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Cultural Traces Around the World

The Wonderful Crafts of Ukraine

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One of the most famous artistic traditions of Ukraine is the decorative painting style known as Petrykivka painting. This painting style was originally a form of local indigenous art practiced by the Zaporozhian Sich people. Originally, the style was practiced mainly by women who were inclined to paint the interior walls of their family dwellings with large-scale decorative murals consisting of rich patterns depicting flowers, fruits, and plants, sometimes alongside animal-people and humans. Flower types most often featured in the paintings were asters, dahlias, roses, and chamomile. In 2013, the art form was included on the Representative List of UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

In the 16th Century, the country had ten “epicenters” of pottery creation, and the city of Opishne in the Poltava region became known as the country’s “Pottery Capital.” At the beginning of the 20th Century, almost 1,000 potters resided in the city. Part of what makes the Opishne pottery creations so unique is that craftspeople do not draw sketches of their designs, so it is believed that no two items are alike.

Toy-making is another extraordinary craft of Ukraine. Families make toys for their children from twigs, straw, grass, and even dough! One toy that can be found in every region of Ukraine is the Motanka, a handmade doll that is a symbol of women’s wisdom and family bonds.

In the mid-1700s, the city of Krolevets became known as one of the most prominent artistic weaving centers in Ukraine. The most famous folk craft to come from the town is the Krolevets woven towel, which still holds cultural significance to this day in traditional wedding ceremonies. In engagement and wedding ceremonies, Ukrainians used a Rushnyk to tie the hands of the couple and was worn by the most important wedding guests.

Wood carving has been an artistic endeavor in Ukraine since ancient times and was passed down from generation to generation for hundreds of years. The large-scale woodcarvings artistically crafted to create iconostases in some historical Ukrainian churches are truly marvelous. Some of the most beautiful examples can be seen in the Cathedral of Our Savior’s Transfiguration and the St. Job Church, both in Pochayiv Lavra, the medieval St. George Church in Pereiaslav Scansen, and St. Andrew’s Church in Kyiv.

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