« 2021. # 5 (161)

The Ethnology Notebooks. 2021. № 5 (161), 1042—1049

UDK [930.85:929.7:316.6](477)”653/654″




  • Сandidate of History (Ph. D),
  • Deputy Director for Research,
  • State Scientific Center for Protection
  • of Cultural Heritage
  • from Technological Disasters,
  • 56, ave. Peremogy, 03057, Kyiv, Ukraine,
  • Contacts: e-mail:


  • 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:

Abstract. Introduction: The Ukrainian gentry, as a special social group, had separate, inherent in it, elements of traditional culture. Problem Statement: For a long time, the Ukrainian society was dominated by the opinion about the absence of its own national elite, which was supposed to lead the common people. Therefore, it is worth finding aristocratic features in the life of the small gentry, which was weakly amenable to assimilation, being among the ordinary peasantry, becoming a trendsetter and innovator. Purpose: To consider the features of the material and spiritual culture of the Ukrainian small gentry that served as the basis for its separation among ordinary people and the preservation of social identity. Methods: Relying on archival, published data, realistic descriptions in fiction, to highlight the features of a gentry culture that were markers of social identity in the rural environment.

Results: In the construction of housing, it differed almost nothing from ordinary peasants, although in detail it often differed from the latter. Gentries from different regions of Ukraine installed urban furniture in the house: beds, chests of drawers, cabinets, etc. Gentry attire mainly corresponded to the clothes of the rural population of the 19th  early 20th centuries, but it had certain bourgeois elements. In general, the gentry, who was the arbiter of fashion, influenced the clothes of ordinary peasants, who adopted certain items of clothing from the former. Gentries and peasants grouped separately in the church, school, inn, they mocked at each other. The petty gentry had some, albeit minor, differences from the peasants in spiritual culture. Considering themselves a segment slightly higher than the peasants, the gentry, with few exceptions, tried to maintain their caste isolation by marrying only among themselves.

Conclusion: The Ukrainian petty gentry in the 19th — early 20th centuries deliberately supported more-or-less significant differences in household culture, thus trying to emphasize their nobility and rise above «the churl» and «the bumpkin».

Keywords: gentry, Ukraine, material culture, spiritual culture, social identity.

Received 28.07.2021


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