Hutsul hut

Hutsul region (Hutsulshchyna) is an ethnocultural region located in the south-eastern part of the Ukrainian Carpathians, represented in the Ukrainian Village museum by a hut that was moved from the village of Bystrets of Ivano-Frankivsk region and was installed in the museum in 2007.

The hut is unwhitewashed and log, built of lopped spruce round wood. It has a three-celled planning (inner porch or “siny” + rooms + pantry) with a closed porch on the front side. The hut was built on a stone base of Carpathian flagstone.

The central facade faces two four-pane windows and two doors leading to the rooms and pantry, and there is a third door on the back wall. There are two wide fixed spruce benches, arranged under the windows and the right-side wall. To the left of the entrance one can see a traditional clay stove. The chimney and the stove are made of stone slabs and clayed. There is no ceiling in the rooms, which allowed the smoke coming out of the kiln to rise freely and out through the vents. The exposition of the hut is represented by more than 270 exhibits.

Choosing a place to live

When choosing a place to live, the proximity of pastures and water sources, protection from cold winds played for Hutsuls a crucial role.      

In addition, when choosing a place for a new home, Ukrainian highlanders took into account some folk beliefs. In particular, Hutsuls considered some place as lucky if they saw cattle lying down to rest or black ants living there. At the same time unlucky places were those inhabited by red ants, paths and crossroads, borders, sites of fire and rubble (“someone will die or get an injury”, “things will go wrong”). Often people resorted to another way to find their lucky place: they put bread on the ground where their hut was supposed to be and left it overnight. If the bread was in place in the morning, the place was considered as lucky. Otherwise, they had to look for another place to live. This method was used throughout the Ukrainian Carpathians, but in different areas had its own local characteristics. So, instead of bread, oatmeal or rye bread, flour or grain could be used. They were placed simply on the ground or in the corners of the base.

Also, Carpathian Ukrainians used water to determine the location of future housing. They poured water into a vessel, which was tightly covered and left on the site of their future hut. If the amount of water increased in three days, the construction works began. But if it remained unchanged or decreased, the hut was not supposed to be built in this place anymore, because it was believed that “farmer will do his best a whole year and there still will be a shortage”.

Similar signs, aimed at choosing and checking a place to live, were common for all Eastern Slavs. These magical actions foretold the future life in the new hut of the whole family – its happiness, well-being and health. They reflected the people’s ideas about the outside world and its development. However, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in the conditions of scarcity of land these signs were not given much importance. People built huts where they had land.

Glass icons

The exposition of the Hutsul hut presents icons painted on glass, which were spread in this area from the second half of the XIX century. Hutsul icons are characterized by a bright color with the use of five basic colors – burgundy and red, blue, yellow and white. The most common images in icon painting have long been Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary. There are also hagiographic icons with images of saints, especially revered in the region, who were credited with protective power. We present icons of the most popular saints for the Carpathian region, St. Nicholas and St. George the Victorious. The hut, which caught fire from lightning, had to be bypassed three times with the icon of St. Nicholas. It was believed that this was the only way to put out the fire sent as punishment for cursing in the hut or the sins of its inhabitants. And St. George in the Carpathians is the patron saint of livestock and protects herds from wolves and other plagues.

Sheep farming

The land of the Hutsul region is not rich in sown areas, so the main occupation of the Hutsuls was cattle and sheep breeding, and because of this they were especially concerned with the cattle that fed them. The flock of sheep is shepherded in the meadows, far from human settlements, from spring to autumn. The specific conditions of such farming (the vagaries of harsh weather, diseases and predators, as well as unscrupulous people who encroached on other people’s pastures and property) led to the fact that grazing and the farm life itself was shrouded in numerous magical prohibitions, precepts, superstitions and beliefs. The basics of sheep breeding were mastered in the field. It is passed down from father to son, from grandfather to grandson. Head herdsman used to be a wealthy man to pledge his property for the herds that were grazed in the meadow. He managed the seasonal farm life, was generally responsible for grazing, for his subordinates and the flock. His responsibilities also included processing milk. Most often, this honourable post was hereditary, that is, passed down from generation to generation.

Only people who managed to live in harmony with each other, had great physical strength and health were able to become shepherds. This was a guarantee that they could master hard work in difficult climatic and domestic conditions.

