Hut of Podillya

A hut of Podillya is white and ornate decorated with garlands of ash trees and snowball trees. This is how it is usually depicted in works of Ukrainian classical writers and on pictures of artists.

In Podillya there was a tradition to paint dwellings both outside and inside, especially if in a hut lived a marriageable girl.

Paintings in anteroom

Anteroom was usually decorated with modest ornaments comprising symbols of prosperity, land, sun, alteration of day and night, dynamics, motion, and eternity. Women, who painted huts, sometimes did not even know the meaning of ornaments; they just replicated paintings of their mothers and grandmothers.

In the southeast of Podillya, for painting people usually used clay, many tints of which contained the strata of the Dniester river slopes. They pulverized hardened dry pieces of clay with stones or pounded them in a stone mortar, blended the powder with water and used it as paint.


Indispensable element of paintings was a flowerpot; the other widespread ornament components were flowers, branches, and garlands. Doves, cocks, and some other birds were ever-present zoomorphic elements. As a rule, people depicted on the stove a pair of doves. The stove embodied homely home, and doves were symbols of faithfulness, harmony, and love. Pictures of an oak tree, a snowball tree, or a periwinkle on the stove meant unity of a man and a woman, a family. A nest with nestlings signified presence of children in the family.



Hut interior

Aspiration for prosperity engendered frequent pictures of peacocks. Peacock was a rare bird, and simple peasants could not allow having it in the household. That was a privilege of nobles. Therefore, peacocks were frequently depicted as decorative elements of paintings symbolizing future enrichment and prosperity. The other important elements in the paintings – poppies, geese, tassels, roses, gigs, curls, stars, and corn cobs – have a history of several centuries. Patterns and colours passed on from a mother to a daughter and from one neighbour to another. Some families had special flowers which they included into the ornament.

As a rule, women painted huts in spring before the Easter and then refreshed the paintings by Trinity Sunday.

Hut decorated with vytynankas

In some villages of the Dniester region, people decorated huts using not only paintings, but also vytynanka (open-work delicate decoration made by cutting out patterns of colour paper, wood, or plant work-pieces).

Vytynankas were more than mere decoration, they also served as talismans. For instance, cross-shaped vytynankas protected doors and windows from uninvited guests. Decoration on the stoves averted devilry coming through the chimney. Stoves often were ornamented with cocks, which as sun birds scared away evil spirits. Vytynankas on a joist of the ceiling by the cradle protected the baby. If the daughter remained unmarried too long, the whole family cut out the wedding vytynanka. In this way, people also "helped" to give birth to a baby or to get one's heart's desire.

Vytynankas also depicted scenes of everyday life, household activities, holidays, etc. Often they were combined with painted decoration.


Oksana Horodynska, paint-artist of Ukraine


See a photo-gallery of this Hut