Donavainan Emblem Donavania: its People and their History

From near its founding to the mid 1960s, the Donavainians has been an important part of the Chesley Donavan Foundations mythology.

"From the Twelfth Century to the Sixteenth, the ancient seat of power diminished in its sway in the Valley of the Danube; yet as the attention of the outside world grew less, their impression upon history would grow greater. For, without the desire to seek popular acceptance or to curry favor in the courts of burgeoning new empires, they only sought their higher ideals, and so earned favor of generations who would later realize their greatness."

- Very panegyrical; should instead emphasize the grotesque, eccentric, encrusted tradition, uncompromising, anachronistic . . . .


Where the Donavanians came from is unknown - and there are currently no identifiable Donavanians to do genetic testing on. The Donavanian language is basically Slavic, but of a wildly divergent form. It is said to include many ancient Egyptian words, but this is difficult to confirm, as the language hasn't been substantially translated.

The Donavan family claimed to be descended from Akhnaten, the heretic Pharaoh with his heretical worship of the Aten. There is no shred of evidence for this. There are stories about how this happened, but they are a bit fanciful, depending on a time-space warp extending from the Sinai to the Danube valley.

What is known is that they formed a small country, later called the Grand Duchy of Donavania, in the Danube Valley. The exact location is not currently known.

The total of our knowledge has come from two sources: the famous California Scrolls, of which three have been discovered, all bearing the same text, which is the first presented below, and a great batch of material consisting of letters, bound volumes, diaries and pictures collected from libraries in Germany and Czechoslovakia by the late Dr. Funfzig Beerstein of the Leipzig Library just after World War II, and retrieved by the Foundation in 1954.

The scrolls are in English. The remainder of the material is in Latin, English and (the greatest portion by far) a private language that has been named Donavanian.

It must be pointed out that Donavanian has not been deciphered. The Latin and English texts give many clues, and much has been accomplished, but only a small fraction of the Donavanian texts can be rendered with any assurance, and composition in Donavanian would be pure speculation at the present time.

It must be made clear that the texts presented here represent almost all that is known surely, except for what hints and hunches can be got from the fractional translations of the Donavanian texts, and widely circulated but totally unconfirmed rumors that a colony of Donavanians still lives secretly in Eastern Europe.

I.   The California Scrolls:

The first was discovered on September 30 1953, barely readable; the second was found late in 1954, and the third in Glendale California in 1958. The text below is collected from all three scrolls, which probably all had exactly the same text, although their varying states of preservation makes this speculative. Size: 14 by 17, 1/16 inch copper flashing, rolled and buried without protection in the earth.

I, Chesley Donavan, on the second day of February of 1822 do sit in this heathen land and write this in sight of possible death, and in determination that my work shall continue. Let those who read this who seek the true spirit of Man look in the arts - which are Music, Painting, Sculpture, Literature and Philosophy. Let those who fall faint in the work of life know that labor in the interests of creative art is ordained to consummate success because it is action parallel to the most fundamental law of human endeavor. Let you who read this know that he who writes this stands deceived, abandoned, homeless in a strange land, and unable to help those who are entrusted to him - yet the strength of this Truth does fill his empty body and warm his cold hands.

II.   Letter in Latin:

The following letter was written in Latin and copied over as an exercise in penmanship some time around 1775. When the original may have been written is not known. 17 x 36 inches on vellum.

I have been dying for several weeks now, we have all known. As I have departed more and more from health, you have to assume my responsibilities and duties, and now the time has come for you to take over completely. Immediately as you receive this, contact the Ikhnaton in the customary manner and have him arrange the ceremony. You will find the signed papers in the right hand bottom drawer of my office desk, under the false bottom. I know you will do what I would wish you to do, for I have come to know you well in our years together. We have discussed this moment many times, and now that it is here I know you will carry forward and embody my life after my body has died.

Many times we spoke of the pleasures of life, My Son. Perhaps you have thought of this; but it is difficult for the young to imagine a time when one looks forward with anguished dread to the next time one will be allowed to stand on one's own feet - because perhaps it will be the last, how one begs one's body to hold together long enough to enable the tasting of food just once more. The pains that wash me are old friends now as they prepare me for cremation. They may succeed in making me dread life, but I think they will not. For the memories I have of my rich life, of which you are a part, are much clearer to me now than ever.

Do not attempt to visit me again, my Son, for I have given orders against it. What you would see in this bed is something you should never see. I have ordered the musicians to play for me from behind a screen so they might not have to look at me. The servants will dispose of me when I have finished, and you must forget me, now. Remember that you cannot dishonor me by forgetting me, for you are my body and mind and will, and as they continue in you, so do I continue. remember that as you act, I act, and that nothing you could ever do would be displeasing to my memory, for it is my memory that created you, and my determination that you should be an individual has made you free to act, in my will, as you choose. Remember this well, for the world is full of idiots who will pry at you with sentiments and tell you otherwise.

