Ukraine

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Polissia avaA lot of female folk costumes in Ukraine included an apron. It was a festive piece of clothing, a handy garment that protected the skirt and could be easily washed, an item used for extra warmth in winter – a very multifunctional article of clothes. And every woman tried to make her aprons unique and beautiful – they adorned aprons with embroidery, openwork, prints, woven patterns, etc, and used costly fabrics, like silk and gold-cloth, to make them. Each Ukrainian folk apron is gorgeous, and, luckily, many of them survived to this day. Here are a few examples of authentic aprons from museum collections.

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Chernihiv avaNorthern regions of Ukraine are a swampy woodland area. The lifestyle of local people differed a lot from those in other regions. For example, they traditionally used materials and food the forest gave them, while Ukrainians from other territories mostly survived from farming. Also, the local climate is a bit colder and more humid, with hordes of midge everywhere, so people often preferred to wear woven clothes and thicker fabrics. Their traditional footwear was bast shoes because birch, willow, or other tree bark was available in large quantities.

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Woven towel avaIt’s typical for many Slavic countries to use ceremonial towels (wedding towels, towels framing religious icons, etc). Most often, they are hand-embroidered, but in some regions, people preferred woven towels with rich and bright patterns. Here is a collection of woven ceremonial towels from northern Ukraine, the late 19th – early 20th century. They were woven on vintage weaving looms by skilled artisans and sold out to ordinary Ukrainians. Now, they’re exhibited in a museum.

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Krysania avaOne of the most famous subethnic groups of Ukrainians is Hutsul people. They live in a certain area in the Carpathian Mountains and have an extremely rich and bright culture. Particularly, Hutsul traditional clothing differs a lot from any other Ukrainian folk costume. Today, we’ll talk about a charming accessory used by Hutsul men – a festive hat called “krysania”. Every Hutsul boy used to dream about this stylish headdress and every young man knew how to wear it to look carefree and nonchalant.

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Fair avaIn the 19th century, town fairs became extremely popular in many European countries, including Ukraine, Poland, Romania, Hungary, and so on. Large fairs were held 1-2 times a year and were huge. They were a place where different cultures, regions, ethnic groups, and traditions met and intermixed. Merchants traveled from one market place to the other and brought their goods, often imported. All these factors more or less influenced the local fashion and clothing traditions.

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Tree of life2 avaIn Ukraine, ceremonial wedding towels are an integral part of the traditional (and even modern) marriage ceremony. Practically every couple uses a so-called “rushnyk” during their wedding and then preserves this item as something sacred for the family. In the past, each woman wove and embroidered her wedding towel by herself. So, many authentic examples survived to this day and are now kept in museums and private collections. Here is a large collection of wedding towels with the Tree of Life depicted on them. Why did women like the Tree-of-Life motif so much? Let’s find out.

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Kaptur avaUkrainian women have always been very creative with their clothing, jewelry, and accessories. There are dozens of arty-crafty headdresses or at least elaborate ways of draping even the simplest headpieces. But this particular headdress is truly unique – it was worn by married women only in a small area and, today, it is almost vanished. But why is this accessory interesting and special? Because women were banned to wear it to the church in the 19th century. Strange, isn’t it? Let’s find out why.

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Rushnyk avaHere are several samples of Ukrainian traditional needlework and openwork. These two crafts were widely used by the local women to decorate clothing, tablecloths, bridal and ceremonial towels, etc. We’ve found some vintage examples of ceremonial towels called “rushnyk” that represent old traditions, beliefs, and skill. These are from central regions of Ukraine, the late 19th – early 20th century. They are museum exhibits. Every piece of the towels is handmade – they are hand-woven from linen or hemp yarn and embellished with embroidery, openwork, fringe, etc.

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Embroidery Pol avaFloral embroidery patterns are among popular Ukrainian needlework stitches. Ethnologists say that the oldest patterns were most likely geometric, but floral needlework designs, though appeared later, became extremely popular and are often seen on authentic Ukrainian clothing, particularly on women’s embroidered shirts. Here you are a few garments adorned with traditional stitching in red and black colors. It’s amazing how differently flowers can look and how many embroidery stitches can be used to create simple flower petals on the fabric.

