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1000 year old Drawings by Onfim the school boy

1000 year old Drawings by Onfim the school boy.

Onfim The Schoolboy drawings
Various Drawings

A thousand years ago a small boy would draw the images that filled his imagination on pieces of birch bark.

Amazingly, Onfim’s drawings have survived in the soil, waiting to be discovered. Allowing us an opportunity to see inside the mind of a 6 year old boy. Who in his own way has traveled a thousand years into the future.

The Drawings and homework of Onfim the school boy

Onfim was a small boy who lived in present-day Russia in the 13th century, some time around 1220 or 1260.

Birch-bark letter no. 202: spelling lessons and drawings. Deep Fried Wikipedia #2 The Drawings by Onfim.
(Item 202) Spelling lessons and drawings.

He left his notes and homework exercises scratched in soft birch bark which was preserved in the clay soil.

Onfim, who was most likely six or seven years old at the time, wrote in the Old Novgorodian dialect of Old East Slavic.

Besides letters and syllables, he drew “battle scenes and drawings of himself and his teacher“.

206: "Now when the sixth hour", a series of syllables, and portraits. Deep Fried Wikipedia #2 The Drawings by Onfim.
(Item 206) “Now when the sixth hour”, a series of syllables, and portraits.

I am particularly fond of the way Onfim drew the necks, bodies, legs and feet of humans as one solid line. It brings a uniqueness to his drawings and I get a feel for the small boy sitting down to draw these figures nearly 1000 years ago.

Onfim left seventeen known birch bark items. Twelve of those have illustrations, five only text.

One of the drawings features a knight on a horse stabbing someone on the ground with a lance, with scholars speculating that Onfim pictured himself as the knight.


The writings are clearly learning exercises: Onfim practiced by writing out the alphabet, repeating syllables, and writing psalms—texts that were presumably familiar to him.

His writing includes phrases such as “Lord, help your servant Onfim” and fragments from Psalms 6:2 and 27:3.

Deep Fried Wikipedia - 1000 year old Drawings by Onfim the school boy.
(Item 199) Onfim’s homework exercises and “I am a wild beast”, c. 1260.

Onfim’s illustrations include pictures of knights, horses, arrows, and slain enemies. One image, “a portrait of himself, disguised as a fantastic animal”, is found on item 199 which was originally the bottom of a basket made of birch bark, which contains a picture of a beast with a long neck, pointy ears, and a curly tail.

(Item 200) Horseman, with name "Onfim" to the rider's right, and above that the alphabet, A – K. Deep Fried Wikipedia - 1000 year old Drawings by Onfim the schoolboy.
(Item 200) Horseman, with name “Onfim” to the rider’s right, and above that the alphabet, A – K

The beast either has an arrow with feathers in its mouth or is spewing fire; one of the accompanying texts says “I am a wild beast” (the text in the box says “Greetings from Onfim to Danilo”, likely a friend or classmate of Onfim).

The number of fingers on the pictured people’s hands varies from three to eight; indicating Onfim had yet to learn how to count.

The rows of five letters each on the other side of 199 are an alphabet exercise. On item 205 (not pictured), Onfim wrote the Cyrillic Alphabet and added “On[f]”, for his name, in the middle; below that alphabet is what some researchers see as a boat with oars.

Item 206 contains alphabetic exercises and “‘portraits’ of little Onfim and his friends”.

Wikipedia Page on Onfims drawings

1000 year old Drawings by Onfim the school boy.

Thoughts?