The leaving of life is not something I do without longing, yet we both know my time is dead before me. The world changes fast, and as we fit ourselves to combat it, we measure our niche of life, and there lies our certain doom. The world of life is not one I know, but one that is foreign; it is your world to rule, to conquer, and thus to step off your finite space, and then depart. I look back to my pleasures in life and, except for the music which now fills this room, they are already dead. The memories of these moments serves no purpose, since I cannot relive them, and, firmly of the mind that I have lived correctly, that memory must now fare as certainly as its contents.

If you would speak to me more, play my music, gaze at my paintings, read my poetry. This is all of me that remains of value. I rest my life in my works, and only hope that others may come to seek it there, and thus grant that I should live again through them.

III.   News Clipping:

The following text exists as a printed news clipping mounted on a board. It appears from certain peculiar blemishes that it was used for some time as a dart board. Size: 8 x 9 inches on 12 x 12 inch board - metal eyelets in the upper corners.

The dear most revered and holy Chesley Donavan

Your highness . .

Respectfully, sir, I must remind you that this part of Donavania has always enjoyed a reputation for the beauty and quaintness of its countryside, particularly the beauty of its women. Tourists from far and wide in the world have come here and spent much money - which your grace has must rightfully and justly taxed for the general good - and thus made all rich and prosperous. The beauty of the Donavanian women of this region has, in fact, spread as far as the Americas, where stories and fables are told about their slim and comely figures and narrow and modeled faces.

But, your excellency, your recent land reform program and public works projects have raised the general income in this area from domestic sources, thus allowing the greater purchases of food by the general populace. Our local Donavanian women, whose beauty has to this moment been widely discussed abroad, are tending to fat. With their beautiful figures rounded out of shape, their faces rounded and flat, we all stand to lose our incomes and starve.

We, your most humble and tax-paying servants, whose livelihood is your livelihood, do most reverently and respectfully petition for the cessation and dissolution of all the projects above mentioned in this area so that the honor and beauty of Donavanian women will be preserved for the foreign born to envy.

IV.   Multi-Language Text:

This text was printed in Latin, Donavanian, English, Flemish, French, Rumanian and Japanese. It is one of the few parallel texts we have to use in the decipherment of Donavanian. Size: 12 x 197 inches - tack holes in the corners and at approximate 8 inch intervals along the edges.

Today your soldiers have occupied our country and assumed police power over our citizens. Today I have issued an order to all Donavanian Citizens to obey your soldiers as long as they are looking, to protect them as long as they are awake, to be respectful to them except when their backs are turned.

Any Donavanian work of art that is stolen or defaced shall bring you the heads of twenty of your men. Any Donavanian citizen mistreated shall bring you the heads of two of your men. Any Donavanian Citizen killed shall bring you the head of one of your commanding officers.

Do not, however trouble yourself to searching for our national Treasures, for such work would be fruitless. Do you think that Donavanians cannot conceal their grandest accomplishments so that buffoons cannot find them? Yet if you search you shall not find them because they are all around you - the crass fool can wade in beauty for the finding of it and yet see nothing.

This is not the way wise men speak to equals, but idiots know no other language. Donavania speaks all languages to all men. I do not worry at the slaughter of your men for the crimes of their fellows; any of your citizens who have the worth to be let live have not taken part in this brigandage, and are either at home engaged in such worthy works as your majesty will allow them, or have forsaken your land for ours.

So understand that we fear you but we will not give you anything. If you would take me, I shall be at home to receive you. But there is not one four year old child in the land whom you can torture into betraying us, for we are strong and united in the devotion to truth, and we know our lives will outlive you for all time.

V.   Epigrams:

The following epigrams are included (in English) in Donavanian letters, and are excerpted here.

There is only virtue - that of rectitude; only one sin - that of cowardice; and only one crime - that of waste. To be certain of the correctness of one's actions, to behave in absolute consistency to one's knowledge of right, that is virtue. To indulge one's cheap pleasures, pursue entertainment, shirk from one's ordained work, that is sin. To destroy what has value, that is crime.

The possession of objects is a trust - he who would possess without putting to worthy use is as bad as he who would take without paying. It does not matter how one withholds materials from he who would make good use of them - whether it is by fencing his land, putting his musical instruments into storage, hoarding his gold, preventing his children from marrying, or bending his strong arm to evil works. All are the same as thievery.

VI.   Undated Texts:

The first following text is on parchment with a dagger slit top center. Language is English. The second text is a letter on vellum in rich script, again in English. No idea of the time can be gathered, since the persons referred to are imprecisely named.

Editor's Note:   There is some confusion here as the page numbering is out of order and one document in the set is not numbered. We presume the misnumbered one is the one with the dagger slit. We are also including the unnumbered declaration of the Republic of Donavania as the second, though we are not certain of this placement. Like all the other documents, it is hand typed, apparently on the same typewriter, with the same margins, in the same format, and with the same style of xxxxxxxx corrections.


