To reveal Ukraine to the world, not only through the prism of its struggle for freedom and independence but also through its cultural heritage, an event was held in Kyiv, showcasing some of the hallmarks of Ukrainian folk art.

Video materials were presented dedicated to four Ukrainian traditional crafts: Kosiv painted ceramics, hutnytstvo – glassblowing, Reshetylivka white on white embroidery, and pysankarstvo – egg painting.

As Rostyslav Karandeyev, Ukraine’s acting cultural minister told Kyiv Post at the “Etnika: Ukrainian Arts & Crafts” event on Sept. 27, it is necessary to help the international community “feel Ukraine is part of world culture.”

Ukraine is absolutely ready to enter the community of Western countries not only with its legislation – but also with its values, Karandeyev said.

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“Even more, we are ready to enter the world community with our culture. We have a very good and optimistic prospect,” he said.

Rostyslav Karandeyev, the acting Minister of Culture of Ukraine. Photo: Kateryna Zakharchenko.

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Many Ukrainians view raising awareness of Ukrainian traditions and cultural heritage as a tool for countering Russian disinformation. Russia claims Ukrainian heritage and history for itself whilst denying the existence of Ukraine as a nation and Ukrainians as a people, they say. 

“We hope that this information campaign will become a tool to fight the cultural repression of the past, and will also unite Ukrainians through pride in their traditions and craftsmen,” said Tawnia Sanford Ammar, SURGe Program Director.

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Tawnia Sanford Ammar, SURGe Program Director. 

As Ulyana Khromyak, an expert on creative industries told Kyiv Post, Ukrainian culture is underestimated and not widely known.

“Unfortunately, not all foreigners know us – Ukrainians. The war has made its own adjustments. But apart from the war, we must show that our nation was not created yesterday, but has a long tradition,” Khromyak said.

Ulyana Khromyak, an expert on creative industries.

Khromyak said that Ukraine’s Ministry of Culture is therefore highly focused on showing the world Ukraine’s unique cultural traditions.

“We are now promoting Ukrainian culture for a foreign audience so that foreigners invest in Ukrainian creative industries, folk crafts and the audiovisual art of Ukraine,” Khromyak said.

The Second Secretary of the Canadian Embassy in Ukraine Heather Patterson also joined the event. 

She said that the information campaign will help show Ukraine not only as a country in a war where brave people are fighting for their freedom, but also as a country of people with deep cultural traditions.

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The Second Secretary of the Embassy of Canada in Ukraine Heather Patterson

Patterson’s government finances the Support to Ukraine's Reforms for Governance (SURGe) which hosted the event in collaboration with Ukraine’s Ministry of Culture. 

The first video presented was dedicated to Hutnytstvo – the tradition of glassblowing. The tradition of glass production – one of Ukraine’s oldest folk crafts – is said not to have been around for the past 1000 years.

The tradition of Kosiv painted ceramics is a tradition of the Hutsul people – the highlanders living in the Hutsul region of Ukraine’s Carpathian mountains. Kosiv painted ceramics were enshrined by UNESCO in 2019 on a representative list of the intangible cultural heritage of mankind. It dates back more than three centuries.

Kosiv painted ceramics are characterized by a combination of three colors – green, yellow and brown. They also sometimes feature blue. They are used in everyday life and as decorative interior elements. 

Craftsmen organically combine the heritage of previous generations with innovative objects and techniques, creating new artistic layers for the ceramics.

The next craft presented was Reshetylivka or “white on white” embroidery.

Reshetylivka embroidery has a bright recognizable style – white threads on white fabric. The most common products are towels and embroideries, on which embroiderers use up to 10 different embroidery techniques.

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Reshetylivka embroidery originates from Reshetylivka, a village in Ukraine’s Poltava Region. It is on the National List of Elements of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Ukraine and it has been submitted for consideration for inclusion into the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Finally, the tradition of Pysankarstvo, or egg-decorating, was presented. Pysanky, the decorated eggs, differ from region to region in ornamentation and color. 

The egg-painting is accompanied by unique preparation and specialized customs, with symbolic patterns expressing Ukrainians’ world view.

“We offer the world something unique, something they (foreign audiences) are not used to,” Karandeyev said of Ukrainian folk art.

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