Folk Arts and Crafts

The Easter egg or pysanka, was one of the most widely produced items of folk art. Lemko pysanky are created by applying hot beeswax to a raw egg using a pin head affixed to a short stick. Various colors of dye (usually homemade) are applied, alternating colors with applications of beeswax (which resists the dye). The wax is then melted off, revealing the multicolored design. The pin head leaves the wax on the egg in a "teardrop" shape. These shapes are combined in motifs of animals, insects, celestial objects, people and religious symbols. The Lemko pysanky are essentially identical to the Rusyn pysanky of the Presov region in Slovakia.

Various wood objects, mentioned above, were also carved for home use: boxes, chests for storing clothes, tables, cradles, cupboards, small barrels, kitchenware, and toys. Many of these items are decorated with a nature motif representing the local environment; oak and maple leaves, pine and fir twigs, flowers and fruits.61 See Appendix III for examples of this woodcarving.

Also mentioned previously are homemade fabrics, especially linen. This homespun fabric was used for clothes, tablecloths, sheets and embroidered towels (ruchnyky). The fabrics were colored with local plant or animal dyes (which the Lemkos also made themselves). Most villages had skilled cloth printers who prepared printed cloth women's skirts. Lavish, intricate embroidery was added to cloths and towels, using various techniques, especially satin and cross-stitch and beading.62 The finest embroidered towels (ruchnyky) were decorative embellishments to icons in the home, or donated to the church to adorn the icon screen and icon shrines.

More specialized crafts included leather products and pottery. The leather workmanship practiced in the region was by tanners who mostly specialized in sheepskin to make winter clothes and footwear (see the section below on clothing). Pottery workshops mostly produced kitchenware; ceramics had to be imported. The pottery was usually glazed brown and painted with white in patterns of the sun, twigs and curves; the motifs were similar to those found in Lemko woodcarving, embroidery, and pysanky.63

After the Lemkos were deported in 1945-47, most of their traditional customs were no longer practiced and the folk art connected with those customs was no longer produced. The only craft which is still widespread is the pysanka. To some degree, decorative wall painting and the making of sculpture toys and ceramics have been retained. Lemko communities in Ukraine have especially maintained embroidery and woodcarving; L'viv and Ternopil' have "organized workshops" for both crafts. Lemko folk weaving motifs and patterns have been adapted by modern fashion designers in western Ukraine.64

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