Sunday, February 19, 2023

Embroidery of North L'viv Oblast, Ukraine

 Hello all, 

I recently received a request for costume material from the Kamianka-Buz'ka area of L'viw Oblast. This part of Ukraine, from Zhowkva to Brody has a very distinct style of embroidery which is little known. I will present the material that I have from the city of L'viw north, excluding the Sokal' and Rava Rusa districts. 

To begin, I have a handful of old photographs of the costume of this area which I present here. Somewhat frustratingly, all the people felt the need to put on overcoats for the photos. 

This couple is from the village of Stoyaniv in Kamianka-Buz'ka district. Google maps shows this village in the extreme north of L'viw Oblast, almost in Volyn'. It is possible that that is the wrong village, and there was one closer to Kamianka-Buz'ka, which no longer exists or had its name changed. Note the simple village style overcoats.

This group is from the town of Kulykiv, near Zhovkva. Town costume style is evident here. The man on the left is wearing an expensive brocade woven sash, and the man on the right is wearing a wide leather belt. 

This family is from the village of Berlyn, near Brody. Note the presence of abundant fancy trim on two of the coats. 

This couple is from the village of Pidhirtsi, south of Brody. Note again the simple overcoats, cut in a more southern style, with several gussets.

As interesting as these photos are, they do not show the embroidery which was presumably present. 

Let's take another look at the image at the head of the article. This shirt is typical of the region. Standard Halychyna cut with shoulder insert. Fold over collar. Cuffs attached to gathered sleeve. Relatively simple embroidery on the collar, cuffs, shoulder insets and upper sleeves, with wide emphatic joining stitch.

The primary palette here is black, not surprising since we are so close to the Sokal' region, with the addition of accents of red or as here, dark blue. The primary stitch used is counted satin stitch, with over cast stiches on the cuffs and collar. Taking a closer look at the joining stitch, we see that it is made in three parts. Both the upper sleeve and ustawka have something like a blanket stitch executed on their edges in black, with a joining stitch connecting their loops in blue.

 Here is a closeup that has been lightened, with the contrast exaggerated. 

This is similar to what Tania Diakiw O Neill calls Boikian Joining in her book "Ukrainian Embroidery Techniques" on page 127.

Blue is extremely rare in traditional Ukrainian embroidery. It is used as an accent along with many other colors in some Hutsul and Halychyna embroideries, indigo thread is used in Poltavian embroideries in the region of Hadiach, but is mostly unknown otherwise, especially such a dark shade. 

[Yes, you will see cross stitch embroideries done in light and dark blue, but this is a recent fad]

But this shade of dark blue seems to be an integral part of this region's embroidery. 

Here is another example, by a well known contemporary embroiderer, Mahdy Dzvin. Here we see many of the same elements. Relatively simple and narrow design. Black and dark blue counted satin stitch. She has made more extensive use of the joining stitch, and she used all black. She has customized the front opening of the shirt in an interesting but non traditional style, opting for no collar. Running stich and overcast blanket stitch are in evidence, as in our first example. 

Here is what seems to be the shoulder of a woman's shirt. Notice that here again, the joining stitch is done in both black and blue. The other characteristics of the design also align with this style.

Here is a modern style man's shirt using the same embroidery design.

Here is another example. Here the black and have been joined by green. There are more rows of embroidery, and there is no joining stitch used. The embroidery here is also present around the front opening. 

In this example we see an extremely small embroidery design all in black. 

This shirt features a standing collar and small amounts of red added to the design. Note that the composition of the embroidery on the shoulder is more complex, with several bands of ornament. 

Here is a sampler from the region which includes the design on the shoulder inset above which is not well visible in the photo.

Here is another example of shoulder embroidery. 

Here is another shirt from Zhowkva region. The motifs are smaller but are combined to make a larger composition.

Here are some graphs from L. Krawchuk's book "Ukrajinski Narodni Vyshywky L'viwska Oblast". She dedicated two plates to this region. 

The following are shoulder inset embroideries from Zhowkva region. 

The following are designs from a shirt collar from the Zhowkva region. 

Here is a design from a cuff of the Zhowkva region.

Here are some shoulder inset embroidery designs from Lypyna village near Brody. 

The following are collar and cuff designs from Lypyna village. 

Here is a sampler incorporating many of these designs. 

Here is a collection of small designs, many of which would be appropriate for this style of embroidery.

I would like to share a few more shirts which I took from the blog of Halyna Lishchynska. Dec 14. which are done in this style. These are modern shirts.

Over time, this style of embroidery has mostly been forgotten in the region, being replaced by larger, flashier, more colorful designs from other parts of Ukraine. But this is part of our heritage, and there is great understated beauty in this tradition. It deserves more recognition.

Thank you for reading, I hope that you have found this to be interesting and informative. I encourage you to try your hand at this style of embroidery if you are so inclined. 

Roman K