Detail of a "rushnyk." Ukrainian Rushnyky. Courtesy Frank Sciacca and Museum of Russian Icons.

February 15 through June 10, 2018
Museum of Russian Icons (MA)

From the museum:

The Museum of Russian Icons presents “Rushnyky: Sacred Ukrainian Textiles,” an exhibition celebrating and exploring Ukrainian culture through one of its most ancient and valued traditions. The exhibition will feature more than 80 rushnyky, Ukrainian icons, and related artifacts.

Ukrainian Rushnyky. Courtesy Frank Sciacca and Museum of Russian Icons.

What are rushnyky?

Rushnyky are ornately embroidered woven textiles that function at the core of many life-cycle ceremonies and rituals of the Ukrainian people. A rushnyk is a long rectangular cloth, typically handwoven in one solid piece from white linen or hemp, measuring 6-8 feet long by 1-2 feet wide. They are often adorned with brightly colored patterns; the symbolic decoration preserves archaic magical signs, symbolic colors and motifs, as well as Slavic artistic folk styles. Some cloths are decorated with intricate white-on-white satin stitch, cutwork, lace, and drawn thread work embroidery. Rushnyky have distinctive regional characteristics. For example, in central Ukraine, cloths typically feature the tree of life surrounded by animal, bird, and floral motifs.

Ukrainian Rushnyky. Courtesy Frank Sciacca and Museum of Russian Icons.

Steeped in tradition and faith, the shape of the rushnyk represents life’s journey, and the cloths are believed to be a median between the secular and the divine. The process of spinning thread and weaving linen embodies spiritual power reflecting the ancient deity Mokosh, often represented in embroidery. The needle has its own energy (similar to the chi of acupuncture), and the color of the thread has sacred meaning. Red, for example, represents life and is the main color used.

Learn more about “Rushnyky: Sacred Ukrainian Textiles” at http://www.museumofrussianicons.org/


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