Examples of an ancient and symbolic handcraft, designed and showcased in modern-day Ukraine. This is traditional embroidery. The styles of folk dress date back centuries; the colours, patterns and type of stitching - past down -from generation to generation. Now, a new exhibition in Kyiv aims to celebrate this distinctive part of Ukrainian culture - and the designs - which make anyone wearing it instantly recognisable around the world.
This is traditional Ukrainian costume. Since the EuroMaidan Revolution in 2014, it's become popular, not only in Ukraine, but in fashion shows around the world. But this new exhibition has opened in Kyiv looking at one of Ukraine's most famous embroiders Yevhenia Henig.
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Yevhenia Henig is the embroidery maestro of her age. Her work is a popular template for beginners and experts, looking to pick up the needle and fabric once again.
At the exhibition opening, a recording of Yevhenia celebrating her recent 90th birthday - the passion for embroidery - the love for her heritage- still visible in her eyes. Within the audience, a few tears - a reminder perhaps - of how the distinctive dress makes people - both feel and understand - what it really means to be Ukrainian. Svitlana Dolesko, from the Centre of Ukrainian Culture and Arts - where the exhibition is being hosted - explains what Yevhenia personally means to her.
Svitlana Dolesko, Centre of Ukrainian Culture And Art General Director: "For me, Yevhenia is a memory from my childhood. When I used to embroider these folk ornaments, I thought they had existed in the world for a long time. I used to embroider, then wear them. I have vyshyvankas, napkins and decorative towels. But as I got older, I realised these ornaments have a kind of mother, an author. They are not just folk ones. There's still a living person who creates them."
Among the popular traditional clothing is vyshyvanka, a type of traditional Ukrainian shirts. But there's more – there's ties and decorative bracelets as well. But this hasn't always been the case. Earlier on, we spoke with one visitor Lyuba who told us how, during the Soviet times, these traditional styles were forced underground."
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Lyuba Rudenko, exhibition visitor: "I'm so sorry that we don't have even a little piece left because in Soviet times, everything national or traditional was considered to be old fashioned. The Soviet power and the regime didn't consider it something special or valuable because they wanted to uproot this period of the Ukrainian nation and that is a tragedy. And my mother, she was a communist…she buried her mother in a vyshyvanka – the most beautiful costume."
Nowadays, Ukrainian dress style is relatively indistinguishable from other European nations. But with the vyshyvanka, each intricate design is unique, as one visitor Dmitry told us.
Dmitry Yerenov, exhibition visitor: "Specialists, they can tell by the design, every single region of Ukraine. So, for example, if there is a geometrically ornamentation, its closer to the west, if there's floral ornaments, it's the middle of Ukraine, somewhere in Poltava or Cherkasy region, if there are some animals, its closer to the south, to Crimea – so really specialists can tell."
Also on display - a selection of embroidered religious icons and paintings, prominent in the Orthodox Catholic Church. These form part of an iconostasis, each one framed in wood rather than the common gold. It's these sorts of handcrafts from the ancient Slavic times that makes Ukrainian culture so well known around the world.
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The Google system refuses me permission to put this under the original poster's comment, so I will try to put it thru this way.
Here is my translation of SVITLANA DOLESKO's comment from Mar.11,2016 :
Tom Bell's report is a shining example of quality journalism ! From myself personally, from the co-workers of the Centre of Ukrainian Culture and Artistry, from Mrs. Eugenia Henyk a HUGE THANKS (to him) for (his) presentation of the topic, for understanding its importance, and for that so-important human quality of caring.
Репортаж Тома Белла – це яскравий приклад якісної журнальчикістики!
Від для себя особисто, від колективу Центру Української Культури та Мистецтва, від пані Євгенії Геник ВЕЛИЧЕЗНА ПОДЯКА за сюжет, за розуміння цінності такої справи, і за неймовірно важливу нині людську небайдужість!
Beautiful, fascinating, and amazing. This revival in interest in traditional Ukrainian embroidery is also a good sign of Ukraine's 'new independence' from Russian influences wanting to suppress Ukraine's distinctive cultures in every area so that Ukraine and Russia would be indistinguishable. This 'cultural war' against Ukraine and Ukrainians by Russians has been waged since 'forever'. NOW Ukraine has again some chance of being free. And Russian speakers in Ukraine must learn to speak Ukrainian if they love Ukraine... that's another matter.
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