Sunday, December 23, 2018

Hutsul flat stitch embroidery, Rakhiw district, Transcarpathian Hutsulshchyna, Ukraine

Hello all,
Today I will talk about a little known type of Hutsul embroidery. The image above is from the book 'Derzhawnyj Muzej Etnohrafiji ta Khudozhn'oho Promyslu AN Ukssr' image 28 under embroidery. I have always loved this design, and is one example of why I hate black and white photography. There is much valuable material which has been preserved this way, but I would have loved to replicate this design in its original colors. The book attributes this to the village of Lazeshchyna in Transcarpathia. This is a Hutsul village which lies between Yasinya and the crest of the Carpathians. I doubted this, because this did not look like any Hutsul embroidery with which I was familiar, and also because the book attributed another image which was clearly from the Khust region to the same village. Soviet era books often had mistakes which were missed in proofreading.
I have since come across more examples from other sources, and It does actually appear to be from this region.

Here is an example from 'L'art Populaire en Russie Subcarpathique'. This is labelled as being from 'Rakhovo' [Rakhiw].

This is clearly a related design. As in the first, this is multicolored, and executed in flat stitch, or counted satin stitch. This is one of my favorite techniques.

Most commonly we associate the Hutsuls with nyzynka, like this example from Yasinya,

Or cross stitch, like this example from Kobylets'ka Poliana.

Both of these designs are shoulder insets [ustawky] from womens' chemises. You will even see these stitches combined, as in this example, also from Yasinya.

I believe that the flat stitching may have originated out of a desire to incorporate more colors, and originally sort of imitated nyzynka, like this example from Kobylets'ka Poliana.

This example incorporates both flat stitching and nyzynka, also from Kobylets'ka Poliana.

In this example, the flat stitches have changed orientation, and now the stitches run horizontally instead of vertically. From Kosiws'ka Poliana.

This example is also from Kosiws'ka Poliana, and has flat stitching in both directions, as well as eyelets, braid stitch and nyzynka.

This example somewhat resembles nastyl embroidery from around Tlumach. The difference is that nastyl stitches run diagonally, whereas these run horizontally or vertically. Here the design is built up from multiple rows of brick colored stitches, with just a little black for contrast. This is from Yasinya. I believe my grandmother once copied this design.

Here is another example from Yasinya done mostly in white on white. This would be a wonderful design to copy.

Here are a couple of unusual pieces from the village of Bohdan, using kachalochka.

Here you can see the placement of the embroidery in the Rakhiw costume.

Here are some images from Iryna Svyontek's 'Hutsul'ska Vyshywka Karpat', album 4, that show the same kind of embroidery.

I will close with just a couple more examples of the Rakhiw district costume with this kind of embroidery.

Thank you for reading, I hope that you have found this to be interesting and informative.

Roman K.

Source Material:

O. I . Kubajewych, 'Derzhawnyj Muzej Etnohrafiji ta Khudozhn'oho Promyslu AN Ukssr', Kyjiw, 1976
S. Makovsky, "L'arte Populaire en Russie Subcarpathique', Prague, 1926
Iryna Svjontek, 'Hutsul'ski Vyshywky Karpat' Album 4, L'viw, 2016
V. Bilozub et al. 'Ukrajins'ke Narodne Mystetsvo - Tkanyny i Vyshywky' [Ukrainian Folk Art - Weaving and Embroidery] Kyjiw, [Kiev] 1960

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Costume and embroidery of Horodenka district, Pokuttia, Ukraine

Hello all,
Today I will talk about the basic costume of the district of Horodenka. This is often given as the typical costume of Pokuttia, but in fact, there is much variation in Pokuttia costume. The Horodenka district lies in the easternmost corner of Ivano-Frankiwsk Oblast, and is in the northeast corner of Pokuttia, bordering Podillia on the north and Bukovyna on the east. The costume has much in common with both. Here is the location of Horodenka district.

As you can see from the photo at the head of the article, the predominant color of this costume is a rusty brick red. The embroidery and weaving do have accents of yellow, black, green and other colors, and some individual villages have unique details. The villages of Torhovytsia and Toporivtsi, which lie in the south bordering Sniatyn district often embroider in white, and the villages of Serafyntsi and Yaseniw Pil'nyj in the east each have a rather distinct costume. In modern times the embroidery has tended towards more of a true red.

Here you can see the basic pieces of this costume. For the women, a long chemise heavily embroidered on the sleeves. A wrap around overskirt obhortka, sometimes called fota, which is held in place with a wide sash. A narrow sash is used to hold the wide sash in place. A one panel apron is worn; sometimes flat with woven ornament, but often it is pleated lengthwise, and pulls together at the bottom.
Men wear a long shirt with embroidery on collar cuffs and front, a wide sash similar to the womens', and narrow linen or wool pants.
Both wear short, relatively simple sheepskin vests, and rather plain jacket made of sukno.

