Hut from the region of Slobozhanshchyna

The hut, transported from the village of Kolyadivka of Luhansk region, represents Slobozhanshchyna, an ethnographic region that covers the eastern part of Ukraine, in particular modern Kharkiv region, south-eastern districts of Sumy region, north-eastern Dnipropetrovsk region, eastern Poltava region, northern Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

The name of this historical and ethnographic region arose during its intensive settlement (XVII-XVIII centuries). Migrants from Right- and Left-Bank Ukraine and from Russia, as well as numerous peasants who was running away from serfdom system enjoyed certain benefits there (“freedoms” or in Ukrainian “svobody”), founded settlements called “slobody”.

After the uprising of Bohdan Khmelnytsky, a large number of Cossacks and peasants moved to Slobozhanshchyna, founding new settlements there. Subsequently, the destruction of the Zaporozhian Sich provoked the next mass wave of settlement of the territory by the Cossacks.

Thus, the name of the village from which the hut was transported, “Kolyadivka” comes from the name of sotnik Kolyada (lieutenant of Cossack troops), who settled in this area in the 30s of the eighteenth century.

Housing construction

The building culture of Slobozhanshchyna combined the traditions of folk architecture brought by migrants from the Right- and Left-Bank Ukraine, but at the same time was directly dependent on local natural resources.

Malymonivka farm, where the hut was found, is located on the Yevsug River, the right bank of which is rich in deposits of white stone, called by locals as marl stone. Therefore, when constructing the buildings, marl was often combined with wood.

The hut consists of 4 parts: a living room, a cookhouse, an inner porch and a pantry with a stone brick cellar. Additional living space is a kitchen-dining room. This separation was made possible by the special design of the stove, which occupies the area of both rooms and is actually a separating wall. The stove is heated from the cookhouse, but heats both rooms.

Icon painting

Almost most of the icon-painting centers were located on the territory of Slobozhanshchyna in comparison with the rest of the ethnographic zones of Ukraine. During the eighteenth century, the icon-painting tradition developed in monastic workshops. However, at the end of the 19th century, the school at Hlynskyi monastery remained the only one of the existing monastic icon-painting centers.

Icons of the Starobilsk monastery workshop have delicately painted in tempera faces of saints, and mounting made of yellow, or red gold, lattin. The raiments of the saints are sewn, decorated with semiprecious stones and glass. There are icons with raiments on them embroidered. Icons and shrouds embroidered with beads, pearls and gold threads in combination with painting were very popular. Such icons were made to order in the workshops of the Starobilsky monastery and delivered to private collections in Moscow and Kyiv, in the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra.

In the icons of the Starobilsk monastery workshop, as well as the Svativka icon-painting center, the ancient Slobozhansk traditions of icon-painting were intertwined with the local ones, namely: color saturation, showiness, refinement of gestures, barely noticeable elongation of saints, slight deformation of contours and transparency of paints, especially in icons in kiots. Among other things, the exhibition shows two icons of the 19th century “Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God” and “The New Testament Trinity”, made for the needs of Starobilsky convent. The faces of the saints are depicted in tempera in yellow foil. The raiments of the saints are sewn from velvet, embroidered with beads, glass, pearls and semi-precious stones.   

Krolevets towel

A special place among the traditional folk crafts of Slobozhanshchyna is occupied by Krolevets weaving, which is not represented in other parts of the country, with a clear system of ornamental and compositional decoration. The Krolevets towel is characterized by a combination of white and red colors. On a white, rarely red background, between thick red parallel stripes, a rich ornament was woven. Ancient towels are completely covered with patterns. It was a background, and the ornament on it was created by non-woven white rectangles arranged in a chain, or in disorder, or in parallel lines. Weavers conveyed the world around them with the help of symbols: they represented the earth in a straight line, water in a wavy way, and fire in a cross. The main ornament of Krolevets is a flower tree motif.

Towels made with a unique double-sided pattern technique were rare among old towels. Since the end of the 19th century, this technique has hardly been used and towels have become one-sided.

Among the regional variety of Ukrainian towels, Krolevets stood out, first of all, for its unusual, original color scheme, its own rhythm of patterns, richness of ornaments, originality of forms, which became famous all over the world due to the combination of red and white.

It is not known exactly who and when first proposed such a color scheme, but most researchers of Krolevets weaving are inclined to believe that this choice was influenced by the natural and ethnographic features of the region.

Until now, the issue of depicting double-headed eagles on woven canvases remains controversial.

According to a local ethnographer, Anatoliy Karas, this is due to the territorial affiliation of Krolevets to the Chernihiv government, which had eagles on its coat of arms. Another version shows that the weavers thus confirmed their literacy and understanding of the royal money, which was used in Krolevets. On coins, as well as on towels, the heraldic eagle had a specific pattern, which numismatists called as “an eagle with outstretched wings”.

Clothing tradition

The traditional clothing of the women of Slobozhanshchyna consisted of an embroidered shirt, an apron called “zapaska” sleeveless jacket and a sheepskin jacket. At the end of the 19th century, skirts made of factory-made fabrics were mainly used in this region instead of traditional “plakhta” and “zapaska”. At the same time, shirts with a high standing embroidered collar, a patch on the armpit and embroidered cuffs appeared. And at the beginning of the XX century, under the influence of urban culture, shirts with a yoke with a large neckline and sleeves sewn to the yoke entered everyday life. The peculiarity of the embroidery of Slobozhansk shirts was the polychrome ornamentation, made with a half-cross and a small cross, sometimes with a coarse thread, which made them raised. Geometric and plant-geometrized patterns predominated.

Men’s shirts, both with a tunic-like cut and with inserts, were sewn from coarse linen home-woven fabric. The regional peculiarity was a shirt with a shoulder insert in the form of a triangular wedge, extended to the collar. The collar, sleeve cuffs and the tail of men’s shirts were embroidered with blue and red threads. The influence of the city was traced in the use of white chintz for making shirts with cuffs. The shirts were worn by young men along with colored handkerchiefs around their necks. The waist men’s clothes were trousers. The older generation wore striped or checkered home-made trousers, and young men’s trousers were made of black or brown fabric. There were also sharovary – free to hips linen trousers, collected at the bottom near the ankles and tucked into boots.

On holidays, the girls braided their hair not in three strands, but in twenty, and the bottom of the braid was interweaved with many ribbons of different colors. The girls wore a red or blue satin ribbon on their heads. The ribbons could also be made of black cotton velvet and embroidered with woolen threads; to the left side there was a flower attached. Multi-colored ribbons were sewn on it, hanging almost to the waist. But the most magnificent headdress was considered to be a silk or woolen scarf, on top of which many shiny pins were pinned down, flowers and peacock feathers were added. If a girl was going to get married, on top of a wide ribbon decorated with flowers of narrow ribbons, she wore two wreaths of flowers, one on top of the other.

Both men and women wore high-heeled boots with steel or copper horseshoes. Women’s boots had black, red, green or yellow boot-top.