10 Interesting Facts About Ukrainian Embroidered Shirts (Vyshyvankas)

Traditional embroidered shirts (Vyshyvankas) have always been our national symbol, the jewel in the crown of Ukraine and our authentic feature. Nowadays, even Hollywood stars express their wish to feel closer to Ukraine. The newest fashion trends include yellow and blue colors, flower crowns, and, of course, Ukrainian embroidered shirts!
Actors and musicians dressed in vyshyvankas appear in the streets, designers use Ukrainian ornaments in their collections. And, believe me, all that is for good reason!

Ukrainian embroidered shirt is not just an outfit; it is a true protective amulet. Here there are some most interesting facts about this piece of art you might not have heard about :)
1. The first embroidered garments in the territory of Slavonic countries had primarily religious meaning, and protected their owners from evil. That is why the shirts were decorated with ornaments on sleeves, collars, hem and everywhere where the body was open. There were special vyshyvankas for religious rituals and festive events. Embroidered shirts were given as presents to newborn babies in order to protect them from evil spirits. 
2. It turns out that vyshyvanka is one of the oldest Ukrainian attributes. Herodotus claimed that the Scythians who used to inhabit the territory of Ukraine for a long time wore clothes decorated with embroidery. Within the modern region of Cherkasy archaeologists found the images of men wearing something reminding Ukrainian national costume. The finding dated back to the 6th century AD. Similar shirts were assigned to the Trypillians.         
3. Shirts have always been embroidered by women, and that is why they were strongly charged emotionally, symbolized goodness, love and loyalty. Our ancestors’ ancient spell said "The shirt on one’s body is white and clean, so let the husband’s attitude towards his wife be the same". That is why the young girls had to embroider wedding shirts for their future husbands.
4. By the way, there is one more legend about special meaning of men’s vyshyvanka as a symbol of love. People say there should have been only one girl Chumack (Ukrainian salt merchant) could trust with washing his shirts. No one else could intrude into this sacred ritual. That is how Chumacks justified their loyalty to the beloved ones.
5. The first fashionable dresser who combined vyshyvanka with workaday clothes was Ivan Franko. He wore it under his jacket and together with modern garments. The writer appears on 20-Hryvnia note dressed exactly like that.
6. Each region of Ukraine has its specific vyshyvanka which differs from the others in embroidery technique and pattern. Actually, each area can boast its unique embroidered shirts.
7. The first TV-host who appeared live in vyshyvanka was Andrii Shevchenko. He was dressed like that when opening the "Elections Night" Telethon on "5 Kanal" (The 5th Channel). The others supported this tradition later on.
8. A lot of patterns used in embroidery decorations root back to the pagan times. For instance, sun symbols (or "thunder symbol", "the Wheel of Jupiter") are connected with the pagan High God Rod.
9. One of the most original vyshyvankas is the one from Borshchiv area. It is peculiar because of the rich use of black thread. There is a legend explaining such pattern. Long time ago, the Turks and Tatars killed almost all local men, and for several generations women wore such vyshyvankas. Moreover, in Borshchiv temple there is a unique icon with the Holy Virgin dressed in such vyshyvanka.
10. The embroidery patterns of vyshyvankas became so popular that nowadays they are applied not only to shirts! Lately, the new trend appeared – auto-vyshyvanka. Automobilists decorate their vehicles with special adhesive labels, and unique design is created for each customer.
The developers say that not only car owners order "vyshyvanka" labels because these labels can be used for each smooth surface. By the way, they gained popularity all over Ukraine. According to their words, the orders for auto-vyshyvanka come from other countries as well: Germany, Australia, and even New Zealand!

Traditional patterns began to appear on human bodies as well. Today, patriotic tattoos came to be No 1 with the Ukrainian youth. Some consider it a very favorable solution, and some call it nonsense. Well, the tastes differ. But if we talk about tattoos, you must admit that such image looks much better and more meaningful than incomprehensible quotes.
By the way, not only cars started wearing vyshyvankas. Pets also caught the patriotic theme up. Or, better say, their owners :) More and more cats and dogs appear on the Internet and in the streets dressed in Ukrainian national costumes. Again, this is quite controversial, and some may not like it. But, to tell the truth, that looks cute :)
That is how the world is becoming more and more Ukrainian: we accept it, it accepts us. And this is only the beginning!
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