Monday, December 5, 2022

Floral Embroidery of Northeastern Podillia, Ukraine


Hello all,
Anyone who has tried to do systematic research on Folk Costume knows that there are annoying regions from which little to no information seems to be available. I have always been frustrated with researching Podillia. People tell me 'but there is lots of published information about Podillia'. This is true, but almost all of of it concentrates on SOUTHERN Podillia. These books focus on Borshchiw, Zalishchyky, and the rest of Podnistrovia, the region that borders the Dnister river, down to Kodyma. This region is amazingly rich in embroidery and costume culture, but once you get to the central and northern parts of Podillia, there is very little material. Actually the northern parts of Ternopil' and Khmel'nytskyj oblasts really belong to Volyn, culturally. 
So today I will talk about a costume and embroidery type which I have occasionally seen images of, usually without provenance, but the few instances in which I have information about origin, show that this outfit was worn in central Khmel'nytskyj and Vinnytsia Provinces. The costume region extends at least as far west as Zastawtsi, Khme'mytska Oblast north to Voronivtsi, east to Chovnovytsia and south to Khomenky, all in Vinnytsia Oblast. It is also found in the southernmost parts of Zhytomyr oblast, in Ruzhyn district.

When East Podillia costume is mentioned, we usually think of this.

Beautiful geometric embroidery, often executed in nyz, or darning stitch. Usually in black, or with black and red stripes, a row of embroidery at the bottom of the shoulder inset, another, at the top of the sleeves, and rows of embroidery down the front. This costume is found in a wide swath across southern Khmel'ytsyj and Vinnytsia Provinces. 

Further north, the geometric design seems to be mostly replaced by floral ones, of more recent origin. Here are images of a couple of sorochkas from Zastawtsi village, Starokostyantynivskyj raion, Khmel'netska Oblast. 

Wide, fold over collars, floral embroidery in wide bands down the front, wide cuffs, floral embroidery on the sleeves in two rows. 
These sleeves seem to have the shoulder inset and sleeves cut as one piece, as most of these images show no seam on the upper sleeve. 

The sleeve embroidery seems to most commonly be arranged in two rows, similar to that of southern Podillia. The top row is solid, and the second row is a row of large separate groupings. 
Here is another sorochka of the same type supposedly from Yarishiw village, Mohyliw district. I question whether this is correct, as the image on the opposite page is from that district, and is very typically south Podillian. Or perhaps this type of embroidery was also sometimes found in the south. 

The floral embroidery, unlike that found in most other places in Ukraine, often did not have borders. This outfit was worn with a skirt having tucks in the center, often a contrasting band at the hem, and a sash. 

Many times the outfit is shown without an apron. 

This one is from the village of Khomenky, Sharhorod raion, Vinnytsia Oblast. 

Here is an example of a sorochka from Strutynka village, not far from Vinnytsia itself. Note that this does not have cuffs, rather the ends of the sleeves are smocked, and embroidery is done over the pleats. Also the upper part of the sleeves are attached to the body by a colorful joining stitch. Both of these details are often found in south Podillia. 

This sorochka is from the village of Chovnovytsia, Oratiw district, in eastern Vinnytsia Oblast. Notice there is no embroidery on the fold over collar, front, or hem.  

Here are a couple of outfits from Derhanivka village, Ruzhyn district, Zhytomyr Oblast. This is just over the border.

This outfit is from Voronivtsi village, in northern Vinnytsia Oblast. 

This photo is from Skala

Here is a performing group from Nove Misto. 

This photo is just labelled East Podillia, but shows this same basic costume. 

This sorochka is simply labelled central Vinnytsia. Notice that this is executed in satin stitch, and has a seam between the shoulder inset and the sleeve. 

The following sorochky I do not have an origin for, but it seems clear that they belong to this same general region. Both of these have a 'collar' which is just smocking and embroidery over the pleats. This first one has satin stitch embroidery in a single row. 

This second one has polychrome cross stitch in two rows. 

I will close with a series of photos taken at an exhibition of Podillian Folk Art. I think that it is clear that they belong in this same general costume group. 

In this photo the two mannequins on the left are wearing outfits from Southern East Podillia. The rushnyks on the wall are executed in South East Podillia Embroidery. 

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

Roman K. 



  1. Thank you for filling the gap a little bit. It is interesting to see the differences. Is the terrain between the two regions quite different? Or is it just people in the north doing their own thing?
    Charlotte in California

    1. Most of Podillia is an upland plateau. I think the opposite may be true, that the region along the Dnister was a coherant region of its own, it would include Bukovyna and Pokuttia on the south bank.

    2. Thank you. I do appreciate your efforts to make the regional differences clear although I think I need to invest in some more maps! Charlotte in California

  2. Thank you for this fascinating travel.

  3. Impressive pictures. Have you heard about Adelle Le Barbier. He is very professional barber and I would recommend him to you and you should visit him for hair cut.

  4. Thank you for this article - very interesting. I have just been reading a book about pre-historic textiles which included some ideas about tassels and their persistence I'm folk costume; I noticed the fringed ends to the hanging tapes.

  5. What a beautiful work of embroidery digitizing. Love that Floral embroidery work of Northeastern Podillia... Its amazing. Thank you.

  6. What is the big belt like things that the men wear around waist

  7. Here is a general health care checklist that may be important for you: Regular check-ups with a primary care physician: This includes annual physical exams and screenings for things like blood pressure, cholesterol, and cancer. Vaccinations: Vaccinations are important for preventing serious illnesses and diseases. Dental check-ups: Regular dental check-ups can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Eye exams: Regular eye exams can detect vision problems and eye diseases. Mental health: Regular mental health check-ups are important for maintaining overall well-being. Exercise and healthy eating: Regular physical activity and a healthy diet can help prevent chronic diseases and maintain overall health.Stay informed about your health: Keep track of your health records, medications and any allergies you have. Be aware of any family history of illnesses: Knowing your family medical history can be helpful in identifying potential health risks.