Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Western Boiko Costume


Hello all, 
Today I would like to talk about a costume that has mostly disappeared. This costume was found between the Lemko lands and the current Polish/Ukrainian border. Most villages near the border did not wear this costume, but rather were part of the Sambir, Turka, or Liuta costume areas in present day Ukraine. It may have been worn in that part of Boikoland which today lies in Slovakia, but I have no information from that region, so I cannot say. Many maps and sources show Boikiwshchyna starting at the current Ukrainian border, but this is not the case. Here is a map showing the approximate range of the west Boiko costume. 

These Boiki were forcibly resettled by Operation Wisla in 1946, in the same way that the Lemkos were. I will be relying mostly on old photographs to describe this costume. 

The photo above was taken in the village of Berehy Horishni. Береги Горішнi, [Brzegi Górne] in 1937, probably by Roman Reinfuss, who researched the traditional culture of the Carpathians. This photo gives a good idea of what this costume looked like. Like other Boiko costumes it features a chemise in ustawka cut, with embroidery on the shoulder, cuffs, front, and probably collar. It also includes a linen skirt and apron of two fields joined together. Both skirt and apron often had a row of embroidery near the hem.  The embroidered smocking which is so typical of Boiko costumes further east seems not to be present. The skirts were smocked into the waistband, which cannot be seen in this photo. The women are also wearing kerchiefs and beaded gerdany. The distinctive feature of this costume is the short vest, a couple of versions of which are visible in this photo, waist length, worn  closed with lappets, or open without lappets. This is from the influence of their Lemko neighbors, but the Boikos, typically, use minimum ornamentation. 
Nothing can be seen of the mens' dress in this photo except their modern style caps. 
In general, their attire was very plain, linen shirt and pants of linen or wool, depending on the weather, wool vests, jackets, overcoats, and in some villages they wore the chuha. 

Both men and women often went barefoot, or put on footcloths and moccasins [khodaky], rarely could they afford boots. 

I will show images from different villages, starting at the southeast and moving west and north. I encourage you to look up the location of these villages. 

The following images are also from Berehy Horishni. This man has some embroidery on his collar and shoulders. He has his shirt tucked in. 

This man was obviously well off, as he could afford a sheepskin coat and boots. 

Here we can see the typical Boiko smocking of the skirt into the waistband on the woman at left. 

This woman is showing off a typical Boiko overcoat with deep pleats at the waist. 

Vetlyna, Ветлина, [Wetlina]

These two women are dressed as bride and bridesmaid.

Here you can see that the center of the sleeves was gathered into the shoulder piece, without, however, being smocked. The shoulder embroidery was done in red and blue cross stitch. Here are a couple of examples from a little further south, the villages of Liubna, Kichernyj, and Verkhovyna Bystra. While these villages are actually across the border in Transcarpathia, you can see that the style of embroidery is the same. 


This photo shows the harvest of oats. Note the embroidery on the shoulder of the man on the left. 

Struboviska Струбовиська  [Strzebowiska]

Here we see two women in work clothing raking hay.

Now we are moving north and zigzaging east, so as to move west once again. 

Dvernyk Дверник [Dwernik]

Note the pleated skirts and aprons, none of the other villages from which I have photos do this. 

Tvorylne Творильне [Tworylne]

 These photos are taken from a vidpust [revival meeting] in the village. Note that some women are wearing the waist length vest, and others are wearing a somewhat longer vest which is typical further east. 

Here we see our first example of a Boiko man wearing a chuha. 

Khrevt Хревт [Chrewt]

This village lies further to the northeast. The chuha, which is more typically a Lemko garment,  was worn by men in the northern part of this region. Note the vests on the women have a cut between that of the southern regions and that of the Turka region. 


Mychkiw Мичків [Myczków]

This outfit is found in the village museum of Mychkiw. Note that the woman's costume shows city influence in the use of bought materials. 

Volia Matiashova Воля Матіяшова [Wola Matiaszowa]

Zhernytsia Nyzhnia Жерниця Нижня  [Żernica Niżna]

Balyhorod [Baligrod]

We have one drawing by Kul'chytska from this village, which seems to show city costume influence.

Kal'nytsa near Balyhorod, [Kalnica near Baligrod]

This man is also wearing a chuha.

Serednie Vielkie Середнє Велике  [Średnie Wielkie]

Hichva Гічва [Hoczew]

This village lies on the northern edge of Boiko territory. In this photo we see two women preparing for a wedding. They both are wearing white skirts and aprons with contemporary cutwork embroidery. 

Here is a photo of some official visiting a Boiko school in this region. The exact location is unknown to me. 

Lemko / Boiko Transitional Region.

There is a region which lies outside of the Boiko area according to the map at the head of the article. This includes the villages of Polonna [Plonna], Kuliashne [Kulaszne] and Kozhushne [Kożuszne]. This region lies northeast of Komancha, and northwest of the Boiko region. Reinfuss calls this the Lemko / Boiko transitional region, and took several photographs there. Influences from both groups are obvious in the costume. 

Here are a few photos which are supposed to be of a visit of "Lemkos from Eastern Lemkovyna" to Krakow in 1936. I do not know exactly where they were from, but the costume resembles the ones I am covering today. I find it interesting that the men are wearing the rogatowka, the four corned Polish hat. 

Here are a few photos from Boiko museums in Poland, many from the one in Mychkiw. Some of the outfits shown are of this type, others show clear influence of Halychyna Town costume. The short vests became more ornamented in later years as this became popular in Poland. 

Thank you for reading, I hope that you have found this to be interesting and informative. This Boiko costume is one which is often overlooked and rarely heard about. We should remember this region.

Roman K.

email: rkozakand@aol.com

Source Material: 

Swiat Bojkow, Andrzej Karczmarzewski, Rzeszow 2014

Karpacki Swiat Bojkow i Lemkow, Roman Reinfuss, Olszanica 2016

Western Boikos Folk Costumes, Natalia Klyashtorna, Ivano-Frankiwsk, 2017

and various places on the web. 

1 comment:

  1. I stumbled onto your blog when I was looking for information on nyzynka. (I started with Ukraine, found an article on Wikipedia about Ukranian Embroidery which only mentioned the technique, so I went looking!) I am a student of the History of Embroidery, but have only skimmed the surface of regional variations. Your blog is an incredible resource! I am so glad that your blog is still active! Thank you!

    I am in Tennessee, so I do not have access to many of the sources that you do. Assisi work actually began in the 16th century. There are many pattern books from the 16th century that still exist as well as many pieces in museums.

    There is a similar technique called Reserva work from Spain. It seems to often be done in black or blue. I have been able to find almost no information on this technique. If you need something to research ... 😀 ... see if you can find out anything about Reserva work.

    I appreciate your blog so much!