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Poltava embroidery avaPeople didn’t have synthetic dyes 200 years ago, so they used various natural pigments to dye threads for needlework. Of course, the available color palette wasn’t very wide. In Ukraine, the most popular colors of embroidery were red, black, brown, gray, yellow, blue, and white. In the mid-19th century, synthetic dyes appeared and quickly became widely used, so natural pigments were almost forgotten by the artisans. But what kind of natural dyes did our ancestors know? How did they get the needed color?

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Indigo avaOnly one small district in Central Ukraine has authentic shirts adorned with indigo blue embroidery. They were made with threads dyed with a rather expensive natural dye – indigo, obviously. What’s so interesting about these garments? Except for the blue color of needlework, which was not typical for Ukraine, indigo is a very resistant dye and the threads don’t lose their bright color after many washings and sunlight influence. This allows for indigo blue embroidered shirts to be used for years and years, as these were festive garments worn only for special occasions.

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Poltava avaWe’ve written about Ukrainian whitework embroidery recently, but, obviously, some fine examples of these patterns are always in situ. So, here you are a number of photos, including many close-ups, of this unusual needlework technique. The shirts adorned with whitework look sophisticated and pristine, don’t they? These garments are vintage embroidered shirts from Central Ukraine, the late 19th – first half of the 20th century.

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Spadok ava3This is the last part of a series of charming videos dedicated to Ukrainian folk dress. This time, you’ll see how married women in Ukraine got dressed 100-150 years ago step by step. These are 7 videos presenting the traditional festive costumes of married females from different regions of the country. All the clothing articles are original, from the late 19th – early 20th century. Note that married women always hid their hair under a headdress, thus there were many cute hairstyles that helped braid and pin the hair around the head.

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Spadok ava2We’re continuing to introduce you to the series of excellent videos dedicated to Ukrainian national clothing. They show you how vintage Ukrainian outfits are put on step by step. Here you are 5 videos that show the most eye-catching headdresses worn by married women, elderly women, and wedding matchmakers in different regions of Ukraine. All the clothing pieces are original, from the late 19th – early 20th century, and designed for special occasions. This is how Ukrainian married females dressed 100-150 years ago.

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Spadok ava1We’d like to offer you a series of great videos dedicated to Ukrainian national costumes. You will see how these gorgeous vintage garments are worn step by step, piece after piece, including authentic hairstyles, footwear, jewelry, and other important items. Here you are 5 videos that show unmarried girls from different regions of Ukraine dressing up for a festive occasion. All the clothing articles are original, from the late 19th – early 20th century. This is how young Ukrainian girls dressed 100-150 years ago.

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Whitework avaThe central Ukrainian regions are characterized by a specific embroidery technique called “whitework” used to embellish the traditional clothing. Actually, every region of Ukraine has its own needlework features, techniques, patterns, and colors. But whitework is mostly seen only in a certain area. This extraordinary embroidery technique not only creates beautiful outfits but demands a lot of skill from a craftswoman. Though in the end, it’s worth all the effort. Let’s find out how Ukrainian whitework looks like, where women took inspirations for new patterns, and what whitework symbolizes.

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Necklace avaWomen from different corners of our planet love beads. And, according to archaeological finds and historical documents, people have been wearing beaded jewelry for ages. We’ve made a short sweep through several Ukrainian archaeological museums to gather for you the photos of beaded necklaces from the oldest historical periods – Scythian, Sarmatian, Age of Antiquity, Medieval, etc. It’s funny but you can barely distinguish the necklaces from eras that are thousands of years apart. Amazing how people could produce such cute handmade glass, stone, clay beads around 3,000 years ago!