Shepherds were rewarded with both food and cash, as well as supported throughout the grazing season. Head herdsman and senior shepherds also received a pair of boots each month and the right to graze their own animals for free. 


The leading centers of pottery in Western Ukraine were Lviv, Potelych, Yavoriv, ​​Kolomyia, Pistyn, Uzhhorod, Mukachevo, and others. In Yavoriv, which is the smallest of them, 25 potters made household and holiday dishes, decorated with paintings, in 1765. The pottery production unit in Kolomyia was established in 1661. Each area of ​​pottery had its own artistic features of products, which depended on the natural qualities of materials, technological level of production, local traditions. Almost every center had its own leading masters with a bright creative personality.

In the XIX century Kosiv and Pistyn became the leading centers of pottery in the Hutsul region. The leading master was Oleksa Bakhmatyuk, who had been a student of the famous master Ivan Baranyuk from Moskalivka. Oleksa’s works have the colorful images of farmers, shepherds, soldiers and lords, musicians and butchers, millers, weavers and potters. The products became widely popular and during his lifetime Oleksa was recognized as a “genius master of pottery”. Thanks to Oleksa Bakhmatyuk, the Baranyuk family, Mykhailo Biletskiy the school of Kosiv ceramics arose and developed in the middle of the XIX century.

At the same time, the Pistyn School of Pottery was born, also associated with famous pottery families. Their products include painted bowls, plates,  cruses, decorative dishes. Plant patterns, combined with images of birds, deer and goats were dominant in the ornamentation.

Hutsul clothing tradition

The traditional clothing of the Hutsul region is quite bright among the clothes of other regions of Ukraine with its colors, ornaments, wide use of leather ornaments, colored cloth, metal jewelry, bright dyed woolen threads.

Men’s clothing set consists of a white linen or hemp shirt with a tunic-like cut, which is one of the oldest types. Embroidery decorated the collar or neckline. This shirt was worn over trousers and tied with “cheres”, a leather belt, which showed the status and wealth of the owner, but its main function was to support the man’s back during physically demanding work. In winter, men wore red dress pants called “gachi”, embroidered on the bottom or sides, in summer they wore linen ones called “porkenytsi”.

Women’s Hutsul outfit consists of a tunic-like shirt, brightly and richly decorated with embroidery, tied with a belt. Outdoor clothing included jackets called “serdak” and sleeveless jacket, sewn from sheepskin fur inside. They were brightly decorated with colored arrasenes, embroidery with woolen threads, appliques of different colors of leather, metal ornaments.

Hutsul blanket or “lizhnyk”

Until the end of the XIX century, the Hutsul blanket or “lizhnyk” was completely different than today. It was made of natural wool, up to five meters long. Such handiwork was called “dzherga” and was used as a sheet and a blanket at the same time, and small one could be put on a horse instead of a saddle. In the Hutsul region, there is a belief that “lizhnyk” attracts good to the family. So, at weddings, in addition to embroidered towels, bride and groom get Hutsul blanket under their feet.

In order to make a Hutsul blanket, one had to process the wool, straighten it, comb, strain the threads, and then weave the thing on a large machine. At the final stage, the blankets were beaten with water from the mountain streams that had been transformed by locals into waterfalls.  The blankets were placed in wood constructions and put at the very base of the waterfalls for two or three days. Thereby the fabric became denser and the product warmer. Previously, the blankets were not combed out, people began to do so relatively recently to give them a more beautiful, fluffy look.

Musical instruments of Hutsul region

Above the front door one can see trembita, a musical speciality of the Hutsul region. It is a folk wind instrument widespread in the mountainous regions of Romania, Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine, in particular, in the Hutsul region. It is made of spruce, which was struck by lightning, and traditionally was 3 meters long. The wood was cut in half, the core was removed, folded in two halves and usually wrapped in birch bark.

The trembita performed both a utilitarian function, revealing the movements of the shepherd with the flock, and a ceremonial one during weddings (inviting guests), holidays (“It’s not a carol, as there is no trembita”) or funeral.

Cymbals are also one of the most common folk musical instruments. The size of the deck of Hutsul cymbals reached 90 cm, and they are usually played while seated or need wearing of a special belt. The upper deck was made of spruce or, less often, fir, the lower one of maple. The strings used to be gut, and later metal.