Sunday, May 26, 2019

The 6 types of Ukrainian Folk Costume

Hello All,
Today I will talk about the 6 general types of Ukrainian folk Costume. I have earlier referred to 5 types, but my more recent research has informed me that there are, in fact, 6. These costumes are distinguished by the type of women's lower body garment. The base, or foundation garment for all of these is the chemise, or sorochka. This was originally ankle length, and usually embroidered on the shoulder, upper sleeve, collar, cuffs, and often the hem. Traditionally, the sorochka hem was visible below the lower body garment. In more recent years, there has been a tendency to cut the chemise in half, and make the lower part into a separate garment.

1   Costume with Plakhta


The costume with plakhta was widespread in central, eastern and southern Ukraine, from about Cherkassy to the east. It had the same origin as the Russian poneva [paniova]. It is a woven rectangle of cloth wrapped around the hips from the back, and leaving a gap in front. Both have a woven in checkerboard pattern. In Russia, this pattern is very simple, usually consisting of white lines on a black background. Here is an example from around Tula.

The poneva is further ornamented with woven cloth sewn to the edge, as here, or with ribbons and galloons sewn on, and even with stripes of embroidery. Here is an example from Kaluga.

The Ukrainian plakhta is equally highly ornamented, but in a very different way. The individual squares or rectangles of the cloth have designs woven in, the colors varying from one square to the next.

The top of the plakhta may be folded over and sewn into a tube with a drawstring strung through it, like the poneva, but often two long pieces are sewn together side by side, as seen above, for a bit more than half its length.  The plakhta is folded over a sash tied around the waist, and the upper half falls over the lower. This is called plakhta with wings, and is the original form. 

Note that sometimes other types of overskirt are mistakenly called 'plakhta', but this is incorrect. This is the only garment which is properly referred to as plakhta.

2 Costume with Obhortka.

The obhortka is also sometimes called 'horbotka', 'fota', 'opynka', or 'derka'. 'Obhortka' means 'that which is wrapped around'. This consists of a rectangle of heavy cloth which is wrapped around the hips from behind, overlaps in front, and is held in place by a sash. This is found in Podillia, Pokuttia, Bukovyna, Bessarabia, and also in Eastern Romania; Moldavia and Muntenia. Here is an example of a wedding couple from Mușcel, Argeș County, Muntenia, România. This image is sometimes presented as Ukrainian. It is not.

The Obhortka also has woven in ornament, but generally fine lines vertically, and also around the edges. The base color is often black, but in eastern Pokuttia it is brick red.

In Bukovyna as well as in Muntenia there may be more overt ornamentation on the overlap.


This garment is often worn with one or both corners pulled up and tucked into the waist. It is usually worn without an apron, but in some regions an apron is worn.

In central Ukraine, a simple wrap-around skirt called derka was often worn as working attire.

3 Costume with double apron.


While the plakhta is technically a back apron, it is not included in this type, but considered to be a separate type of costume. While there are written records of double apron costumes being worn in central Ukraine, none have survived. The Hutsul region is the only place in which this costume has survived to modern times in Ukraine. It is also found in western Romania; Transylvania, Banat and Oltenia. The two aprons are woven with fine horizontal lines, and vary in color from almost black, in Zhabie,  to bright orange, in Kosmach.

You will see Ukrainian performing groups using the double apron in stage costumes intended to portray central Ukraine. It is my opinion that this should be discouraged. Here is the performing group Vyshnia, who sing quite well. There are other details of the costume which are incorrect, although they are attractive and recognizably Ukrainian.

4 Costume with a skirt

These are the costumes which include an actual skirt with a waistband. They are found in the traditional costumes of the north and west. In addition, they started to spread in the east of Ukraine in the 19th cent, replacing the plakhta in some locations, as they were easier to make. The above images show examples of this.

The following images show traditional skirts from different regions of Ukraine

Chernyhiw, the embroidered skirt called andarak.

Polissia  woven linen skirt.

On the right we see a home woven skirt of wool. This kind was also worn in Volyn'.

This skirt was made in Polissia of bought cloth.


Halychyna  This is a linen home woven and printed skirt from around Horodok.

Halychyna. This is a home woven wool skirt called shorts from Yavoriw area.

Halychyna. These girls are from around Rava Rusa, wearing skirts of bought cloth.

Opillia. This is a linen home woven and printed skirt from around Drohobych.

Boiko. These are home woven and embroidered skirts which are part of the traditional dress attire of the Boikos.

Lemko.  These are skirts of bought cloth from various parts of Lemkovyna.

This is the costume of the Shliakhtova Lemkos. In the first image they have erred in putting the man's vest on the female mannequin, but it is correct otherwise.

Transcarpathia. Marmorosh region

Transcarpathia. region around the villages of Cherna and Novoselytsia.

Transcarpathia. region around Uzhhorod.

5 Costume with single apron.

These last two costumes have the smallest areas in which they are found. While it often happened that women working in the fields would wear just a chemise and apron, the single apron costume was worn as dress attire only in the central lowlands ofTranscarpathia, in the regions around Irshava and Khust, and as far east as Teresva.


Khust region. In this area the apron is very wide, going almost all the way around the waist, and is called plat.

6. Costume with a skirt and bodice.

While the 5th costume is restricted to one small area, this costume is found in odd islands in southern Podillia and eastern Polissia in Ukraine. It is called variously talijka, riklia, or sharafan. It is a bodice with an attached skirt. This type of costume is common in western Europe and Scandinavia, in Bulgaria, and among some of the Hungarians in Mezoseg, Transylvania. None of these appears to be a likely source for this garment appearing in sporadic places in Ukraine.

Toporivtsi, Bukovyna.

In this village this garment is called riklia. It was apparently once more widespread in Bukovyna, but now appears only in this one village as part of the wedding costume. In other parts of Bukovyna the bodice has disappeared and the gathered skirt is called riklia by itself. This is a wedding couple from Toporiwtsi in the 1940's.

Here are a couple of older shots of this garment.

It is possible that this garment was borrowed from German or Hungarian settlers in the area.

Kamianka - Kodyma region.

This region forms the southernmost part of Podillia. Part of this area lies in northern Odessa oblast, and the other part lies over the border in Transdnistria, once part of Moldavia. In this region the garment is called sharafan.


Zhytomyr - Chernyhiw - Novhorod Syvirskyj

This garment is found in pockets through eastern Polissia. Here it is called talijka. Again it is formed as a bodice with attached gathered skirt. It is not cut like a Russian Sarafan.

And that concludes this article. I have not included city costume or costumes of the aristocrats, each of which are a separate tradition.

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

Roman K.



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  2. These are beautiful costumes.. Great post

  3. Дякую! Чудова публікація.

  4. Merci ! J'ai beaucoup appris !

  5. Very informative, very beautiful

  6. very informative and beautiful. Have you any information on how to make any of these clothing please? we would like to recreate some of the costumes.