« 2021. # 4 (160)

The Ethnology Notebooks. 2021. № 4 (160), 849—863


DOI https://doi.org/10.15407/nz2021.04.849



  • ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1362-8270
  • PhD in History, Senior Research Fellow,
  • Maksym Rylskyi Institute of Art Studies,
  • Folklore Studies and Ethnology,
  • National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine
  • 4, Hrushevskoho str., 01001, Kyiv, Ukraine,
  • Contacts: e-mail: grigras@i.ua


  • ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2946-8243
  • PhD in History, Research Fellow,
  • Maksym Rylskyi Institute of Art Studies,
  • Folklore Studies and Ethnology,
  • National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine
  • 4, Hrushevskoho str., 01001, Kyiv, Ukraine,
  • Contacts: e-mail: marina.oliynik@gmail.com

Abstract. Background. Recently, some authors started to allege the erroneous nature of a number of statements made by their predecessors and colleagues regarding the origin and evolution of Ukrainian garment embroidery. In their opinion, Ukrainian traditional embroidery is truly limited to rural (peasant) patterns, which emerged exclusively as a cultural borrowing from the «upper class» at the end of the XVIII—XIX centuries or later; The «upper class» embroidery was allegedly also borrowed in its entirety from other nations. Study purpose: To determine the extent, to which these radical statements are true, considering the relevant social context, time frames and ways, in which the Ukrainian garment embroidery emerged, as well as to identify possible solutions to this problem. Methods of these study included the review of literature concerning the patterns of cultural phenomena functioning as components of the relevant social structures, including, but not limited to the mechanisms of cultural borrowing and adaptation and their action — the works by F. Boas, A. Kreber, K. Hrushevska, S. Arutyunov, et al. («Social Life of Items»). Results. The study results emphasize the weakness of the critics’ arguments, including those concerning the alleged borrowing of entire Ukrainian garment embroidery by the peasants from the «upper class», and by the «upper class» from other nations. The «critics» tend ignore the social context of embroidery and the complexity of social structures during different historical periods and misunderstand the relationship between borrowing and adaptation of phenomena and their role in enriching culture. It is established that the skeptics paint a picture of impoverished Ukrainian traditional clothing, lacking decorations, which was typical for only one social stratum (peasants) of the later period. Conclusion. The study shows that the critical theses and doubts by modern skeptics regarding the antiquity and autochthony of traditions in Ukrainian garment embroidery are unjustified. However, the emergence of such trends as such indicates a need for further in-depth research in order to establish a true picture of the origin and evolution of embroidery.

Keywords: embroidery, traditional garments, peasants, social upper class, origins, borrowing, adaptation.

Received 15.05.2021


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