You, sir, who suggest that Donavania should go to arms against its neighbors, should repay insults with brigandage, should hoard its metals and stifle its domestic marketplace, should choke the cheers and cries of its citizens and leave the air silent for the water voices of obedient ritual - that Donavania should sell its glory to save its power - you, sir, have none of our warmth in your body.

Gladly would I give you the army and send you to South America just to get rid of you if it were not clear that you would as gladly use the army against me as against the Catholics.

As it is with men, so be it with nations - that life is so precious that to waste it in fear or sell it in bondage is the only crime. We shall, while we live, live perfectly, and you who say you are ready to die to serve our ramparts, remember as you do so that it will be for us who remain to rebuild them.


Donavania, Second day of February of 1794 (new style)

I Chesley Donavan (1755), viewing with alarm that dreadful business that began in the Americas and now seems to have taken firm root in France, do hereby proclaim to be:

      The Republic of Donavania.

Which Republic shall encompass the territory formerly occupied by the Grand Duchy of Donavania, with the exception of the ante-rooms of the High Church of Donavania and my private bed-chamber, both of which shall remain under the traditional system.

The heraldry of the Republic shall be that of the Grand Duchy.

The anthem of the Republic shall be that of the Donavan Family.

I, Chesley Donavan, shall be the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial departments of the Republic, and my decisions in all matters shall be the last word. To this office, my son shall succeed me.

All persons who are born within the borders of Donavania are citizens of the Republic and shall pay tribute to the Donavan family as I decide, or shall have their heads cut off.

Any person attempting to enter or leave the Republic except at my invitation shall have his legs cut off.

Any person guilty of blasphemy or shouting in church shall be forced to listen to sermons day and night for six weeks without respite.

The rights of the people, which are the right to freedom of speech, freedom to choose the state religion or death, freedom to pay tribute as required or have their heads cut off, freedom to leave the country at my whim, freedom to pay respects to my family - these rights shall not be infringed nor restricted in any manner by anyone but me.



I.   The Documents Above were almost certainly compiled by Paul Shoemaker (aka Harold Moss) in conjunction with other members of CD. They have been transcribed by Andrew Grygus (CD member from 1960) from the original typewritten masters found in the archives of Musica Donavania. Editing has been minimal, just sufficient to make them suitable for presentation on the Web. A Typical Manuscript Page can be viewed here. None of the items in this appendix were part of that set of documents.

II.   Donavanian Language: This language has been very difficult to translate. It is basically Slavic, but of a radically divergent form. It includes 27 cases and 5 genders (the usual three plus abstractness and nobility). There is no standard for plurals, each noun having its own. It also includes many ancient Egyptian words.

III.   English Language: This became the language of the Donavanian aristocracy when they fled to England after involvement in the Hussite heresy. This explains why some of the Donavanian documents were written in English. It was also during that stay that Cheslavvs Donavanvs was changed to Chesley Donavan.

V.   The Donavan Family:   Each successive ruler of Donavania, upon succeeding his predecessor, took the name "Chesley Donavan", thus presenting the illusion of an undying ruler. The actual title was Chespingus, but he was usually just called the "Chesley Donavan". The family claimed descent from Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV), the heretic monotheistic Pharaoh of Egypt - but there is not a shred of verifiable evidence of this.

VI.   Donavanian National Anthem:   Franz Schubert was eating a fish dinner across the street from Donavania. This was during a Donavanian festival and the Donavanian National Anthem was being played. Schubert, hearing the music through an open windows, asked his host, "That's wonderful, what is it?". His host, mistaking the question as being about dinner, responded "Trout". Years later he incorporating this music into his own work, The Trout Quintet. This was, of course adopted by CD as the only surviving rendition of the Donavanian National Anthem. The words were in Donavanian, and have been lost.

VII.   The Donavanian National Motto:   Donavanyezhda Etik Hogelli Norgrizheb. This phrase has defied translation.

VIII.   The High Church of Donavania:   We have no description or liturgy from the High Church, but presume, given the Donavan's claim to be descendants of the heretic Pharaoh Akhenaten, that the liturgy was Christian mixed with some Egyptian.

With the exception of Jon Lackey, members of the Chesley Donavan Foundation favored the polytheistic religion that preceded (and succeeded) Akhenaten's Aten worship - as did his son, Tutankhamen. Jon was an atheist, but used Egyptian motifs, mainly Aten, for pageants. Paul Shoemaker eventually gave up atheism to became a high priest of Horus within the Church of the Eternal Source. Egyptians within Donavania also rejected Aten in favor the traditional pantheon with Amen as the head.

Given the history of Donavania and the Foundation, we declare the Reformed High Church of Donavania to be Polytheistic - principally Kemetic (Egyptian Neopagan), but welcoming to other Pagan traditions. Adherents to Atheism and the Abrahamic religions are, doubtless to their benefit, welcome to attend services and events, so long as they are not disruptive.

Donavania 170301
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