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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

A museum uses century-old looms for master classes in weaving

Rivne region activists revive folk crafts of the historic region of Volyn
27 February, 2013 - 18:23
Photo provided by the author

A unique living museum of Volynian weaving has been created in Rivne region. In addition to exploring its collection of antiquities, one can see weavers at work at century-old looms there. Already, a few craftswomen have mastered the ancient craft. However, the museum is only part of the massive project aimed to revive folk crafts of the historic region of Volyn. The organizers intend to establish an artisan’s settlement, including potters, coopers, and wicker-weavers.

The weaving workshop’s collection includes over 50 exhibits – spindles and distaffs, a warping board and a warping frame, and various looms. Authentic clothing is to be displayed, too, with some clothing items being quite rare. This category includes chemerka, men’s outer garment worn into the early 19th century. This kind of attire was worn at holidays and only by young men from better-off peasant families. Chemerka looks like svytka (traditional Ukrainian coat), but is slightly longer. It was made of milled wool and decorated with ornamental embroidery.

“The collection, which will be on show at the weaving workshop in Radyvyliv, Rivne region, is an unusual one,” says the author of the project, the head of the Volyn Revival Research Center NGO Volodymyr Dziobak, “since it will display mainly exhibits from southern Volyn. Such focus is rare, for this territory saw traditional household items and folk crafts disappear sooner than it happened, say, in Polissia, where many reasons combined to protect archaic elements throughout the local culture. The collection includes several types of looms that were once used both in Volyn and in the neighboring regions. We have a homemade loom, made at home approximately in the 1930s, and a specimen of the so-called Austrian type of the early 20th century. We have some looms restored and put to work, while some again have been copied exactly and these copies put to work, too. We have a fifth of our projected exhibition ready at the moment. Craftspeople from Kyiv, Lviv, and Lutsk came to Radyvyliv district to revive the ancient craft, which, by the way, dates back to the Neolithic period. We have our own weavers already who have mastered several ancient techniques. We are now reproducing woven products that were widespread in Volyn over a hundred years ago. Overall, Radyvyliv weaving center will become one of the few support and development centers for this ancient craft.”

The second phase of the living museum is to be opened in the summer of 2013. The project’s authors intend to organize an all-Ukrainian weaving festival at the same time.

By Tetiana ILNYTSKA, Rivne