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Hristofor Zhefarovich

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Title: Hristofor Zhefarovich  
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Subject: Coat of arms of Bulgaria, Bulgaria/Selected article, Bulgarian engravers, Serbian painters, Bulgarian painters
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Hristofor Zhefarovich

Pavle Nenadović's praise to Hristofor Zhefarovich in Stemmatographia: "To the well reputable gentleman Hristofor Zhefarovich, Illyro-Rascian [Serbian] universal icon-painter, zealot of Bulgarian fatherland, lover of Illyrian Empire"

Hristofor Zhefarovich (original Cyrillic: Христофоръ Жефаровичъ; Bulgarian: Христофор Жефарович, Hristofor Zhefarovich; Macedonian: Христофор Жефаровиќ, Hristofor Žefarović; Serbian: Христофор Жефаровић, Hristofor Žefarović) was an 18th-century painter, engraver, writer and poet and a notable proponent of Pan-Slavism.


  • Biography 1
  • Stemmatographia 2
  • Nationality and ethnicity 3
  • Gallery 4
  • Notes 5
  • External links 6


Born at the end of the 17th century, Zhefarovich descended from a priestly family from Dojran in Ottoman Empire, (present-day Republic of Macedonia) and became a monk himself. His parents were Dimitrije and Đurđica Žefarović. As a highly educated and well-learned itinerant monk he painted and traded with books, icons and church plate. He spent some time in the St. Naum Monastery in Ohrid. His name was first mentioned in 1734 in Belgrade, where he was well known as an artist. His first well-preserved work are the frescoes in the churches of the Bođani Monastery in Bačka (part of Vojvodina, today in Serbia) from 1737 and the Šikloš Monastery from 1739. He was exclusively engaged in copper engraving and book illustration after 1740. he engraved copperplatesfor his books, and printed them in the "etching-typographical workshop" of his collaborator Thomas Mesmer in Vienna. His engraving was of great cultura;-historical importance to the Baroque art of the time. His style of 'bright cut' engraving was thoroughly masterly and original, specializing in the higher branches -- engraving for printing -- of the engraver's art.

Zhefarovich made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem through Thessaloniki and Jaffa and later established himself in the Epiphany Monastery in Moscow, where he died on 18 September 1753. Zhefrovich was the author of two religious works, an instruction to newly appointed priests (Поучение святителское к новопоставленному йерею, Pouchenie svyatitelskoe k novopostavlennomu yereyu) from 1742 and a description of Jerusalem from 1748 (Описание светаго божия града Йерусалима, Opisanie svetago bozhiya grada Yerusalima). His name is also associated with two textbooks — a primer and a grammar book, as well as numerous copper gravures of renowned personalities from Vojvodina.

His work was acknowledged in Europe and he became an honorary member of the Imperial Academy in Vienna and the Royal Academy of Munich.

He died at Moscow on the 18th of September 1753.


Zhefarovich's work of greatest importance for the South Slavic Revival was his Stemmatographia published in Vienna in 1741. The book was commissioned by the Serbian Orthodox Metropolitan of Karlovci, Arsenije IV Jovanović Šakabenta, who also funded its production.[1] During its composition Zhefarovich used the Stemmatographia of Croatian Pavao Ritter Vitezović of 1701, who on his part used Kingdom of the Slavs by Mauro Orbini of 1601. Stemmatographia was illustrated by Zhefarovich with copperplate engravings and black and white drawings. It contains 20 copperplates depicting 28 Serbian and Bulgarian rulers and saints; 15 of them are Serbian princes, princesses, kings, and tsars (mostly of the Nemanjić dynasty), and 7 of them are Serbian archbishops and patriarchs.[2] Stemmatographia also contains 56 coats of arms of Slavic and other Balkan countries with descriptive quatrains under them, regarded as the first example of modern secular Bulgarian and Serbian poetry. Stemmatographia had a crucial influence on the Bulgarian National Revival and made a great impact on the entire Bulgarian heraldry of the 19th century, when it became most influential among all generations of Bulgarian enlighteners and revolutionaries during the period of national awakening of Bulgaria and shaped the idea for a modern Bulgarian national symbol.

The pattern of Bulgarian coat of arms of Stemmatographia was used as the state symbol of the royal Bulgarian administration in 1878, but set in an ermine mantle and with a prince's crown above it. This coat of arms continued to be used on the state seal and the seals of state institutions well after an official one (also influenced by the one in Stemmatographia) was introduced by the National Assembly. The coat of arms of the short-lived Ottoman province of Eastern Rumelia was also created after the coat of arms of Constantinople (called "coat of arms of Romania") in Zhefarovich's work.

Zhefarovich's coat of arms of Bulgaria is depicted on the reverse of the Bulgarian 2 levs banknote, issued in 1999 and 2005.[3]

Nationality and ethnicity

Hristofor Zhefarovich worked for the spiritual resurgence of the Bulgarian and Serbian people, as he considered them to be one and the same "Illyrian" (South Slavic) people. Pavle Nenadović, exarch of the Serbian Patriarch, had called him "Illyro-Rascian universal painter, zealot of the Bulgarian homeland and kinlover of the Illyrian Empire" ("иллирïко рассïанскому общему зографу, ревнителю отчества Болгарскагѡ и любителю царства Иллѵрïческагѡ"). Zhefarovich noted "our Serbian motherland" ("отечество сербско наше", otechestvo serbsko nashe) and signed as a "Illyro-Rascian universal painter" ("иллирïко рассïанскïи общïй зографъ", illirïko rassïanskïy obshtïy zograf). In his testament, he explicitly noted that his relatives were "of Bulgarian nationality" ("булгарской нации", bulgarskoy natsii) and from Dojran.[4][5] The ethnicity of Zhefarovich has been the subject of some dispute between the Bulgarian and Serbian historiography. Western scholars prefer to emphasize his contributions to the history of both peoples, and maintain that Zhefarovich belonged to both nations.[6] In the Republic of Macedonia, he is considered to belong to the modern Macedonian ethnic group.



  1. ^  
  2. ^ Žefarović, Hristofor; Mesmer, Toma (1972) [1741]. Dinko Davidov, ed. Stemmatographia (in Church Slavonic). Novi Sad:  
  3. ^ Bulgarian National Bank. Notes and Coins in Circulation: 2 levs (1999 issue) & 2 levs (2005 issue). – Retrieved on 26 March 2009.
  4. ^ „булгарской нации... въ православной архiепископiи Салонской въ городѣ Догрiанѣ братъ родной свящтеникъ и протчiя сродники“.
  5. ^ Bulgaria, R. J. Crampton, Oxford University Press, 2007, ISBN 0-19-820514-7,p. 30.
  6. ^ Hughes, Henry Stuart (1971). Teachers of history: essays in honor of  

External links

  • On-line version of The Stematographia
  • Works by or about Hristofor Zhefarovich in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
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