"I'm just going to write because I can't help it."- Charlotte Brontë

Friday, December 6, 2013

Kids Will Be Kids


I love it when archaeology gives us a glimpse into the everyday lives of past peoples and show us that some things just never change, thank goodness.

In the 1950s archaeologists made a great discovery near the city of Novgorod, Russia: they dug up hundreds of pieces of birch bark with all sorts of texts written on them. The 915 items are mostly letters, notes and receipts, all written between the 11th and 15th century

In the 13th century, young schoolboys learning to write filled these scraps with alphabets and short texts. Bark was ideal material for writing down things with such a short half-life. Then the pupils got bored and started to doodle, as kids do...

http://erikkwakkel.tumblr.com/post/67681966023/medieval-kids-doodles-on-birch-bark-heres
One of these doodling kids was a certain Onfim, who had dramatic daydreams indeed. You can read more about his artwork here: http://www.goldschp.net/SIG/onfim/onfim.html 

Onfim was being taught to write, but he was obviously restless with his lessons and when he could get away with it, he intermixed his assignments with doodlings. In this first example, he started to write out the first eleven letters of the alphabet in the upper right corner, but got bored and drew a picture of himself as a grown-up warrior impaling an enemy with his spear. To remove any doubt about the identity of the warrior, he even labelled the person on the horse as "Onfim."

I especially like the doodle with Onfim as a mini-warrior with his warrior Dad:


 Ah, kids. Give them a stick of chalk or a piece of bark...

2 comments:

parlance said...

I love this!

Gitte Christensen said...


Me too! Someone should do a book on children's doodles throughout the ages.