WEAVING AND EMBROIDERIES
Embroideries, like particular portions of dress, vary strikingly according to the district and even according to the village, a fact which will become more comprehensible if it is remembered that costume is more closely associated with locality than, for example, carving or ceramics. The plates made by the Hutsul craftsmen adorn the peasant dwellings almost all over the Verkovyna, the Hutsul wooden crosses may be found in the church of almost any parish, but some small variation in the pattern of the embroidery on a shirt will astonish a woman from another village where another type of design has been the fashion from countless ages.
The embroideries which are reproduced here were selected from among thousands of variations and contain typical examples from the various regions. There are four main regions which must be differentiated with their corresponding embroideries.
First comes the Verkhovyna with its special "cross," with patterns in which red, blue and black predominate. The Turya River valley offers a different type of embroidery with characteristic black patterns and variations in the stitches. The cross is modified by stitches of white thread (opletachka), indentures and flat stitching. The Turyan embroidery is particularly simple in style. In several villages the sleeves and the collars of the blouses, especially of the men's, are treated very plainly. A similar type of embroidery but still more simple with a blue pattern on a white ground is to be found in Marmarosh.
The third area, having the third type of embroidery, begins in Volove and stretches to the south to the plains of Marmarosh. In this territory the cross stitch is not so common as a particular kind called "simple" by the inhabitants. The pattern is sewn with cotton threads or with wool from the reverse side producing a smooth pattern on the right side which stands out very sharply from the fabric. The size and shape of these embroideries vary from village to village. Thus in one village we see large squares on the sleeves of the women's blouses while in another there are narrow longitudinal stripes on the sleeves. The girls' dresses are bright with continuous spots which are sometimes successfully replaced by woven patterns.
Finally another type of embroidery is to be found among the Hutsuls, who are neighbors of the Galician Hutsuls on the other side of the Carpathian Mountains. In this region the most delightful ornamentation is to be found. It is thought that this heavy embroidery -- a small cross mixed with half crosses and other close stitches -- is derived from designs on very ancient fabrics.
In all embroideries the designs and not so much the colors must be considered for the tradition of color is less constant. The customs of villages in this respect fluctuate through various chance causes. If the original traditional color is preserved from the time when the village used vegetable dyes of its own manufacture that village is confronted with too powerful a temptation in the form of the manufactured material colored with aniline dyes which has now become universal. The old style has preserved itself in remote, out-of-the-way corners and even there it is quickly changing. For example yellow has come into fashion in the Verkhovyna style of embroidering which at one time used nothing but red and dark blue crosses or red and black ones or again black ones only. And this is a common phenomenon. The many-colored dots used in the Turya design are also comparatively a novelty. The dots were formerly black. It is the same with the variegated colors of the Hutsul ustavky which with the predominance of this or that color scheme is a departure from the old color scheme. The color scheme changes in the course of centuries and in this respect the influence of neighbors must be said to be the most important one. Thus not so long ago in the neighborhood of Yasinya a bright scheme of yellow-orange-green definitely superseded the previous one of black- green-red, perhaps as an echo of the local sympathy with Galicia and other parts of Ukraine.
Designs are much more static. They are preserved apart from the variations in the coloring and their style is closely related to the traditional technique of manufacture. This is apparent in Subcarpathian Rus'. The patterns of embroidery have been preserved from a distant past. The most interesting element of all, consequently, is the design itself, the stylistic skeleton of the Subcarpathian Rusyn embroideries.
The basis of this design is exactly the same everywhere, from Stuzhytsya to Yasinya. That is, a lozenge, which is a more or less prolonged quadrangle with equal sides. The lozenge may also be regarded as composed of two equal triangles joined at the base. A row of lozenges of equal size arranged in a stripe gives a chain which in its turn appears as a combination of two traditional kryvulky, that is, broken lines either meeting at the angles in the form of little teeth or intersecting one another, which does not alter the position as in the second case the links of the kryvulka are twice as long.
All the variations in the basic design of Subcarpathian Rusyn embroidery follow from this. The embroidery may thus be described as of the lozenge type. What at first glance appear to be the most complicated designs can finally be resolved into developments of this geometrical theme. And if on rare occasions vegetable garlands are woven into the pattern they may be regarded as decorative elements which have been introduced later, although they have grown into the geometrical design and have themselves become subjected to geometrical stylization.
