What Better Time to Celebrate Ukrainian Folklore Than During Summer
Kyiv, June 19, 2012. The National Museum of Ukraine hosts a series of weekly art festivals called The National Museum of People’s Daily Life and Architecture on the hills of the Pyrohiv village just outside of Kyiv. Each week, the museum celebrates a different style of Ukrainian crafts such as pottery, blacksmithing, looming, embroidery, knotting, etc.
This week the museum invited the best master blacksmiths and Trypillian potters in the country. The festival seems to have successfully magnetized a variety of art lovers who jumped at the opportunity to touch upon and learn about each craft. “This festival involves artists from everywhere including Carpathian region, Polissya, Crimea, Donbas, etc. These artists are rejuvenating the old craft traditions of blacksmithing and pottery, so we welcome everyone to come and be an artist among the masters of each craft,” added Oleksandr Bossy, Head of the National Art and Folklore Department of the National Museum of Ukraine.
There is an incredible amount of skill involved in the trade of blacksmithing. Creating objects from wrought iron or steel by forging metal is hot, dirty, and physically demanding. However, learning to shape metal is an extremely rewarding and a surprisingly useful skill. Blacksmiths utilize their expertise with hammer and anvil to craft everything from deadly weapons to beautiful jewelry. Hammering, bending, and cutting were only a handful of sounds resonating throughout the festival as patrons formed lines to try out this craft for themselves. “Right now I’m hammering a wrought iron horseshoe. This symbol is important in the folklore of Ukraine, for it’s a symbol of luck. I guess you could say, this is how you hammer for luck,” joked Dmytro Ovodenko, a blacksmith.
Clay has always been at the center of Ukrainian culture, being a material used to make dishes, jewelry, and build houses, for as far back as Ukraine’s history dates. It was a so-called “miracle material” because of its endless and useful applications, and its “miracle” properties in medicinal healing and calling for rain. Today, Trypillian potters are rejuvenating the old importance of Ukrainian clay. Trypillian culture is extremely ancient, dating back over 8,000 years. These were the people who predominantly occupied the vast territories of today’s Ukraine and Romania. Modern archeologists have found that these ancient people lived near the three largest rivers of these two countries, the Buh, the Dnipro, and the Dnister, providing them with an endless supply of Ukraine’s famous clay. A typical ornament excavated at Trypillian archeological digs is a clay “Goddess” fetish that is considered to possess all of the positive energy a woman has inside of her as well as a woman’s ancient and good karma. Zanna Rasylchuk, a 14th generation Trypillian potter who exclusively studies Trypillian ceramics, implements symbolic ornaments of her ancient culture in nearly every piece she creates. “We are still finding pieces of Trypillian ceramics in our backyards, and just through those pieces and my attachment to my ancient Trypillian culture, I am introducing my own interpretations of what I find into a modern form. It’s my way of expressing Trypillian power and influence into this contemporary world,” concluded Zanna Rasylchuk.