Recently I have been researching a lot of the folk crafts of Ukraine. Folk craft is deeply embedded in Ukranian life and history. Artistic styles, motifs and designs have been handed down from generation to generation. Often, the crafts have emerged from the general needs of housholds. But there is a deeply spiritual connection as well. The creativity and love of beauty of the the Ukranian people is evident in their use of bright colors and simple designs. The practical use of pottery has been evident since the Neolithic Age. Clay is an abundant natural resource in the Ukraine, and a wide variety of plates, bowls, jugs, and even children's toys are produced in three different villages, Opishne, Kosiv, and Bubnivka. As a matter of fact, Opishne, an ancient Cossack town, is known as the "pottery capital" of Ukraine and is world famous. Pottery here has been evolving for three millenia.. By the late 19th century, countries from all over the world were sending representatives to purchase these unique and colorful pieces. Both everyday and frstive utensils are decorated with rizhkuvannia, which is ceramic painting, or fliandrivka, painting on wet pottery. The designs are usually floral and often include stylized images of animals, grasshoppers, lions, bulls, etc. Textured stucco and colorful glazes add to the beauty. The brightness, variety of shapes, and textures provide a unique end product which often takes 30 40 days to manufacture.
Petrykivka painting is a Ukranian unique ornamental style of the 19th - 21st centuries. It takes its name from the tiny village of Petrykivka, where it originated. Peasants painted their huts with rich floral designs and murals in the hope that they would ward off evil. These drawings were not designed to be permanent but would be whitewashed several times of the year to celebrate significant religious holidays. Usually the women of the family were responsible for creating the new designs. Paper renditions became very popular at the local fairs which Petrykivka constantly hosted. At first, these paintings were created with natural paints created by the artists themselves. In more modern times, gouache and watercolor became much more common.
In 2012, the Petrykivka painting was recognized as part of the Representative List of the
Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
As the Russian invasion of Ukraine contnues to upend life in this nation, many incredibly beautiful and priceless pieces of Ukranian cultural history have been destroyed. The Ivankiv Historical and Local History Museum was burned by Russian forces. This museum housed the works of many Ukranian artists, both past and present. One of my favorite folk artists, Maria Prymachenko, was one of the most famous exhibitors at ths museum. Twenty five of her paintings featuring mythological folklore figures in radiant gouache colors were destroyed. Born in 1909, she died in 1997 at the age of 88. She was officially named the People's Artist of Ukraine and was called a national hero. 650 of her works are located in the National Museum of Ukranian Folk Applied Art in Kyiv, which is only about 50 miles northwest of the burned museum.
In the midst of so much suffering, displacement, and death, I know that the loss of cultural works can not compare with the loss of life. But it is heartbreaking, nevertheless.
Prymachenko's paintings reflected her love of her country. In them she visualized a peaceful future for the Ukrainian people.