Hutsuls And Their Embroideries

Hutsuls or Huculs, a group of Ukrainian highlanders, live in the Carpathian mountains, to the South-East of the Boykos, a region bordering on the territory of the Romanians. They differentiate themselves from the surrounding Slavic peoples by physiognomy, and by their traditional culture of clear Romanian origin, with Balkan influences, visible in garb, traditions, and architecture, all very much different from the Slav world. Their traditional occupations were forestry, logging, cattle and sheep breeding. Thus, they have created a race of horses, known as the Hutsul or Hucul pony. Hutsuls are also widely known for their handicraft: wood carving, brassworks, rug weaving, pottery, and egg decorating. Hutsul music is represented by original, much appreciated instruments: the "trambita" (a type of alpenhorn of Dacian origin, to be found only with Hutsuls and Romanians), and multiple varieties of the flute (sopilka), used to create unique folk melodies and rhythms. Hutsul embroidery is a unique phenomenon in the artistic culture of the Ukrainian people, bearing the imprint of the old Russian culture. Over the centuries, a complex process of crystallization of artistic traditions and styles took place. Hutsul embroidery preserves ancient magic motifs and symbols, gradually simplifying ornamental richness. Its study helps understand complex relations and mutual influences, as well as the local specific traits of the traditional culture of the population inhabiting the Carpathian and the Balkan areas. The artistic wealth of Hutsul embroidery springs from various artistic characteristics, the outcome of concrete historical, geographic, and socioeconomic conditions. The land of the Hutsuls was once famed for special embroidery schools and centers in the villages of Kosmaci, Rahiv, Yiavoriv, Putyla, Vijnitsa. Besides common features, the embroideries coming from these localities boast local elements of ornament, coloring, and manufacturing technique. Embroidery is a way of life with Hutsuls. You find it adorning men's, women's, and children's clothes – shirts, coats, belts, shawls – and also on towels, curtains, church banners, etc. A typical feature of the Hutsul embroidery is the geometrical ornament (rhombus, triangle, rectangle), in various techniques. The color range features brightly hot red, green, yellow, and black. As a rule, Hutsul embroideresses show their skill in achieving detachable ornaments. They are very strict in selecting and making the patterns. Once the ornament is chosen and thought out in detail, the embroideress sketches the motif, or works on it with black thread. Thus, she draws up the contours. When "the sketch" is ready, she fills in the fields with threads of traditional colors. The Hutsuls have been very protective of their sewn heritage, which accounts for the fact that even today there exist extraordinary masterpieces of folk ornamental art. Nonetheless, in the 1930s new styles emerged, and geometric embroideries made room to floral motifs, the most used being roses, vine, peonies. Today, new versions are used, in combinations of old patterns, yet the old traditional type of embroidery still takes pride of place.

by Anonymous