Culture of the Ukrainian people
Material culture of the Ukrainian people
The oldest exhibits in the Pfrevaslav-Khmelnytsky Open-Air Museum of Ethnography are stone images of Scythian warriors dating back to the 7th century В. C. Setlled on the Black Sea side of the Ukraine. Hie Scythians produced unique handcrafted articles and were especially good at metalwork. You can see this for yourself at the exhibition, which displays a helmet, arrow heads and bracelets. One oi the most valuable treasures is the bronze festive bowl of the Scythian tsars (5th с. В. C.) which was found in the village of Pishchane. Zolotonosha district Cherkassy region Graceful in form the bowl has decorative handles and three legs shaped like fabled animals. There were many contenders (or the right to keep this invaluable treasure, at present it is in the Pereyaslav Museum.
In 1966 during construction work in the territory of the Museum of Ethnography on the slopes of the Popivka River,
A Chernyakhivska culture dwelling (2nd 4th century A. D.) was excavated. The remains of the dwelling (a Cob* house) with a well preserved clay stove and bed were thoroughly restored. At present it is one of the few intact exhibits representing the -(welling of the Chernyakhivska Culture of the Ukrainian people found in our country.
A pagan place oi worship (excavated in 1984 on Bohit Mount near the Zbruch River) was reconstructed on the grounds of the Perevaslav Museum. A cop; of the Ztruch idol hat been set up here. This idol reflects the entire cosmogonic system which the Slavic people hail formed by the 9th century.
At the time of Kievan Rus, the Pereyaslav area was famous for its pottery and clay figurines. Clay Ashes were mainly made on the potter’s wheel Even today the preserved items at 10th-century amphora and a 10th-century vessel — reflect the great skill of the unknown master-craftsman. A fragment of an anthropomorphic toy figurine (10th —13th century» was found during excavations conducted in Pereyaslav, also a plinthoi sample with the representation of an eagle (11 th c.). and a stone slab bearing a still undeciphered inscription (11th с.) which was unearthed in the Church of Our Savior, the Pereyaslav princes burial place. Archaeologists and local lore experts discovered a number of important items during excavations in the famous St. Michael’s and St. Andrew’s churches of Pereyaslav.
The most typical dwelling structure of the Kievan Rus period is represented by an overland framework with a gable roof and wooden floor The structure was usually decorated with carving. As a rule, the structure consisted of two chambers, the sent (vestibule) and the dwelling-room proper. The husbandry building had two floors: the first was used for cattle.
the second, unheated, was intended (or the storing o( crops and other products. The premises were surrounded by a woolen fence.
Foundation work of the Church of Our Savior, a burial place of Pertyaslav princes (11th c.) was unearthed in 1953. Even the remains of this grandiose structure are striking for their compositional balance. Our ancestors speak to us in the language of stone.
Wood was the main construction material of Old Rus period. Naturally, the structures differed considerably as to their size, purpose, skill of execution and exterior decor. This modest 11 th — century dwelling place reconstructed could not challenge the beauty of the princes’ palaces, but still, the quiet harmony with nature is striking… In winter, it was heated by stove without chimney (the so-called “black” heating), but it was quite warm indoors.
The history of ancient Rus in the 11th—13th century was closely connected with the polovtsi, militant nomads. The outstanding literary monument of the Old Rus epoch written in the late 12th century tells about the Polovtsian campaign of Novhorod-Siversky Prince Igor in 1185…
The polovtsi along with cattle-breeding. indulged in various crafts.
In time, however, they «его ousted from the Historical seen, but the south Ukrainian steppe retains numerous examples oi polovtsian stone sculpture». The refined artistic last is inherent in the animal (purines (bears, a man riling a lion, 6lh early 7th century found in the polovtsian s J net u a ry. Reg let fully, time has not spared even Stone…
Polovtsian pagan idols worshipped by the steppe nomads are giant stone sculptures with skilfully worked-out details. For many centuries these idols stood on mounds adorning polovtsian places of worship and listening attentively through the incessant rustle of the feather-grass steppe into the distant clatter of horses’ hoofs and curt shouts of proud horsemen. Being attributes of faith, forms of the polovtsian idols were determined by the canons, though you would hardly find two identical figures… These statues have come to the museum from the Kherson and Mykolaiv regions.
