The traditional clothing of Ukraine is a centuries old unique and distinctive emblem of theUkrainian culture. The traditional Ukrainian costume (costumes really!) has developed after a tremendous variation due to its association with the early Slavonic domination, during which many materials were introduced by merchants. Traditional Ukrainian costumes are full of ornamental designs, fantastic embroidery and remarkable craftsmanship. Even today, the national clothing of Ukraine is hand woven and fabulously decorated. The embroidery is an ancient practice which is applied to the traditional dress of Ukraine and it is varied from region to region in the country, embellished with antiquated motifs and harmonic arrangements full of colors and exotic stitches.
A separate chapter in the history of the Ukrainian costume are Ukrainian headdresses! Today we’ll look at just a couple of their varieties.
The Ochipok (namitka, peremitka, serpanok etc.) was a married woman's headdress as part of traditional Ukrainian folk dress, often decorated with Ukrainian embroidery.
Ochipok is a cap that covers the entire head with a slit in the back and laces that pull it tightly around the head.
They were mainly worn by women in the middle Dnipro River region, including the Left-Bank and steppe areas, however the ochipok was also used in other regions of Ukraine. It is thought to have originated during the Hetmanate period. The specific characteristics of the ochipok varied from region to region.
In Europe in the Middle Ages, uncovered hair was a sign of virginity. A married woman covered her hair completely, including forehead, ears and often the neck.
Namitka is a long, thin fabric wrapped around the head and tied in the back. It was the original Slavic head covering for men and women, and could be used to cover the face. Eventually, it gave rise to the kokoshnik. The ends of the fabric are embroidered, usually with red thread.
During the Ukrainian wedding ceremony, the bride's hair was covered by an ochipok and namitka. She would wear the ochipok for the rest of her life with various headgear on top of it.
Peremitka is part of traditional Hutsul dressis. It's a long strip of cloth ornamented on both ends and tied in knots on each side. It is worn wrapped around the hair, neck and chin.
Bavnytsia is an embroidered ring of cloth fitted around the head, open at the top, with a ring of fringe or gathers stitched to the top edge. It was covered with a namitka or a kerchief. Bavnytsia was traditional dress in Galicia.
Vinok Young girls and unmarried women traditionally wore flowered wreaths around their heads. Known as a vinok, the wreaths date back thousands of years and played a vital role in Kupalo celebrations.
On the day of Ivana Kupala, young women would place their wreaths in a river or lake along with a lit candle. If a woman’s vinok drifted away, she would marry. If the wreath remained in one spot, she would not. A vinok that sank was thought to represent the woman’s impending death, while an extinguished candle represented misfortune. Young men took matters into their own hands by diving after a special lady’s wreath. Some Ukrainian women still participate in this ancient fortune telling tradition.