One of the first things one might notice about traditional houses in Ukrainian villages is the whiteness of their walls. In fact, bleaching such a large area paved the way for the decorative painting to grow so popular on the whole territory of the country. Traditionally, female members of families gathered to decorate the walls with ornaments of fantasy trees with birds. This motif dates way back to the Pagan times and up to the roots of the Christian history, where tree usually symbolized the “tree of life”, giving fruits to people.
Later, naturalistic motifs were more widespread — leaves of oak, maple, hops and grapes, as well as paintings of owls and peacocks, could be found in many homes. While each region had its unique ways of decorating, traditionally scholars highlight four main schools of decorative painting:
Traditionally, all decorating was made on white background, be it walls or paper. Contemporary masters, however, paint on blue, black and even red. In 2013, Petrykivka painting style was included in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List. To witness the works of art in real life, you may visit the Center of folk art ‘Petrykivka’ and a museum located in the village. Local masters often hold workshops for those who want to try themselves at Ukrainian decorating.
Besides, masters from Opishnia traditionally make clay penny whistles for kids. As for the motifs, flowers, spikes and branches draws in bouquets are the basis of the painting. As a rule, ceramics in Opishnia are painted in simple geometrical shapes without sharp lines. Adding contrasting blue, dark brown, bright green or black traditionally enhances the color of the pattern.
Painting saints, namely St Nicholas and St George was incredibly spread as well. Masters often used a limited color palette, consisting of white, green and different shades of ochre. Kosiv style is mostly present on items like utensils, household décor, toys and souvenirs. Decorated tiles have been recognized as works of art centuries ago — the oldest of them are kept in museums in Vienna and Bucharest.
The main feature of Bubnivka style is a thorough filling of the background with many details. The color palette includes bright red mixed with white, often of yellowish shade, green, and dark brown. Many examples of Bubnivka style décor are a part of the main exhibition in the Museum-Estate of Herasymenko Brothers in Novoselivka village.
Sources: skrynya.ua, petrykivka.dp.ua.
Photo sources: petrykivka.dp.ua, vocnt.org.ua, kraina-ua.com, Sun_Shine / Shutterstock.com. All images belong to their rightful authors.