Ukrainian folk art has centuries-old traditions.
Ukrainian weavers, painters, wood-carvers, potters, carpet-makers and
embroideresses are well-known all over the Ukraine and abroad. Polk art in Ukraine is rich
in forms and design and varies from region to region. In Ukraine there
are a number of districts where folk arte and handicrafts have a distinctly local
character. The works of the craftsmen of the Dnieper Basin,
of Chernigiv Polissia and of the Hutsul folk masters are quite different,
beautiful in their own way and popular.
Folk art is closely connected with the customs of the
people. The endurance of tradition is illustrated by customs and rituals which
are still alive though their original meaning may be forgotten. The pisanka
Easter egg is still painted and the wedding loaf is still baked, but not
everybody knows that they are parts of ancient pagan cults.
There are many permanent forms and motifs, connected
with these ancient cults, in Ukrainian folk art. A moat common ornamental
motif is the sun sign which may be a simple circle, one may come across it in
wood-carving, in pisanka (Easter egg), in Hutsul metalware, on embroidered
towels (rushniks). The representations of horses and birds are also very
popular in Ukrainian traditional folk arts and handicrafts. The old-time
belief was that the bird served as a symbol of peace and prosperity. The horse
symbol was used to protect from the evil eye.
Various kinds of artistic wood-carving have been known
in Ukrainian wood-lands since ancient times, especially in the foothills of the
Carpathians. Here, in many families the working of wood is a craft handed down
from generation to generation, the Shkribliaks and the Korpaniuke from the village of Yavoriv, Ivano-Frankivsk Region are
especially well-known. Hundreds of master carvers have participated in the
decoration of various modern buildings. Thus, Hutsul wood-carvers decorated
several restaurants in Ivano-Frankivsk and Yaremcha.
the art of metal-working reached its highwater mark as early as the
tenth-twelfth centuries. But at that time it was located in towns. Only at the
end of the eighteenth century the craft spread to the countryside. There
appeared many craftsmen in the left-Bank regions, Podillia and the Eastern Carpathians producing jewellery: rings, earrings,
ornamental buttons and dukachi necklets of gold and silver coins. Hutsul folk
craftsmen living in the Carpathian foothills continue to use the traditional
metal-working techniques that were used in the 18-th century to make such
things as knives, forester1s axes, pin and needle cases, tobacco pipes,
timberboxes, chains, buttons, crosses and so on.
The Ukrainians’ top popular arts and handicrafts have
long been embroidery, weaving and making of rugs and carpets. In olden days
every peasant woman knew how to embroider and do needlework. In fact she was
taught that from childhood. In Ukraine
embroidery was used to ornament clothes, table-linen and bed-linen and
especially the rushnik towels. Each place had its own particular methods for
embroidering this or that thing and its own colour scheme.
The rushnik towels were used to decorate the interior
of the house, to drape windows and the corner where the holy pictures were
hung. They were also used at different rituals. The weaving of rugs and
hangings was also a most popular craft in Ukraine. The traditional national
kilim was an element of interior decoration in every peasant house. It served
as wall hanging and table-cloth; the runner-type was spread over benches, while
smaller rugs carpeted seats. The main appeal of the kilim lies in its exciting
colour scheme. How kilims are mostly made at carpet-making establishments,
though in many villages in the Carpathians peasant women still weave kilims at home.
Kosiv and Kolomiya are famous for their kilims all over Ukraine.
Nowadays there are changes in the way folk craftsmen
are trained. There are special art schools and enterprises in such traditional
folk art centres as Kosiv, Yavoriv, Vizhnitsya.
Various expositions and the permanent collections of
the KievMuseum of Polk Decorative Art,
the Lviv Museum of Ethnography and Handicrafts, the Kolomiya Museum of Hutsul
Art display treasures created by the people in the course of many centuries.
The Ukrainians have long decorated with hand-painted
designs and scenes not only furniture, carts and playthings but also the walls
of their huts inside and out. In north-eastern part of Lviv there is the Museum of Polk Architecture and Rural Life. Its
exposition is arranged so as to show all the ethnographic areas of Ukraine. At the
beginning of the 20-th century ethnographic and historical ethnographic
districts were formed in the present-day western part of Ukraine: Boiko,
Hutsul, Lemko, Podillia, Polissia and Volhynia areas, the Carpathian plain and
Pokuttia. Each of these areas is reproduced in a separate section of the
museum. In each section there are huts, storehouses, work-shops, churches and
so on. The collection of the museum includes 112 monuments of folk architecture
brought in from the western parts of Ukraine. The work is not over. The
complete exposition is supposed to include over 200 exhibits.
weaver - ткач; wood-carver - різьбяр по дереву
potter – гончар; carpet-maker - килимар; handicraft - ремесло;
present-day - сучасний; hut - хата; store-house - стодола;
workshop - майстерня.
Answer the following questions:
1. What handicrafts are the Ukrainians famous for? 2.
What is folk art closely connected with? 3. What are the most common ornamental
motifs in Ukrainian folk art? 4. What does the main appeal of the Ukrainian
kilim carpet lie in? 5. Where are special art schools and enterprises? 6.
Where can one find expositions and permanent collections of pieces of Ukrainian
folk art? 7. What kind of museum lives an idea of Ukrainian folk architecture
and rural life? 8. What ethnographic areas were formed at the beginning of the
20-th century in the present-day western part of Ukraine?
The Hutsuls are a small ethnic sub-group of the
Ukrainians who live in the Eastern Carpathians.
They lived isolated in the mountains and developed quite distinctive crafts and
forms of their own. Thick forest gave them logs for buildings and for
wood-carving, sheep gave them wool for clothes and leather for their boots,
bags and belts and they made colourful hand-painted pottery of local clays.
Some of the peasant craftsmen achieved a high level of artistry.
The wooden buildings are perhaps among the Hutsuls
greatest achievements. Here we find a craftsman’s deep understanding of the
qualities of his material and a keen sense of proportion. 'The log house with
its long verandah under one side of a wide overhanging roof is typical for the
Hutsuls. In olden times there was also a log fence enclosing the front yard.
The Hutsul1s churches have always been planned like a
cross and have a tent-roofed tower. There are many remarkable variations, but
this is the typical Hutsul church.
The fame of the Carpathian wood-carvers since long has
spread well beyond their mountains. This craft grew out of the peasant's
natural desire to decorate the things he used. Simple at first the carvings
became gradually more artistic and Hutsul carvers started using different
inlays - wood, horn, metal, mother-of-pearl.
Jewellery was, however, one of their most ancient
crafts. Metal, mostly brass, was important for decorating their traditional
dress, leatherwear, weapons, tobacco pipes and other things.
Their decorative towels, table-cloths , rugs and
coverlets with the characteristic pattern and embroidery are done in warm
Then there are the famous fluffy lizhnik rugs and
kilim carpets which are still made in large numbers. Several crafts -weaving,
embroidery, metal and leather work - come together in wonderful harmony to make
leatherwear - одяг із шкіри; coverlet - покривало,
fluffy lizhnik rug - пухнастий ліжник.
Answer the following questions:
1. Where do the Hutsuls live? 2. What material do they
use for their crafts?3. What are
the Hutsuls' top popular arts and handicrafts? 4. What kind of house may be
considered typical for the Hutsuls? 5. What inlays do Hutsul carvers use? 6. Is
metal used by the Hutsuls to decorate dress and leatherwear? 7. What do the
Hutsuls decorate with embroidery?