In this lies the remarkable difference between the national design of Subcarpathian Rus' and, that of Great Ukraine, where the designs have been influenced by the colored Persian stylization which has done so much to enliven those themes. The element of vegetable ornament is completely absent in the Hutsul embroidery, for it is only found in places where influences from other Slavonic countries have exerted themselves. It is possible to speak of a purely geometrical tradition of embroidery in Subcarpathian Rus' generally however much one is able to see in other themes of the embroideries some sort of an imitation of nature. Although this last idea is supported by various local designation of patterns like "sheep's horns," "feathers," "butterflies," "ears of corn," "fir tree," etc., more often than not these terms describe the traditional geometrical motifs in terms of analogy.
It is sufficient to examine the Hutsul embroideries to see that the lozenge pattern is the most fundamental one. The most typical design of Yasinya, which is worked out in thousands of variations (see plate VI and pages 122 and 123), consists of broad unbroken bands of lozenges meeting at the angles and placed between straight strips in one or several lines, the strips forming a border to the garment. And above them there are rows of trubky. These decorative trubky, a number of which have a long ornamental genealogy, are geometrically nothing but the produced sides of a rhombus. If the bent ends are lost the trubky become "little horns" or project in the form of fine bristles along the sides of the rhombus. The bristles occasionally adorn all the outlines of the design and give it a fine toothed effect.
Ustavky of womens blouse embroidered with wool - Yasinya
But the designs become still more complicated. Small lozenges with a "little eye" in the center are placed inside larger ones and are also spread out or clustered together, resulting in the whole surface of the embroidery being covered with a checkered effect. Or they may be united in groups of five in the form of crosses, while the crosses themselves are ornamented with bristles etc. To these meander-like ornamentations of the lozenge are closely allied the little hooks which are attached to the sides of the rhombus on the inside. This treatment has particular significance in the technique of embroidery and weaving in the district of Marmarosh (page 131). In Yasinya they embroider as well patterns which consist entirely of small lozenges with an "eye." At times the whole embroidery consists of bands which are bordered with rows of these little lozenges or with trubky on half lozenges as shown on pages 123, bottom and 125, top. Occasionally there are also to be found strips which are crossed with parallel lines on a smooth background (page 124, centre) as well as lozenges with indentures at the top and "teeth" at the bottom, forming crosses or eight-pointed stars (page 129). Half of such a star constitutes a "butterfly." Borders are also formed of these "butterflies" as well as of figures called chobitky. Half a "butterfly" gives a "feather."
Embroidered ustavky from the sleeves of womens blouses
Lastly there is an ancient type of figure recalling the symbol of endlessness, in a number of variations (page 129, first and second from top left). It is true that this figure also is simply reached through an arrangement of lozenges (by rounding out the angles), and this idea is supported by other Subcarpathian Rusyn embroideries in which the meander pattern, through being broken, gives the figure of an S lying down, with sharp angles.
The designs to be found in Bohdan, Rakhiv, Kosivska, Rosushka and Kobelya Polyana, generally speaking, repeat the combinations of those of Yasinya differing from them chiefly in color. The delicacy of their coloring is sufficiently well shown by plates VI - VIII. It may be said that in Roshushka the strips of lozenges are less compact and ornamented with bristles to a greater extent. In Bohdan the whole design is finer and the embroideries noticeably narrower. Kobelya and Kosivska are distinguished by lozenges which are sewn in the form of a cross along the edges of the material in such a way that they resemble a string of beads (plate VIII). In addition very characteristic of Rosushka and Kobelya are edgings consisting of hooks which recall moulded cornices. On occasion the whole pattern consists of ordinary bands placed between such "cornices." Typical of Rakhiv are the rhombuses with the long "horns," resembling spider's legs, as well as the bands of S's which are placed inside rhombuses and zigzag hooks of an eastern carpet type.
Shoulders of womens blouses embroidered with wool - Kobelya Polyana
There is a great deal of freedom and chance variation in this ornamental counterpoint, and the more new the embroidery the more often do we come upon a conscious departure from the tradition. It would be strange if in our time the embroidered pattern had not been subjected to the influence of the insouciance of the towns. But generally speaking it may be said that the traditions of the past are still being adhered to. Apart from that we must make a distinction between the Hutsul patterns done in the cross stitch and the reversed stitch which is more characteristic of the country and more closely allied with the technique of weaving, from which it is derived.
