Ukrainian traditional clothing is rather diverse. The festive outfits are always colorful and rich in embroidery and bright decorations. But there are certain regional features that help to distinguish the attires according to the area of origin. Here you are the collection of the folk costumes from different regions of Ukraine that belongs to the Museum of Ethnography and Crafts in Lviv (western Ukraine).
For Ukrainians, embroidering is very symbolic. Only women used to embroider because this process was considered sacred – though, today anyone can do it. When a woman is embroidering she scribes the life she wants for the owner of the piece on the fabric. Hand embroidering is a process similar to the meditation. In Ukraine, people believe in the power of embroidering and know how to use this power.
The tradition of making and using embroidery on fabric in Ukraine is very ancient and strong. Many pieces of the national costume of this country are embroidered (like embroidered shirt called “vyshyvanka”), as well as festive towels (called “rushnyk”), tablecloths, toys, and other household items. There are over 250 embroidery stitches used by the craftswomen. Every region of Ukraine has its own patterns, symbols, traditions, colors, and techniques of embroidering.
Many modern young people in Ukraine are fond of the national costumes of this country. Of course, you can buy a modern embroidered shirt called “vyshyvanka” without any efforts at all. But in Ukraine, today it is prestigious and stylish to have a full set of authentic clothing: a shirt embroidered by a great-great-granny, garments made from a homespun cloth, vintage hand-woven pieces, etc. Here is a nice modern fashion show of vintage Ukrainian outfits organized by several students. All the costumes were collected in different villages around the country piece by piece.
Ukraine treasures its clothing traditions very much. The exhibitions of vintage embroidered garments and folk costumes are often held in this country. In some cases, such exhibitions can be ordinary and even a little dull but there are exceptions. A few days ago Ukraine had an international festival of traditional cultures called “Ethnoworld”. One of the items presented at that event was a collection of vintage embroidered women’s shirts. The pieces themselves were extraordinary but the presentation was even more striking.
The Carpathian regions of Ukraine are famous for their traditional crafts and clothing. Nowhere else in Ukraine will you find as richly embellished and outstanding outfits as the clothing used by Ukrainian Hutsuls. These highlanders are very proud, skillful, and hardworking people. And all of that is reflected in their traditional costumes. Some pieces of clothing are used only in Carpathian regions and are really unique. If you haven't seen Hutsul folk costumes, you can't have the full picture of Ukrainian heritage in the art of traditional dressing.
A loom is a machine used to weave cloth. Weaving is one of the oldest crafts in the world. Hundreds of years ago people used to make all their clothes at home. They grew special plants and animals, made yarn, wove cloth and sewed clothing. Nowadays almost all kinds of fabric are made industrially. But even today some people continue their grandmother's work and weave cloth with a help of small wooden looms. It is really interesting to compare several different looms. They may have diverse construction and elements, but their principles of work are mostly the same.
Ukrainian traditional clothing of the end of the 19th century – the early 20th century still had a lot of features historically typical for this country. Women used embroidered garments, bonnet-like headdresses, colorful pieces of clothes, woven items, and richly decorated outerwear and bags. Today most of such vintage outfits belong to museums and private collectors. The costumes we'd like to show you right now belong to the large collection of the National Museum of the History of Ukraine.
These photos represent the traditional costumes of Ukraine used at the end of the 19th – beginning of the 20th century. All the costumes today belong to the private collections of Vira Matkovska and Olena Didyk. The outfits are shown to the public pretty seldom. The main features of garments used during this specified period of time are bright colors, dense embroidery, beautiful and colorful headdresses, and a small amount of jewelry.
Borshchiv embroidered shirts (Ternopil region, Western part of Ukraine) are made using unique techniques and patterns. The traditional clothing of this area differs from any other region of Ukraine. Black color predominates in Borshchiv embroidery patterns. But despite it, the garments look festive and sophisticated, not depressing or mourning. And that's magic. There is a collector in Ukraine who gathers Borshchiv embroidered clothing, studies it and spreads the knowledge about the national heritage of this area of Ukraine. She is Vira Matkovska, and here are several samples from her private collection.