Ukrainian Embroidery Ornament

Ukrainian Embroidery Ornament

The key patterns of Ukrainian folk embroidery reflect the natural designs, their roots stretching back to antiquity. The centuries of history simplified images in the embroidery.

The ornaments include three types: geometric (abstract) type, plant type, zoomorphic (animal) type.

Ukrainian Embroidery Ornament

Geometric ornaments

The geometric ornaments are the oldest as their images have been simplifying over centuries; such patterns as Ram's Horns, Ringlets, Starts, Comb, Curves, Endless Rings (Bezkonechnyk as known right since the Trypillia civilization) have managed to survive up to our days. The abstract ornaments are inherent in every part of Ukraine.

Rhombus is perhaps the most common element for the abstract patterns of Ukrainian embroidery. According to the ancient beliefs of Slavic tribes, the rhombuses, symbolizing the Devi of Earth, were an amulet for a good luck and secured fertility. That is why the embroidery bearing such symbols often decorates women's cloths and typically applies on a headdress, breast and rucksack, or, in the case of men's cloths, on a rucksack, as well as on a sleeve and shirt tail.

Aqua and Sun icons appear at any Ukrainian embroidery. The Sun is often depicted as an octagonal knot or a flower, while the Aqua icon resembles a rolled water-snake. These two elements underpin the Earth life, hence constitute the ultimate founding.

Plant type ornament

The plant type ornament aims at incorporating in the embroidery the nature's beauty. Ukrainian embroidery also often uses such patterns as vine, hops, oak leaves, rose, guelder rose etc. Some of them bear the imprint of the concepts shared by our remote ancestors. In the modern embroidery, the old symbol of Tree of Life is also quite common, its images usually styled to leaves and branches only.

Guelder rose is a symbol of our Ukrainian origin. That is why the wedding rushnyk (embroidered towel), women's and even men's shirts are often ornamented with mighty clusters of the Guelder rose.

Oak is a holy tree incarnating the Perun, the divine power of men's energy, development, life. Embroidered oak leaves always decorated the traditional men's shirts.

Vine makes a symbol of a family. The Vine is common for both men's and women's shirts, as well as for a family rushnyk. Poppy carries inside the unforgettable memory of the kindred.

Lilly preserves inside the enigma of life. A sign that resembles Cross certainly completes the Lilly ornament. This sign is magic, so it blesses the couple for setting a family. That is to say, the Cross makes an ancient symbol for merging the paternal and maternal energy. Sometimes, there are drops of dew stitched over the flower thus designating the conception.

The Rose for Ukrainians is a dearly held flower. Figures of Rose would follow a plant ornament layout defining the endless solar movement of eternal rebirth. The ornaments depicting the roses are popular all over Ukraine.

The figures reminding of the hops leaves rather belong to the youth markings. The hops figure could be understood as the wedding markings.

Animal ornament

The zoomorphic (animal) ornament embroidery more frequently depict the birds. These could be a swallow, a cuckoo, a pigeon, or, in the modern variants of this weave, a swan.

Any wedding rushnyk for sure would have some birds embroidered facing each other as though the just-married. The birds very often keep twigs in their beaks.

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