This connection is more patent in the particularly fine, double-sided stitch which is called by the inhabitants of Marmorosh naprosto in which variety is obtained with a kind of sewing in which the stitches are raised, known as the kucheryave quilting. Here the whole system of embroidery is based on little hooks, of the type hitherto described, which are attached to insides of rhombuses. For example, the embroidery on the zaspulnytsi of Dovhe is in the form of lozenges which are close together in strips about two inches in width, done in thick red thread and some times having little blue spots. Apart from the blue spots the stitching is often reversed and done from the left side, the basic figure being the rhombus with hooks in the form of a flower, known as the ruzha. The ruzha may have two, three or four hooks on each side. This is the scheme but the treatment is infinitely varied. With the lozenge is associated the theme of "feathers" on the edges of the embroidery, giving it a festooned effect. The hooks themselves vary. They may be long or short, with this or that curvature. The whole ruzha can be more or less complicated with the addition of various decorative elements, such as, a small ruzha inserted in the middle, bands crossed by parallel lines, "ferns," etc. The patterns are named according to these features. Thus they speak of a "ruzha with two hooks," etc. One of these patterns decorates the sleeves of the woman's blouse from Bereznyk, shown on page 106. The large cross on the sleeve of a blouse from Lipsha Polyana (page 132 left) is of the same design.
Left, Sleeve of a womans blouse embroidered in the "simple" style - Lipsha Polyana
Right, Sleeve of a womans blouse embrodered with quilting - Gorinchevo
The embroidered blouse from Nyzhniy Synyovir (page 131) shows a more simple figure of the hooked rhombus in close rows. We have here simple ruzhi with two hooks and a small ruzha in the centre and ornamented below with "feathers." In its whole character this finely embroidered pattern suggests a woven design. Apart from this the same patterns are still woven in Marmarosh with the exception of the bordering with "feathers," which are exclusively embroidered. These blouses with the hooked ruzhi are found in the neighborhood of Izha in Boroniv. The resemblance is so complete that on first examination it is hard to tell when it is woven and when embroidered.
The rhomboid basic pattern is also generally evident in the woven materials of Subcarpathian Rus', as may be seen from the patterns illustrated here. This foundation is very noticeable in the woolen taystra from Rakhiv, illustrated on page 102 left. It is not entirely obliterated in the complicated arrangement of the threads in the characteristic weaving of the Hutsul zapasky (page 32 bottom). The linen towels and tablecloths are not less striking in this respect, although in most cases only traces are left of the "horned" rhombuses-in the form of red toothed strips of varying dimensions with combinations of crosses and figures suggesting the Cyrillic letter "zh"(see page 144 left and 145). The gradual development of this stylization is shown by the sheet illustrated on page 146, 147 and 148, where there can be seen rhomboid ruzhi, trubky, "little stars" and "feathers."
Woven tablecloth - Uzhhorod
It is interesting to note that even now in Neresnytsya, Niyagovo and Seredna Apsha carpets are woven which, incidentally, are decorated with rhombuses with hooks, as shown on page 102, right, a woolen sack from Apsha. Only here the hooks are in fours on each side of a rhombus, with one hook on the inside, and represent a typical eastern decorative theme with an axe-like broadening of the hook; the same element which is so essential in ancient Caucasian art, for example, in the ancient carpets from the middle of the Caucasus. The genealogy of these hooks is also very ancient and probably goes back to primitive patterns of the far east and to the Chinese double meander, which has been considered to be a symbolical representation of thunder. It is very plausible to see in the Mongolian hooks, which have penetrated into Subcarpathian Rus', a symbolization of the claws of the dragon. At any rate this is clearly shown by a seal of the Ming dynasty which, as is known, took the place of the Tatar-Mongolian dynasty of the Iyuans in the fourteenth century.
One is particularly struck by the resemblance to the Subcarpathian Rusyn themes of the variegated flowering on Caucasian carpets. It is sufficient to compare, for example, the taystra from Apsha, mentioned above, with the ancient carpets from the once-existing Khanate of Karabakh (now Azerbaijan) or the recent peasant art from the town of Shusha, which imitates the ancient style of design, or with the individually stylized smooth Kurd yaman (pages 149 and 150) in order to convince oneself of the identity of the theme. Generally speaking it may be said that there is no doubt that a large portion of these elements of the Subcarpathian Rusyn pattern, and also the stylistic treatment of these elements, may be found in a complete form in Caucasian carpets. Another example are the woven strips which are used for decorating the kibitki of the Kirghiz of the district of Turgai, strips which not only in design but also in coloration correspond closely with the Hutsul embroideries; rhombuses with hooks at the sides (plate IIf).
Two hooks turned in opposite directions and rounded at the ends form a figure which the Subcarpathian Rusyn embroiderers describe as "ram's horns" or "ram's heads." It is well shown on page 142, centre left, where four "ram's heads" are sewn in the form of crosses between two rows of teeth which meet at the top--all along the edge of the bands.
