of milk, Šmelev – Bogatova 1982: IX, 36, but also as the container for oil / butter (ibid.), The derivative, in that sense, maintains its semantic ambiguity even in the 18th century: «kubyška maslenaja, masljanka, pear maslinaja, or oleinaja» (Sorokin 2001: II, 80-81).

[80] The lečebniki, also called travniki, were popular handbooks but also compendiums of heterogeneous material, formulas, prayers, thoughts and teachings, episodes of history. The sources were many, probably Byzantine at the beginning, from the 16th century they came also from West, Brokgauz – Efron, 1890-1907, <http: // Nsf / brokgauz_efron / 102258> (last access 13.04.2019).

[81] Šmelev – Bogatova 1982: IX 35.

[82] Ibidem.

[83] Ibidem. On the renown properties of amber oil against animal diseases, also wrote A. Tolstoj on his trip to Europe.

[84] Samojlov 1941 < < % D0% A1% D0% 9B% D0% 9> (last access 13.04.2019).

[85] Sorokin 2001:  XII, 80.

[86] Dal’ 1881: II, 302.

[87] Šmelev – Bogatova: IX, 35.

[88] Avanesov 1991: IV, 491.

[89] Maz‘ is still defined in the eighteenth century as a mixture: «iz’ žirnych veščestv ” sostojaščee smešenie, upotrebljaemoe dlja naružnogo lečenija» (Daškova 2002: V, 133).

[90] Ibidem.

[91] Sorokin 2001: 12, 80.

[92]Today for maslo krasnoe is meant «nerafinirovannoe, nedezorirovannoe krasnoe pal’movoe maslo iz mjakoti plodov», <> (last access 21.05.2019).

[93] Ibidem.

[94]  Dal’ 1881: t. II, 302.

[95] According to some sources, butter would originate in northern regions also in relation to the butter processing, which requires a temperature of around 15° C, more easily reachable in less warmer regions, Caramia 2012: 268.

[96] Černych 1993: I, 513.

[97] Šmelev – Bogatova 1982: IX, 34.

[98] Ibidem.

[99] Sotnaja Gramota pisel’cov Vassilija Ivanoviča Brechova, Ivana Grigor’eviča Golovina […] (1543-1544) in NKRJa.

[100] The animal lipid component, more rarely, could also refer to fish, ‘rybii žir’, whale (‘kitovoe m.’), For example, in a testimony of the seventeenth century «masla derevjannogo i korov’ja tam net”, odno maslo rib’e, to est’ zir ‘kitov», Šmelev – Bogatova 1982: IX, 35.

[101] Tamožennye knigi melkich sborov, 1627), NKRJa.

[102] Otrivok iz rashodnog kniga Nižegorodskogo Blagoveščenskogo monastyrja (1603-1604), NKRJa.

[103] Tamožennye knigi melkich sborov: pošliny s mjagchoj […] (1627), NKRJa.

[104] Opis i prodaža s publičnogo torga ostavšegosja imenija po ubienii narodom obvinennogo v iymene Michajly Tatiščeva vo 116 godu (1608), NKRJa.

[105] Raschodnaja kniga Dorogobyžskogo Boldinskogo Svyat-Troickogo monastery (1585-1586), NKRJa.

[106] Nikonskaja Letopis’ (859-1176), NKRJa.

[107] Sreznevskij 1989: II, 1,114.

[108] Maslopust is referred in particular to the last day when the meat was allowed (D’jačenko 2004: 289) «Latinjane, v” pervuju nedelju posta mjasapust” i maslopust” edinoju tvorjat, i potom, paky postjaščisja, v” subbotu i v” nedelju jasti jaica i syra i mleko» (Šmelev – Bogatova 1982: IX, 35).

[109] Suzdal’skaja Letopis’, NKRJa.

[110] Sreznevskij 1989: II, 1, 114.

[111] Daškova 12002:  IV, 51.

[112] Caramia et al. 2012: 268-269.

[113] The ancient technique was already known by the Arians in the fourth millennium B.C., ibid., 268.

[114] Šmelev – Bogatova 1982:  IX, 34.

[115] Intended mainly for the domestic market, ‘russian butter’ was also exported to less demanding markets, the southern harbors of Balkan or Asian countries (Turkey): the price was lower than the normal butter, so that export was often not convenient, Tverdochleb, Šemjakin, Sažinov,  Nikiforov 2002, available in:> (last access 23.03.2019).

[116] The adjective is an ethnonym and refers to the areas of origin of this type of butter and to those who made it: čuhoncy, a group of far-Baltic people who lived in the territories of Novgorod, particularly known for its chefs. It is not to be excluded that in these lands of the North, where butter production was secular, the processing techniques were quite refined. <Http://> (last access 26.05.2019).

[117] Dal’ 1881: II, 302.

[118] Šmelev – Bogatova 1982: IX, 34.

[119] On the distinction between ambiguity and polysemy see also A. Zaliznjak, <> (last access 13.06.2019).

[120] Dal’  1881: II, 302.

[121] The industrial processing of dairy products in Russia rose towards the end of the eighteenth century, with the first Swiss dairy farm in the province of Tver ‘. Others appeared in the thirties of the nineteenth century, especially in the private estate of the governors of Tver ‘and Vologda, Yaroslavl’, Smolensk. However, until the 1890s the activity developed slowly: the techniques were still primitive and the milk was beaten by hand, sometimes with the help of horses. N. V. Vereščagin, the elder brother of the painter Vasilij, was a pioneer in this field and made a fundamental contribution to the development of dairy industry using milk of russian breed cows. After a period spent abroad, in the 1890s he started making cheese and butter on the example of Swiss dairies. Thanks to the introduction of the separators, which accelerated processing and production. Tverdochleb, Šemjakin, Sažinov, Nikiforov 2002: <> (last access 23.05.2019).

[122] Dal’ 1881: II, 303.

[123] Ibidem.

[124] Ibid.: 766.

[125] Babaeva 2006: 843.