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FROM THE PERMANENT COLLECTION

RUSHNYKY (Ritual Cloths) and WEDDING TREES

Another addition to the Permanent Folk Art Exhibition is comprised of rushnyky (ritual cloths) and wedding trees. The rushnyky are from the Poltava region and Sumy oblast' in northeastern Ukraine, and date from the second half of the 18th century to the beginning of the 20th century. This exhibit features two types of rushnyky- woven and embroidered. Their designs depicting the tree of life motif, birds and floral motifs identify them as rushnyky used in the wedding ceremony.

The ritual cloths have a long history in the Ukrainian folk art tradition, dating back to pagan times. These textiles, as well as their designs are deeply symbolic. While most of the symbolism and magic surrounding their meaning has been lost with time, nevertheless enough information has been passed down through the centuries for people to still utilize rushnyky even today in various religious ceremonies and passage of life rituals.(For detailed information on the history, meaning and uses of the Ukrainian ritual cloths, see the Ukrainian Museum's exhibition catalogue RUSHNYKY, UKRAINIAN RITUAL CLOTHS, 1981.)

The exhibition also features Wedding Trees. These unusual, colorful and decorative objects are created from actual tree branches, covered with dough and decorated with dough birds, colored ribbons and periwinkle. The tree branches are traditionally placed on a korovai (wedding bread) and are symbolic representations of a long, prosperous and prolific life that is wished for the bride and groom.

The Wedding Trees on display were created by Larysa Zielyk and donated to the Museum by Branch 64 of the Ukrainian National Women's League of America.

 


 

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