The effect of two waves of such hooks meeting, recalling the Mycenian "wave", and the Egyptian one, giving a zigzag stripe, is seen on the man's blouse from Lyubna (page 105, left) while a form resembling an S is evident on the woman's blouse from Poroshkiv (plate V, see also the decorative "teeth" on the jacket from Yasinya).
"Ram's heads" are well represented on page 133 as well as pages 130 left and 132 right. A large part of the embroidery on the sleeves from Nyzhniy Synyovir is composed of them, a further development of the theme already described, while the upper part of the decoration consists of "feathered stars." It is easy to convince oneself that even the theme of the eight-pointed stars relates to the same tradition or that there is close connection of such stars with the eastern "palm" pattern.
The carpet industry of Niyagovo, Neresnytsya and Apsha, already referred to, bears a direct influence of eastern carpet weaving, probably through Rumania and Hungary. A good many influences necessarily entered Subcarpathian Rus' from the south where the historical and racial connection with the cast remained unbroken. But nevertheless the rhombuses, trubky and "little hooks" (not the axe- like in appearance) remained the general tradition and therefore an ancient inheritance.
The most characteristic element of the Turya embroideries are strips of truncated rhombuses bordered with narrow bands of the same theme. This particularly applies to cuffs and facings, in which case the pattern is usually finished off by a row of sharp little "teeth" as shown on page 134, last three examples. "Teeth" of the same type may be found on the narrow collars of the blouses. A variation of these rhombuses, sometimes found, consists in the fact that the "cross" is combined with the opletachka.
A special Turya characteristic, in the embroidery of shoulder-pieces in particular, is produced by festooned borders of "butterflies" and "feathers," which gives the whole pattern a quality of detailedness and an effect of prickles. The typical pattern of Turya Polyana and Turya Paseka, where the designs are much more fully preserved than in the remaining villages, is an arrangement of these 'feathers" adorned with sharp "horns." In other examples this original feathered bordering, which here resembles flower ornamentation and the effect of which is sometimes heightened by the addition of garlands, acquires the chief significance and dominates the whole pattern. All that remains of the rhombuses are certain scrolls.
The embroideries of Poroshkiv are also at times embellished with variegated colors. To the original black, dark blue and red "cross" is added another which is bright blue, green or yellow in color. In this case the whole of the canvas is not used so that in places the white background shows through and in its turn is embroidered with quilting, etc. This graceful style of embroidery is very different from the Hutsul "woven" style, but even here the original pattern shows through everywhere and there can be no doubt of the fact that both styles have been inherited from the past. Characteristic also of the variations in the Turya pattern are the rhomboid crosses, eight-pointed stars, etc. In places the themes of the trubka and the "little hooks" may be seen (pages 134 and 137).
Top - Embroidered sleeves of womes blouses - Poroshkiv
Bottom: Cross stitch on cuffs of shirts - Holubyne and Poroshkiv
The designs of the Verkhovyna are on the same lines. They are simpler and, it would appear, more geometrical, in the first place because they are more closely sewn (at times without the material showing through at all) and in the second place because the "feathers" are treated less fully and there is an almost complete absence of conventionalized curves. For the most part the patterns consist of the kryvulka, single, double or treble, with a fine border (page 140, first four examples). Two kryvulky crossing one another form a strip of rhombuses with an "eye" in the centre. But here the rhombuses do not have "horns" at the side and inside as with the Hutsul pattern. In these designs there is simply no room for complicated patterns. The eastern tradition has only been preserved in traces, in the most modest and approximate imitations of what is highly developed in the Hutsul area. This can be clearly seen, for example, on pages 138 and 139, where on the edges of the pattern are rudiments of the Hutsul bocharky. The cross which is placed inside a square or a rhombus, the star and the theme of the ram's head have the same fate, which may be seen from the design from Stuzhytsya.
In conclusion one point may be made. Originally the type of design which is found in the more remote parts of Subcarpathian Rus' was formerly preserved there in almost complete purity more fully than in any other of the ethnographical groups which have inherited the tradition. In the Balkans, where it has been preserved, the influence of the tradition of carpet weaving in Asia Minor is patent. In Russia also, as in a large part of the Caucasus, Persian themes have been introduced, not to speak of those of the Renaissance. But here there is not the slightest trace of the Persian stylization of plants and animals, nor of the Renaissance, nor of the themes found in Smyrna and Brussa although any number of such carpets, or carpets of similar design, may be found in the adjoining Rumania. The tradition of this Subcarpathian Rusyn rhombus pattern is indeed an ancient one which dates back from a time when one culture exerted its influence on another very gradually.
However, national tradition is now dying quickly in Subcarpathian Rus' and it is doubtful whether anything can arrest this process of degeneration for it seems that history has no real love for beauty.
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