Vyshyvanka As The Symbol Of Inviolability

(opinion article)

On May 19, 2022, Ukrainians celebrated the Day of Vyshyvanka. Although this holiday appeared relatively recently, in 2006, the Ukrainian embroidered shirt has been the strongest manifestation of the nation’s identity for centuries. Now, due to the destruction of our people by russia, there is a great need to stick to our traditions and symbols. That is why now it is a good opportunity to remember how much our embroidery has survived during its existence and what it really means for the people.

The History of Vyshyvanka

Embroidery as an art form in Ukraine has existed since the Eneolithic times. Embroidered shirts also existed in the times of Kyivan Rus, which is confirmed by chronicles and images on the frescoes of St. Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv. In the XVII century. embroidery was enriched with floral ornaments. A sufficient number of original monuments of folk embroidery from the XVII-XVIII centuries have been preserved. Before the destruction of the Cossacks in 1775 and the associated decline of Ukrainian national clothing, Cossack embroidered shirts were sewn with silk with the addition of gold and silver threads. The same shirts were then worn by burghers and merchants.

The most difficult time for the Ukrainian national clothes was probably the time of repressions against our people. Then the term “sharovarshchina” appeared as a marker of Moscow chauvinism. Both in the Moscow Empire and in the USSR, the attempts to destroy the Ukrainian people were accompanied with the attempts to destroy our culture as well. The struggle and the banning of all Ukrainian national markers since the 1930s led to a strong distortion of our culture. Instead of unique embroidery, natural fabrics, cheap material and duplicated ugly mass culture ornaments appeared.


“From the ancient Greek embroidery means space. That is, it is a higher matter, it is not just a work of art, but a talisman and a symbol of human spirituality,” say Ukrainian doctors of philosophy, ethnologists, including Associate Professor of the Department of Musical Arts LNU. I. Franko Oksana Korol. She affirms that each pattern on the shirt has a certain message, the color of the thread also has a certain meaning. For example, a rhombus figure with crossed lines and four dots inside means a sown field…In addition, all regions of Ukraine had different patterns and colors of embroidery. Flowers and other plants, geometric shapes, animals and a combination of all these forms differ from the west to the east of the country. In fact, this is how the code of the nation was laid down. But it seems to me that the creation of unique embroideries first of all demonstrates the endless diligence and once again diligence of Ukrainians. Just imagine how many weeks or even months it takes to manually create such a delicate, symmetrical pattern?

Vyshyvanka now

Today, the embroidered shirt is gaining more and more popularity and respect among our youth, despite the endless attempts to destroy all manifestations of our nationality in the past. Embroidered shirts are worn for holidays, celebrations and just to look beautiful and show their belonging to the homeland. Another important fact is that the topic of embroideries is given a lot of attention – articles are written, the origin of ornaments is studied. Modern designers and craftsmen who reproduce original embroideries and interpret them in the fashion of our time make a great contribution to the preservation of such traditions as embroidered shirts. The embroidered shirt is the amulet, a symbol of spirituality, which protects us, our military men and our country from evil.

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