The mastery of Old Rus jewellers can be illustrated by a list of techniques applied in ancient jewellery: casting, drawing, cloisonne, filigree, engraving, granulation, embossing and so on. Casting was most widely practised. Heated in special clay bowls, metal was moulded in forms prepared beforehand. Bronze was frequently used by Old Rus jewellers. In the Pereyaslav Museum ancient bronze is represented by a candle-holder, an elegant chandelier, and a fragment of the altar decor, all found during excavations in the Church of Our Savior.
The museum exhibition includes samples of authentic Cossack weaponry, which not only served military purposes, but showed considerable skill in their decoration. Among them are a flint rifle, pistols and powder boxes dating back to the period of the Ukrainian liberation struggle in the 17th century.
Cossack garb and military outfits were functional On church holidays and in time of recreation Cossacks used to wear bright, even garish clothes. The Cossack hairstyle, long mustache and pipe were absolutely essential.
Ukrainian Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky, a famous military commander, statesman and diplomat, was the principal figure in the liberation war led by the Ukrainian people against the Polish lords in 1648—1654. This portrait of the Hetman in festive attire was painted by an anonymous 17th-century painter. The unique museum exhibits also include Khmelnytsky’s personal sabre, as well as a parade sabre of the Hetman’s safeguards. A horse’s tail and a mace were symbols of the Hetman’s power in the Ukraine in the 17th century.
The decree adopted by the Zemsky Sobor (Council) in 1653 under the Russian Tsar approved the reunification of the Ukraine with Russia.
“The decision of the Zemsky Sobor was of great
significance for the forthcoming relations of Russia and the Ukraine. Of special importance was the fact that Russia, both de jacto and dejure recognized the Ukraine as a free and sovereign country which could maintain contacts with other states.
The reunification, though, did not bring the Ukrainian people complete liberation. Russia was under the rule oi tsarism which pursued the reactionary policy of national-colonial oppression of all the subjugated nations. Ukrainian people suffered from the autocracy as well.”
(I. P. Krypyakevych. Rohdan Khmelnylsky)
The Pereyaslav Rada was one of the most significant events of the 17th century. Visitors to the museum can see not only Cobsack weapons (pistols, copper belt decorated with engraving, powder boxes, etc.) but also military gear typical of Russian soldiers.
“People of military distinction, Zaporozhian Cossacks, held religious holidays in great honor. They specially revered the feasts of the Intercession of Our Lady, the Archangel Michael and St. Nicholas the Miracle- Worker. Zaporozhian Cossacks built in the Such a church consecrated in honour of the Intercession of Our Lady, and, having Her Holy Intercession, the Cossacks feared neither enemy fire, nor elemental forces…”
In 1972 the Hryhory Skovoroda Memorial Museum was opened in the building of the city collegium. The former interior was recreated, and Skovoroda’s personal belongings were put on display. The history of Ukrainian Enlightenment breathes here… The collegium library ot’ten served Hryhory Skovoroda as a study.
The old furniture has been restored in the library and its book cases now hold some 6,000 books dating back to the 16th — 19th centuries, among them some unique old printed folios. “Oh, library of mine // Only a few care to read your treasures!” reads one of philosopher’s poems.
The restored interior of the auditorium where Hryhory Skovoroda delivered his lectures is now one of the most interesting sections of the museum. Here the spirit of poetry once reigned. The poems of ancient authors as well as of contemporary national and foreign poets resounded in this classroom. Sometimes the teacher recited his own works and spoke about good and evil, about Man’s destination, Man’s wisdom, about the route of heavenly bodies and the Christian faith.
