Friday, April 15, 2011

Embroidery of Rudky county, Lviw Oblast, Halychyna, Ukraine

Hello All,
Today i will do on of a series of followups to my previous posting, on Halychyna costume. There is a lot of material to cover. Halychyna has several traditional regional embroidery styles. Probably the most famous is that of Javoriw [or Yavoriw, the Latin alphabet is a pain, English really should switch to Cyrillic]. Today i will cover a less well known tradition, that of the county of Rudky. Here is a county map of Lviw Oblast, in Western Ukraine.

And here is a close up map of the area, I will be citing source villages when they are known. The map is in Ukrainian. but I have put the names of the towns and villages mentioned in latin letters in red.

For the costume of this region, see my previous posting, Halychyna Costume. These designs were of course used on many household linens as well as on clothing.
The most typical embroidery of this region as of the beginning of  the 20th century is cross stitch. The basic motif is small red roses, similar to the embroidery of the Drohobych area, but in Drohobych the designs are mostly black. These designs are geometrized to a large degree, and do not much resemble the floral rose designs of East Ukraine. This regional style was well documented by L. Krawchuk. Here are several charts of designs from her publication, 'Ukrainian Folk Embroidery of Lviw Oblast'.
They use a turn-down collar in this region, as in many parts of Western Ukraine. Here are a couple of charts of designs of the corners of collars from the village of Kolbaievychi. Notice the overcast edges.

You will notice the combination of stylized floral motifs with the geometric. The colors depicted are schematic, you should choose shades that complement each other, and not take these prints as exact depictions of the shade of each color. Ukrainians generally embroider with either DMC 666 or 321 red. The original embroidery was very fine. These would make fine edgings for table scarves, etc.
Here are a couple of designs from the shoulder inset 'ustawka' of women's chemises. These are from the actual town of Rudky.

On the originals, the linen was home woven, and the braid or herringbone stitch was done in thread thin enough to be seen like this.  This is a good example of rows of small motifs put together to make a larger design. Both the green and blue should be brighter than this depiction.

Here you have a largrer center motif with only one lesser motif on either side. The framing of a motif, and providing a definite edge is very typical of Ukrainian embroidery compostion. 

Here is a more stylised central motif. This design is found in other parts of Ukraine, but here it is done in the pallete of colors typical of Rudky. Again note the framing and edging of the design.
Free form stem stitch and satin stitch is not common in Ukraine, but it does occur. This style is called Hapt or Haft in Ukrainian. Here is an example of a woman's ustawka done in this style from this region, also from the town of Rudky.

Here i would like to show some works by the famous embroidery artist Ol'ha Voznytsia which are done in the style of this region. Here is a photo of Ol'ha herself, wearing a blouse in a modern cut with Rudky embroidery.

You will notice that the embroidery is colorful and lively, but the colors complement each other without being gaudy or eye-piercing. This is the effect that should be strived for. Here is a close-up of the embroidery on this blouse. You will notice that there is embroidery on the shoulder piece and also on the uppper sleeve, complemented with hemstitching.

Here is a table scarf, 'servetka', done in Rudky style embroidery.

Here is a reasonable reconstruction of the Halychyna costume, minus the headgear and with modern shoes. you will notice that she is wearing a solid color skirt, no patterns, no ribbons, this would be a modern take on the outfit, it would be more traditional to make the skirt more ornamented.

Sometimes the apron was made from one loom width, sometimes from two. When working on a hand loom, it becomes very difficult if the loom is wider than about 22 inches, just for physical reasons. If the choice is made to use two loom widths, in western Ukraine, instead of trying to hide the central seam, they make it part of the design, with a fancy hand joining technique of some sort, and emphasized by the placement of the embroidery, as you can see here. This is also typical of the Javoriw costume. Below is a closeup of the embroidery. You will notice that it is done on Aida cloth. This I  DO NOT RECOMMEND. In Ukraine, when people no longer wove their own cloth, they worked on whatever they could get. You will get a much nicer finished product working with some even weave cloth, Jobelin, Salem Cloth, even weave linen, hemp, or a blend. I would also not recommend 'hardanger cloth' or panama. There are many types of fiber blends available in various thread counts and weights for various purposes.

Just one example of Rudky style Haft embroidered by Maria Kalyniak.

To finish, i will show you a photo of a perfoming group wearing the Rudky variant of the Halychyna costume. Remember, the biggest difference between the various counties is in the embroidery. If you look closely, you will notice that the skirts are different colors, and the embroidery is somewhat different on each girl. I personally find this a good thing in a performing group. I have never thought that having each person wear the exact same outfit with the exact same embroidery is a good presentation. In the village, each would have a somewhat different expression within a common style.

Thank you all for reading, I hope that you found this interesting, informative and inspiring. We should note the tradition our ancesters had of making beautiful things to use in daily life come to an end. Go forth and create.

Feel free to contact me with requests for research. I hope to eventually cover all of Europe and the Former Russian Empire/Soviet Union. I also gratefully accept tips on source materials which i may not have. I also accept commissions to research/design, sew, and/or embroider costumes or other items for groups or individuals.
Roman K.

Source Material:
L. Krawchuk, 'Ukrainian Folk Embroidery of Lviw Oblast' Kyjiw [Kiev], 1961
Ol'ha Voznytsia, 'Vyshywka Moje Zhyttia' [Embroidery of My Life], Drohobych, Ukraine, 2006
Maria Kalyniak, 'Ukrajinska Vyshywka, Suchasne Traktuvannia' [Ukrainian Embroidery, a Modern Approach], Lviw, 2004


  1. These are beautiful! Thank you for the information. You not only showed beautiful designs, your information also helped me piece together puzzles of my genealogy search. So thank you a million fold!

    To know this is the county my family came from is amazing. To know bits of the culture via embroidery is just amazing. If you have any more information on the folk costumes from this county, I'd love to know more!

    Thanks again!


  2. Thank you Kiki,
    for more general information you can take a look at the posting previous to this one.
    or you can write me at the email address shown above.

  3. Thanks for the link, Roman! I sent you an email, too!

  4. Grandma had embroided big red roses.....from Mostiska near San River

  5. The big red roses were a fad all over Ukraine in the early 19th cent.
    The patterns were printed on wrappers for soap.
    Many people in Halychyna copied these patterns because they liked them, and wanted to do Ukrainian embroidery.

  6. I'm currently working on my master's thesis in Ukrainian Folklore. I'm specifically looking for sources of Ukrainian embroidery that Canadian pioneers would have had access to between approx 1915 - 1935. e.g. DMC patterns, Nova Chata magazine patterns, any other published patterns that the women would have subscribed to or shared. please contact me if anyone has images to share

  7. Hi Roman, is it possible to get the pattern for the roses? And the tree of life?Thanks a lot.