Hut of Polissya

  Hut from Didkovychi village, Korosten’ area, Zhytomyr region.

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The hut from Didkovychi village represents interior traditional for the area of Zhitomyr Polissya of the 19th – beginning of the 20th centuries. The ethnographic items in the hut were brought from Didkovychi and Bekhy villages of Korosten’ area, Sarnovychi village of Narodychi area, Levkovychi and Dumins’ke villages of Ovruch area. The hut comprises both features traditional for entire Ukraine and specific peculiarities of Polissya. The exposition represents traditional Ukrainian trades and handicrafts, such as weaving, embroidery, carving, coopering, wild-hive beekeeping, pottery, plaiting, and others.

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The hut consists of three rooms: a living room (which was traditionally called hut), an anteroom, and a storeroom. In the living room to the right of the door was the traditional location of a stove and to the left of the door hung mysnyk (shelves with tableware).

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On the pole above the bed and on the bed are presented women’s and men’s garments. Among the women’s clothes are homespun and embroidered shirts, “andaraks” (homespun woolen skirts), kraikas (ethnic belts), and zapaskas (pieces of clothing worn as skirts). The women’s shirts, pillowcases, and linen have been weaved and embroidered by Kateryna Bekh from Bekhy village. To the men’s clothes exposed here belong embroidered shirts of homespun linen as well as factory-made trousers and homespun linen pants. By the bed there are women’s wooden shoes decorated with carving.

Next to the stove by the wall stood a sleeping deck or a bed (as in this hut) with a pole for garments above it. Nearby there was a cradle hanging on the ceiling. Among the other traditional pieces of furniture in a Ukrainian dwelling were a table, a trunk, benches, and chairs. Fixed benches were placed by the walls; later in some houses they have been replaced by couches.

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Opposite the entrance by the wall stand a weaver’s loom and a wooden couch with a table and a bench in front of it. The trunk in the corner has traditional for this region painted ornament. Here are represented various woven items: carpets, towels, sackcloths, rugs, shirts, tablecloths, and flax or hemp homespun linens. In Polissya, weaving was well developed and functioned almost till the end of the 20th century.

In pokut’ (the sacred corner opposite to the stove) and on the walls were traditionally placed icons. In this hut folk home icons of the 19th century painted on wood and lithographs of the end of the 19th – beginning of the 20th centuries are exposed. Icons were traditionally decorated with zavyeski – long woven towels. By the icons hangs a picture painted on glass depicting a pair of doves. There is also a mirror hanging on the wall to the left of the entrance.

The carpets and rugs displayed in the hut originate from Levkovychi, Didkovychi, and Bekhy villages. Rugs from Levkovychi are decorated with ancient traditional ornaments bearing specific names “v kozaki” (depicting Cossacks), “v kvyetki”, “v makovki” (floral ornaments), “posvyet”, “vyetryachki” (windmills) etc. On the bed and on the stove lie various rugs homespun of plain yarn and dyed. There are also homespun pillowcases and pillows from Bekhy village decorated with geometrical plant ornament on the bed.

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In the stove area and on mysnyk are presented traditional pottery items of Polissya: pots, jars, jugs, etc. By the stove in the corner stand rohachi (instruments for pots handling), pokers, a wooden spade, and a wooden barrel for dough. On the ceiling opposite the stove was installed posvit (a torch of splinters for hut lighting). It was attached to the pipe which withdrew smoke through the opening in the ceiling.

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In the anteroom and in the living room are exposed various tools for hemp, flax, and wool treatment. Among them are fiber beaters for stems crumbling, combs, brushes for fiber and wool carding, spinning wheels, tows, spindles, reels, etc. In the anteroom also hang women’s and men’s outerwear.

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In the storeroom and in the anteroom are presented many household wooden items (huge containers for grain storage made of entire tree trunks, gouged tubs, barrels, casks, and kegs) and wickerwork pieces (baskets and burses of rod, pine roots, lime and oak bast), as well as various woodworking instruments.

In the middle of the storeroom by the wall stands a chest decorated with traditional for Polissya painted ornament.

There is also an exposition of wild-hive beekeeping implements including various knives for honey gathering and beekeeper’s protective clothing in the storeroom and wild-hives made of hollowed tree trunks in front of the hut.

Having visited the hut of Polissya, you can learn a lot about everyday life of polishchuky (inhabitants of the region), and ethnographic items brought from Zhytomyr region give an idea of traditional trades, handicrafts, and arts widespread in this part of Ukraine.

See photo-gallary of this Hut