The art traditions of Ukrainian weaving

Weaving has played an important role in the life of the Ukrainian people.

The art traditions of Ukrainian weaving were formed during the process of age-long creative endeavours of the people, bestowing on this form of folk art an inimitable national character. Together with unity of style, Ukrainian weaving is greatly diversified as to colouring, manner of execution, material and character of the ornamental patterns.

Fabrics were previously divided into clothing and household fabrics, depending on their use. Flax, hemp and wool yarn, natural or dyed with local vegetable dyes, were used for weaving of fabrics. Depending on the purpose for which it was to be used, fabrics were embellished with various ornaments, and woven by means of different techniques. In the central areas of the Ukraine, a popular form of woman’s garment was a skirt (plakhta) held by a girdle. These skirts were woven from varicoloured woollen yarn, mainly by the method of cross-weaving, and were ornamented with geometrical patterns arranged in squares. The folk craftsmen demonstrated their rich imagination and inventiveness in the ornamentation of the plakhta, creating numerous remarkable patterns. In Po-dilya and in the western regions of the Ukraine the skirt was of one colour or striped, supplemented with brightly coloured aprons, and it was called zapaska. The plakhtas and zapaskas were worn with girdles which varied greatly in size, ornamentation and colour pattern.

An interesting group of fabrics is that of woven towels used to decorate the dwellings and on solemn occasions. The towels (made of high-quality white and red yarn) were woven by means of the cross-weaving technique, which was applied to produce a great variety of ornamental patterns: stars, birds, geometrical figures, tree branches and flowers.

Woven towels, checked skirts (plakhtas) varying in colour and pattern, striped skirts (zapaskas), multicoloured girdles, women’s chemises with woven-in red geometrical ornamental patterns, bed-sheets, kerchiefs and other articles of clothing of the XVIII — XIX centuries on show in the exposition of the pre-Soviet period, give a complete idea of the weaving art in various Ukrainian regions during this period.

The art of artistic weaving is being successfully developed by contemporary folk craftsmen, whose work is widely exhibited in the section of the Soviet period.

Proceeding from national traditions the folk craftsmen create new decorative fabrics which play an important role in the decorative embellishment of rural and urban residential and public buildings. Thus, on motifs of ornaments of plakhtas, the Dihtyari weavers have created a variety of cotton and artificial silk fabrics.

Curtains, decorative sofa cushions, table-cloths, produced by the craftsmen of the Factory “The 8th of March” (village of Dihtyari) Paraska Oleksandrenko, Maria Nelipa and others are distinguished by their decorative qualities and bright colours.

The craftsmen have demonstrated a thorough knowledge of their material, its qualities and possibilities.

Original woven goods are produced by the “Peremoha” (“Victory”) Factory (Boguslav, Kiev Region)  — carpets, bench covers, table-cloths, bed spreads, curtains and the traditional Boguslav towels. They represent the wealth of composition that can be achieved by skilful combination of the simplest geometrical elements of the ornament, the nature of which is conditioned by the weaving technology. Warm tints predominate in the colour scheme of the Boguslav goods, which in conjuction with black against a white or cream-coloured background, produce a beautiful colour harmony.

The secret of the success of the works of Ivan Nechiporenko, Grvgory Andzhievsky, Sergyj Nechiporenko and other artists lies in this simplicity and inventiveness.

Skilfully combining the cross-weaving and “selecting” techniques the craftsmen of the Twentieth Anniversary of October-Factory (Krolevets, Sumi Region) Ivan Dudar, Hanna Kashuk, Hanna Shabelnik and others achieved fine results in the decoration of towels, table-cloths, napkins, curtains, etc., with floral and geometrical ornamental patterns.

The section of Soviet period weaving also exhibits woven carpets, bench-covers, carpet-strips, pillow covers and aprons distinguished by the originality and bright colour combinations of the ornamental patterns produced by the Kosiv folk artists Roman Horbovv, Olga Horbova, Maria Bovich.

The woven goods displayed in the Museum furnish persuasive evidence of the successful development of contemporary art of hand weaving.


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