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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

Ukrainian windmills immortalized in post stamps

15 November, 2012 - 00:00

Postal miniature sheet “Windmills of Ukraine” that contains art works of the graphic artist Yurii Lohvyn has been released. It consists of four stamps depicting windmills. Since traditionally windmills were a place where rural community met and youth often engaged in various fun activities, the author suggested another four coupons to expand the topic: winter – associated with Masnytsia, spring – with traditional spring songs, summer – with Midsummer night, and fall – with traditional youth gatherings.

It turns out that windmills originated in Persia. Historical records say that the first windmill appeared there in the year 644 AD. In the territory that is now Ukraine, it is a widely spread belief that windmills functioned here at the time of Kyivan Rus’. Typically, a windmill had four swings (wings), but there were also ones with six, eight and even ten wings. In the late 19th and early 20th century in Ukraine there were two types of windmills: pillar windmills and tower windmills. The construction of a pillar windmills (horizontal windmills) included a pillar, dug into the ground, and the body of the mill which rotated to wind with the help of a shaft. In tower windmills only the top part of the construction rotated and the base stood still. “The majority of windmills were built with no regard to the region, unlike houses,” Lohvyn says. “First of all, everything depended on the financial capacity of the owner and skills of the carpenter, because few of the windmills belonged to communities, as a rule, windmills were in private ownership. For example, in Kyiv and Poltava regions they were often made in a form of a narrow parallelogram. But in Chernihiv region windmills were built in a shape of a trapezium. Such structures could be tetrahedral, its walls were made of logs. There were especially many of such windmills on the Left Bank. In Polissia structures with six- or eight-sided body prevailed. Sometimes there were two-storied windmills, but the walls were usually made with beams, logs, or planks. I want to say that the fate of both watermills and windmills in Ukraine has been very sad and it clearly shared the fate of Ukrainian peasantry,” said the artist. “When de-kulakization began, nearly 90 percent of the millers who worked at both water- and windmills, stopped doing their work, which was often a family business. They completely lost their skills.

“By the way, this also had a negative effect on the nature because near each watermill there were entire cascades of dams and reservoirs, which ensured the gradual distribution of water. During the World War II they were completely destroyed, so that the mills would not be used by the enemy for artillery pointing or observation. Windmills always remind me of one of the greatest gastronomic holidays. It was March of 1945 when my grandmother came back from the windmill in the neighboring village of Horobiovtsi. She poured on a small saucer a bit of freshly squeezed oil. I don’t remember, but it seemed that the oil was still warm. She also put a bit of salt to the chopped onion. It tasted extremely delicious with a small piece of stale bread! And at the end I got toasted sunflower seeds. Well, no sweets today, I assure you, would beat the sweet smell and taste of that treat.”

By Valentyna OLIINYK