The chemise has ustawky, or shoulder pieces sewn to the top of the body pieces. The shoulder insets are embroidered, and also a stripe on the top of the sleeve. A strip is sewn to each side of the front and back fields, and all these seams are embellished with interlace.

The sleeves are often crimped, and sometimes the front as well, in the unembroidered space.

The sleeves and body are usually gathered into the collar and cuffs, which are embroidered.

Sometimes the ends of the body and the sleeves are gathered without an actual collar or cuff attached.

Today the embroidery is often cross stitch. A portion of the design is often repeated once or twice above the main motif. 

Here, as often happens, the upper sleeve is embroidered with a row of interlace or topwinder embroidery.

It is my belief that this technique was borrowed from Armenians who lived in Halychyna.
I have previously written an article on this detail.

Some of the cross stitch designs were adapted from other, older techniques. These are still seen to some extent. Here are some examples.






Some chemises have a sleeve which narrows at the end, and are neither gathered nor have a cuff.

 Some of these have a seam which spirals down the sleeve. I have no idea how they are cut.

Today, of course, some people use modern embroidery designs but place them within the traditional layout.

The overskirt is woven with incredible detail. The overwhelming color is always brick or orange, but the details of design vary remarkably with the individual.


This display shows the classic way of wearing this costume. Obhortka tucked up, apron pleated, and large sash holding all, with a small sash keeping the large one in place. There are, of course, other variations.

Some aprons were highly ornamented, and worn flat rather than pleated.


The narrow sashes were often highly ornamented.

Married women put their hair up, most likely with a cap, and then wrapped a long length of cloth, the namitka around the head. Thise was ornamented on the ends, and along the edge which was placed over the forehead.

The ornament, as in this one, was often woven in. This image shows woven ornament from a namitka, and a cap, either sprang or crochet which would have been worn under it.

Many were embroidered, often in cross stitch.

This woman's namitka seems to be embroidered completely with eyelets. This may perhaps indicate influence from the Towmach district.

 But the most impressive ones were done in nabir, also known as Horodenka stitch.



Wedding crowns were impressive, and often incorporated a wreath wrapped in wool yarn. Note the addition of a gerdan. These were often worn on the head by themselves, as well.

The men's outfit consisted of a long shirt with embroidery on cuffs, collar, front opening, and sometimes the shoulder. Long narrow pants were worn, linen in summer, or wool in winter, almost always white, but you will see photos of men wearing jodphurs, which they must have acquired during military service.  Boots were worn by those who could afford them. Sashes were about 6 inches wide, and were usually plain orange in the center with colored stripes towards the ends, which showed when they were tied, and often had tassels.

Here are three men's shirts from my private collection.

On this first one, the collar is embroidered in cross stitch with the edging in blanket stitch. The collar and cuffs are done in shabak, or needleweaving hemstitch, using a fuzzy wool thread. As you can see, my cat insisted on helping.

This second one also has open sleeves, the collar, front opening and cuffs are all done in cross stitch.


The first two were of hemp, this one is linen, has a side gusset, a line of embroidery on the shoulder seam, and sleeves gathered into cuffs.

Here are some more examples of men's shirts.

This man is wearing clothing from the village of Luka.

This man is from the village of Tyshkiwtsi.

 This one is from the village of Cherniatyn.

An example from the village of Korniw.

This boy is from Kopachyntsi. The collar embroidery at right is from Tyshkiwtsi. 

You can see examples of the men's sashes above. I have one somewhere, if the moths havn't destroyed it yet. Here are a couple more examples.


As you can see from the various images above, both men and women wore short sheepskin vests, simpler than those of the Hutsuls, the ornament varying by village.

Here is a family from Cherniatyn.

Full length coats of sheepskin or sukno were also worn.

This couple is from Cherniatyn.

The next few images are all from Tyshkiwtsi.

Thank you for reading, I hope that you have found this to be interesting and informative.

Roman K


Source Material:
Iryna Svyontek, 'Pokutski Vyshywky Prykarpattia', L'viw, 2013

Tania Diakiw O'Neill, 'Ukrainian Embroidery Techniques', Mountaintop, Pa, 1984

Olena Kulynych-Stakhurska, 'The Art of Ukrainian Embroidery', L'viw, 1996
Tamara NIkolajewna, 'Ukrainian Costume, Hope for a Renaissance, Kyjiw [Kiev], 2005
K. I. Matejko, 'Ukrajinskyj Narodnyj Odjah', Kyjiw [Kiev], 1977
Tamara Nikolajewna, 'Istoria Ukrajins'koho Kostiuma', Kyjiw [Kiev], 1996
Oksana Grabowicz et al, 'Traditional Designs in Ukrainian Textiles', The Ukrainian Musem, New York, 1977
M. C. Bilan and H. H. Stel'mashchuk, 'Ukrajins'kyj Strij', L'viw, 2000
Lubow Wolynetz, 'Ukrainian Folk Art', The Ukrainian Museum, New York, 1984      
O. Kul'chytska, 'Folk Costumes of the Western Regions of the Ukrainian SSR, 1959