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Ukrainian embroidery69 avaThere is one region in Ukraine where you can find a truly unique traditional embroidered shirt. It got the name “sleeves”, and for a particular reason. These women’s shirts are different from any other shirts in Ukraine and beyond. It takes about a year and 700-800 m of thread to finish one shirt. The embroidery designs on these garments aren’t too complicated but they consist of several thousands of repetitive symbols – that’s why this needlework is so time-consuming. These Hutsul “sleeves” represent the proud and hard-working people of the Carpathian region of Ukraine.

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wedding kerchief avaIn the 19th-20th century in Ukraine, there used to be a specific wedding tradition – the couple’s family presented the most honorable guests with little embroidered kerchiefs. These kerchiefs were than kept in the most prominent place at home and collected through the years because the number of such gifts showed the status of the family in the local society and the attitude of their neighbors to them. Some of these cute embroidered kerchiefs today are kept in folk museums and private collections, like these ones.

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manta avaIt’s Christmas time now, the ideal time to remember your traditions and folk culture. This winter is not very harsh and cold, but in the past, winters often were severe and freezing, especially in the northern hemisphere. Also, you must understand that there were no or very few synthetic fabrics 100-150 years ago, so winter outerwear was mostly made from fur, sheepskin, and wool. Here you are a selection of photos that depict Ukrainian vintage winter clothes.

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KR2 avaRuthenia or Kyivan Rus was a rather wealthy and expanded state in Europe in the 9th-13th century. Its rulers could afford the most expensive jewelry, the finest fabrics, and the most elaborate embellishments. Still, at the time, people used only natural materials, but they knew well how to handle these materials and make really exceptional clothing pieces and jewels out of them. Unfortunately, there are very few jewelry pieces (we can find in museums and private collections) and no outfits at all that survived to this day, but here are lovely and accurate modern replicas of costumes used by Ruthenian royals and other citizens.

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Towel avaThese are Ukrainian ceremonial towels used as wedding and ritual accessories and décor items. Many countries around the world have this accessory in their folk culture, especially Slavic countries, but the design of ceremonial towels (by the way, they are called “rushnyk” in Ukraine) you’ll see below is very unique and unusual. We’re not sure if you can find such colorful and naive ornaments anywhere else on this planet. These ceremonial towels impress by their cheerfulness.

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Podillia shirt avaAn embroidered shirt was the basic garment, both male and female, on the territory of modern Ukraine since Kyivan Rus’ or even earlier. It was an underwear item, on top of which people put trousers, skirts, outer garments, etc. Only some parts of these shirts were usually visible – sleeves, cuffs, neckline, sometimes the front, and the hem in women’s shirts. That’s why only these sections were adorned with embroidery. In this material, we’ve gathered for you cute female shirts embroidered with predominantly red threads, predominantly white threads, or predominantly black treads. They have a stylish and sophisticated look.

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Podillia men avaIt is true that Ukrainian museums and private collections have a very limited collection of authentic male embroidered shirts. Usually, such shirts were so worn down that people simply didn’t donate them to museums. So, we’re more than happy to share with you a few extremely beautiful and sophisticated men’s shirts embellished with whitework and other embroidery techniques. They are in mint shape and overwhelm you with their uniqueness and the amount of labor and skill needed to produce such artful pieces of clothes.

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Galicia avaIn the mid-13th century, Kyivan Rus’ fall into pieces after the Mongol invasion. And one of these pieces – the Kingdom of Galicia-Volhynia – was ruled by the king Daniel of Galicia. Historians know exactly how he looked like and dressed. So, let’s see on his example and the example of his closest royal men, what clothing the European royalty wore in the 1200s. The outfits we’ll show you are modern and very accurate replicas of authentic costumes. Though, they are exhibits in a museum and so are made from cheaper materials – no gold, real pearls and gems, etc.

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Rushnyk1 avaUkrainian embroidered ceremonial towels from different parts of the country look alike; there are certain rules as to how they should be made, what embroidery patterns should be used, and so on. But there is a small region in Ukraine that is famous for its absolutely special and unique ceremonial towels. Just look at these embroidery designs! They are so childish, so cheerful and bright, so unlike any other in the world, they catch your eye immediately and brighten up your mood. In modern life, such art pieces could be used to kill depression.