Russian Bear Fight
Custom to arrange fighting of a man with a bear was known in medieval Russia as a "bear fun". Such funs were represented on frescos of the Kiev-Sofia cathedral (1037). In old manuscript by Daniil Zatochnik the author, listing different sorts of funs wrote about fighting with wild animals. The plot of a fighting of person and bear is met on medieval Russian coins and seals.
Two variants of duels of an armed man with a bear practiced. In first of them a single combat was absolute, in other - a fighter if he was threatened with obvious danger, was insured by other hunters with pitchforks. In single combat of the unarmed man with a bear used with specially trained animals.
In Middle Ages in Russia bear fights was rather popular and became a steady tradition. Fights with bears were arranged in villages and towns, in small and big cities on market squares, at fairs and national holidays.
Bear fights when a man armed with a cold steel struggled with a wild bear were held as a show and fun down to the first decades of XIX century. Single combat of an armed person with a wild animal as a kind of mass show was stopped in Õ1Õ century.
Alongside with bear fight down to the end of 1920-s there was in many places a hunt for bear with very primitive weapon that was called rogatina - a wood pitchfork. Being business rather dangerous, such bear hunt was accompanied various superstitions, legends and histories. That is why there were so many volunteers who wanted to fight with bear for fun or for a certain compensation. It is necessary to take into account that for east Slavs a bear was one of the main characters in a number of tales about animals.
Collected and edited by Michael Terletski