”Nowhere is the landscape more spectacular, with the people to match, than the deep, dark mystical forests that cover the mountains and valleys of extreme south eastern Ukraine. This is a landscape that has molded the people who inhabit it. The Hutsuls are the human embodiment of remote, rugged beauty.’’(Europe between East and West, blog)
Maintaining strong sense of identity can be a successful way of preserving the cultural heritage of ethnic communities. Hutsuls are one of the groups that make great effort to pass their culture on to the younger generations.
Hutsuls are an ethnic group of Carpathian highlanders inhabiting parts of Western Ukraine and Romania. The name hutsul derives from kochul (‘nomad’) and described people of Kievan Rus’ who escaped the Mongol invasion into the Carpathian Mountains in the 13th century (Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine, online source).
Hutsuls created an original local culture in the hard mountain conditions away from known trade routes, main roads and big cities. Their traditional occupations consisted of forestry, herding, cattle breeding and hunting. They were particularly skilled in breeding small, strong horses -Hutsul ponys.
The Hutsul cultural heritage is mostly carried on through:
- ornamental and embroidered clothing inspired by nature and landscape around them
Figures 3 and 4
- handicraft and arts like wooden carving, metalworking, ceramics, Easter egg painting and kilim weaving (colourful, decorative materials that can be used as rugs or hung on the wall) (Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine)
- music, highlander songs, dance and usage of folk instruments, especially accordion, cymbals and trembitas -large wooden horns also used for announcing important celebrations or warn about the danger (Haratyk A. 2014)
- rich traditions and rituals embraced in everyday life and during celebrations (lively and colourful Hutsul weddings)
- legends and folktales of important people, places and events used as a form of education on social norms, believes and acceptable behaviours
- Hutsul dialect (based on Western Ukrainian and elements of Polish)
The awareness of cultural heritage is inscribed in the life of today’s Hutsuls. Children are trained in folk arts and crafts since the early age and adults make sure to cultivate traditional methods of food preservation, animals breeding and conventional equipment usage. (Haratyk, A. 2014)
Organisations like The Hutsul Association are promoting the Hutsul heritage within the community and outside of it (including Hutsul societies abroad in Canada and United Kingdom).
Numerous museums are also operating in the region: National Museum of Hutsulshchyna and Pokuttya Folk Art in Kolomya or Hutsul Folk Life and Art Musem in Kosiv to name a few.
Promotion of regional identity is a main objective of Internation Hutsul Festival taking place every year in Yeremche, Ukraine.
http://www.encyclopediaofukraine.com/display.asp?linkpath=pages%5CH%5CU%5CHutsuls.htm – Hutsuls, Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (accessed 29/10/18)
https://europebetweeneastandwest.wordpress.com/2015/02/12/no-tourist-in-their-right-minds-getting-to-know-the-hutsuls-ukraines-highlanders/ No Tourist in Their Right Mind- Getting To Know The Hutsuls: Ukraine’s Highlanders, Europe between East and West, WordPress blog (accessed 29/10/18)
Haratyk, A. (2014). The forming of the ethnic identity of Hutsul highlanders. Czech-Polish Historical and Pedagogical Journal, 6/1, 68–76 doi: 10.247/cphpj-2014-0008
http://ukrainianheritagefound.com/hutsul.html -Ukrainian Heritage Foundation (accessed 30/10/18)
http://hutsul.museum/eng/ – National Museum of Hutsulshchyna and Pokuttya Folk Art (accessed 29/10/18)
Figure 1: https://desa.pl/en/auctions/256/object/29354/gustaw-pillati-hutsuls-in-front-of-a-church –desa, design website
Figure 2: http://folkcostume.blogspot.com/2011/02/hutsul-costume-part-1.html – FolkCostume&Embroidery, blog
Figure 3 and 4: http://hutsul.museum/eng/collection/- National Museum of Hutsulshchyna and Pokuttya Folk Art
Figures 5, 6, 7, 8: http://hutsul.museum/eng/collection/- National Museum of Hutsulshchyna and Pokuttya Folk Art
Figure 9: http://faina.design/en/blog/trembita –faina.design, blog