Lipovans or Lippovans (Russian: Липовáне, Romanian: Lipoveni, Ukrainian: Липовани, Bulgarian: липованци) are Old Believers, mostly of Russian ethnic origin, who settled in the Moldavian Principality, and in the regions of Dobruja and Eastern Muntenia. According to the Romanian census of 2002, there are a total of 35,791 Lipovans in Romania, of whom 21,623 live in Dobruja.


The accepted etymology is that it is derived from the name of Nikita Pustosvyat (1672–1742), leader of the group of dissenters who emigrated to what is now Romania; its members were referred to as Filippoveni, abbreviated to Lipoveni.[1] Other suggestions include relations to the Slavic word Липа, lipa, meaning "linden tree", or to "Filippovka", a holiday name dedicated to Saint Philip.


The Lipovans emigrated from Russia in the 18th century, as dissenters from the main Russian Orthodox Church. They settled along the Prut River in Moldavia and in the Danube Delta. They have maintained strong religious traditions which predate the reforms of the Russian Orthodox Church undertaken during the rule of Patriarch Nikon. When the Patriarch made changes to worship in 1652, some believers carried on worshipping in the "old way". In that sense, they continued to speak Old Russian, to cross themselves with two fingers instead of three, and to keep their beards. The Russian government and the Orthodox Church persecuted them, and as a result some committed suicide by burning themselves (self-burning: soshigateli),[2] with many other being forced to emigrate.

In 1876, the Lipovans were joined by members of the Skoptsy sect, who also emigrated to Romania to escape persecution.

Lipovans were considered to be schismatic by the Russian Orthodox Church, although relations have improved recently. (See main article on Old Believers.)


The main centre of Lipovan community in Ukraine is the town of Vylkove, which has its own church, St Nicholas. In order to construct their homes, the Lipovans create islets of dry land by digging mud out from trenches and making a series of canals. The house walls are made of reed and mud,[3][4] and thatching is standard for the roofing. Because of the characteristics of these materials, the buildings have a tendency to sink into the mud and need to be rebuilt every few years.

The population is popularly known as having red hair.[5]

For details on the Lipovans in Bulgaria, see Russians in Bulgaria.

See also


  1. Victor Vascenco, "Melchisedec şi lipovenii" Archived 2009-08-24 at the Wayback Machine., Romanoslavica (University of Bucharest), XLII, p. 133
  2. Coleman, Loren (2004). The Copycat Effect: How the Media and Popular Culture Trigger the Mayhem in Tomorrow's Headlines. New York: Paraview Pocket-Simon and Schuster. p. 46. ISBN 0-7434-8223-9.
  3. "Water world". The Independent. London. 2005-06-18. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
  4. "The Danube". Archived from the original on 2006-05-04.
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