Saturday, May 11, 2019

Overview of the Folk Costumes of Poland part 4; Czerwona Rus' and Lemkowszczyna

Hello all,

This is the last installment of my overview of the Folk Costumes found within the current borders of Poland. this will cover the southeasternmost part of the country, which is known as Czerwona Rus'. This is often translated as 'Red Ruthenia', but Ruthenia is a Latin word which was which was never used in the region, so it would be better to translate it as 'Red Rusynia'. It is shown in dull red on this map in the southeast.

This territory was not part of Mieszko's Kingdom, but rather belonged to the Kievan Empire. The territory was historically inhabited by Rusyns [Ukrainians], but over the centuries the borders were pushed back and forth, and Polish people settled in most of this area, especially in the west. There was a great reshuffling of populations after WWII, with many Polish who lived further east being resettled, and Ukrainians moved out. There is good evidence as to which communities were Polish and which were Ukrainian, because the Polish were overwhelmingly Roman Catholic, whereas the Ukrainians were Orthodox or Byzantine Catholic, and each parish was recorded as such in Church records. A great deal of this territory was ethnically mixed, with Polish predominating in the western parts, and often in the larger cities, and Ukrainians predominating in the eastern parts. I will present the material from north to south. There are some areas from which very little is known.

This map shows the approximate costume regions from the north of this area and nearby surrounding areas. It does not show the extent of the costume regions beyond the Bug river, which forms part of the current Polish border.

 Chełm - Холм, Kholm

In the north, some villages wore a costume very close to that of Włodawa - Володава Volodava, being of white linen with woven ornament. On the map you can see that the northern part of Chelm region lies in the Wlodawa costume area.
 In the central and southern parts of the region, there was another costume, based on striped woven skirts and embroidered shirts and aprons. This costume falls within the Volyn' costume type.


 Krasnystaw - Красностав, Krasnostav

This region lies to the southwest of Chelm, and seems to be all Polish. There is very little which I have been able to find from this region. It is misspelled on the map above, there being an extra r inserted.

Zamość - Замостя, Zamostia

This region lies south of Krasnystaw, and was very mixed ethnically, there being notable numbers of Armenians and Jews as well as Poles and Ukrainians. This costume shows strong influence from both Polish and Ukrainian costume.


Hrubieszów - Грубешів, Hrubeshiv

This costume is found in parts of Hrubieszow and Tomaszów counties. I do not believe that it extends as far north and west as is shown on the map above. It does extend past the current border into Ukraine, into southwestern Volyn' and northwestern Halychyna, where it is called the Sokal' costume. This region has a very rich and distinct embroidery tradition, traditionally all in black, but on the Polish side, they seem to use more colors and sometimes designs from further east.

I have already written about this costume.


 Biłgoraj - Білго́рай, Bilhorai
This region lies south and somewhat west of Zamosc, It overlaps both Malopolska and Red Rusynia. The Lasowiacy lie to the west, a group which has a very similar costume. The costume area extends further south and east than is shown on the map above. While this costume is considered to be primarily Polish, there is evidence that it was worn in some Ukrainian villages to the southeast of this region, in particular the village Dobra near Jaroslaw. This costume is extremely archaic, being made all of white linen with curvilinear embroidery, and not having undergone the changes of most of the surrounding costumes.



This is a town in the Bilgoraj region, and is known for its town costume.


Lubaczów - Любачів, Liubachiv

This region lies on the Ukrainian border between Tomaszow and Przemysl.



 This region lies west of Lubaczow, on the western edge of Czerwona Rus', and is considered to be purely Polish. It often includes two subregions which lie immediately east of it.
The Pogorzanie lie to the southwest and the Lasowiacy to the northwest.



This region lies just east of Rzeszow, and is sometimes considered to be a subregion of it. It is also considered to be purely Polish.



This lies to the east of Rzeszow and southeast of Lancut. It is also often considered to be a subregion of Rrzeszow, and is considered to be purely Polish.


 Przemyśl - Peremyshl, Перемишль

This region lies south of Lubaczow and Przeworsk, in the lowlands of the San river valley. Although this area is extremely important to both Polish and Ukrainian history, there seems to be no Folk costume remembered specifically for this region, apart from a few individual images. If anyone has any more information, I would like to learn more.

The four following images are from Kul'chytska

village of Sośnica - Сосниця, Sosnytsia.

This village has its own distinct embroidery tradition, used on the headscarves.,_Podkarpackie_Voivodeship


Village of Torki - Торки

Baligród - Балигород, Balyhorod

This town lies much further south, and is often considered to be part of the Boiko region, but the costume resembles that found further north.

Boiko region

 The southeast corner of Poland, in the highlands lies within the Boiko region, most of which lies within the current Ukrainian borders. The western edge lies in the highlands between the Oslawa and Jablonka river valleys. The costume of this region greatly resembles that of the Turka region in Ukraine. Many people mistakenly believe that the Boiko region does not extend into Poland. Boikos are considered to be purely Ukrainian, or Rusyn.

 Lemko region 

in Polish Łemkowszczyzna, in Ukrainian Лемківщина, Lemkivshchyna
in Lemko Лемковина, Lemkovyna

 The Lemkos are eastern slavs who either form a subgroup of the Ukrainians, or a closely related group together with the Rusyns of Slovakia and Transcarpathia. Their homeland lies west of the Boikos in the Oslawa river valley and west to border the Gorale Nadpopradcy and Szczawnicy. The Lemko region falls within the southernmost parts of Czerwona Rus' and Malopolska.

The Lemkos within Poland have five costume regions. I have written more in depth articles on each of these.

East Lemko

Centered on the village of Komancza 

 Central Lemko

 The central Lemko costume area lies from the valleys of the Ropa to the Jasiolka rivers.


 West Lemko, around Krynica

The West Lemko region lies in the upper reaches of the Biala river valley west to about the town of Krynica.


Central Poprad region or Venhryny Lemko / Rusyn

This costume is found on both sides of the Polish - Slovak border


Shliakhtova Lemkos

This group lived between the Black Gorals and the Szczawnica Gorals, and had essentially the same costume as the latter group. The men's costume is exceptionally highly ornamented.


 This concludes this overview of the Folk costumes found within the current borders of Poland. 
There are some regions in between the ones which I have mentioned where knowledge of the local costume is scarce, and which I have not covered. If anyone can send me more information, I would be glad of it. 

Thank you for reading, 

Roman K.





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  2. Thank you so much Roman for this particular page. I had asked you a few years ago about my parents, grandparents Villages and I see you posted them. I make traditional Folk Dolls and now I can make the larger ones in likeness of these costumes of Rzeszów and Lubaczow with more sureness on the western edge of Czerwona Rus close to the Carpathian Mountains. I appreciate and love how my family from this area has both qualities of Ukraine and Poland as those borderlands moved quite a lot from one country's ownership to the other and back again. I can see that in my grandmothers cooking especially and folk healing traditions.

  3. Thank you very very much for information about Polish folk. I am a Pole fascinated in a Slavic culture but it was hard to find that much in one place. Thanks!

  4. I cannot find the type of dress that y grandmother had. It has a white blouse with no embroidery with a black embroidered vest. What is different is the skirt. No apron. White skirt with bright colored ribbons sewn horizontally around the bottom. Do you know the region this is from? Thanks.

    1. That type of skirt was not used in Europe. It came into use only among the immigrant population who did not have access to the cloth of the old country. Hungarians, Polish and others did the same thing.