Preserved in the Skovoroda Memorial Museum are samples of his autoeraphs (facsimiles), and pages from his dialogue A Friendly Discourse on Peace which was published in 1837.
It deals with the theme of Man’s happiness and ways to acquire it.
A typical interior of а carpenter’s cottage. The polychromic painting of (he beam was widely practised in the Ukraine. Here its floral pattern is noteworthy. Functional value and decorative quality were often combined in the interior of a Ukrainian cottage.
Every homestead and cottage had a unique look, especially when it belonged to a master-crafts- man, such as a cooper, a potter, a weaver or a carpenter. Crossing the threshold of a cottage, one could tell with certainty who its master was because every item displayed the skill and the very soul of its maker.
The oldest and most widely practiced kind of wood-making was probably coppery. A cooper made kegs, barrels, and buckets, and wood of various trees, such as beech, oak, lime, willow, birch or pine was used for their production. In a cooper’s workshop all tools and instruments had their particular places.
The exhibition includes household articles made by coopers.
Every village had a tanner of its own. The exterior of this tanner’s cottage from the village of Vyunishche illustrates the modest means of its master, though the tanner’s skill was of great demand among villagers.
In the Ukraine, the art of pottery has deep historical roots, and even today is extensively practiced.
The museum also features a potter’s household. This is a barn of the potter’s farmstead and original screw-patterned wood-carving decorates the pillar of a small gallery in the store-house
The centers of Kiev ceramics were located in Mezhihirya, Pereyaslav and Bohuslav. Artistic ceramics produced there had many features in common with ceramic items produced in other areas of the Ukraine.
For the Ukrainian people, and for many other nations as well, the potter’s wheel has a profound philosophical and aesthetic meaning: it personifies the eternity of life and the rebirth of everything alive with the change of seasons. And clay is a divine material.
Ukrainian pottery includes household articles like bowls, dishes, pots, ceramics, candle-holders and toys for children.
Apart from its functional purpose, every item brings from the past a message of folk aesthetics, its ideas of form and color. However simple, every article is unique. Peculiar ceramic painting characterizes every historic-ethnic region of the Ukraine. In ceramic articles of the Dnieper area “autumn” colors prevail.
The symbol of bread, an ear of wheat, often decorated the interiors of peasant cottages. Potters, weavers and needlewomen all made use of this symbol in their patterns.
The Museum of Bread was set up in Pereyaslav, and the baker’s cottage is its focal point. Here we see articles no longer to be found anywhere: wooden bowls, which were used in the past for baking bread, and oven prongs which were not only labour implements, but the subject of humourous folk songs.
A Ukrainian stove and bed combine warmth with the aroma of freshly- baked bread and engender nostalgic feelings.
Olexander Rigelman made a considerable contribution to the study of Cossack life and traditions, as well as to various customs in 18th-century Ukraine. T. Kalyn- sky’s drawing in Rigel- man’s book “Chronological Narration of Little Russia, Her People and Cossacks in General…”
(M, 1843) shows a certain type of Ukrainian peasant, full of life and dignity: a wheat-grower in his own right.
This landlord’s homestead is from the village of Vo- ronkiv, Boryspil District, Kiev region (19th c ).
It demonstrates all the typical exterior features, and rests in harmonious unity with the blue stillness of a decorative pond The plate produced by the Kiev-Mezhyhirya Factory (19th c.) as well as porcelain articles made at the Miklashevsky Factory were used by those who “appreciated art”. These articles are still pleasing to the eye today.
A bowl-shelf is an inseparable part of the cottage’s furnishing. The traditional tiers of shelves combined with the vertical positions of the dishes transformed the poorest cottage to a tiny exhibition of folk art. You were sure to find slip-painted dishes in every family. Though maintaining established rules, the craftsman gave free rein to his fantasy, and every plate or dish is a magic whirl of colors.
Every person has a river of his childhood, and the lyrical tenor of Ukrainian sccncry is reflected in our songs and ballads.
This memorial cottage is from the village of Vablya, Borodyanka district, Kiev region. 1880s