Symbolism of Ukrainian Embroidery

The sacred symbolism of embroidery has too ancient history to be ignored. The embroidery as a secret writing has been used since pre-Christian times when natural phenomena were identified with magical forces. Embroidery is like a prayer embodied in an artistic image. The ornaments inherent in embroidery can also be found on the walls of ancient churches, as a symbol of the fusion of paganism and Christianity in Ukrainian Orthodoxy.

 Ornament in art and architecture is a rhythmic alternation of various images, which (...) represent an arrangement of stylized plant, zoomorphic or anthropomorphic motifs.

  But the combination of embroidery elements is not like the combination of letters in the text; it is more like hieroglyphs, images that in certain combinations convey certain meanings; they are archetypes carriers. Or even more, it is a combination of verses and choruses in a song connected by a certain rhythm and rhyme, which, with the help of metaphors and comparisons, convey to us the idea of a poetic work.

  The ornament is not an alphabet that has emerged as a result of an agreement (such as Latin or Cyrillic).  It is the result of observations and systematic research on psychology and philosophy, conducted for centuries, starting from the time of the Trypillian culture. Also, the colour scheme is an integral part of the ornament which is never accidental. The traditional combination of black and red, or vice versa, multi-coloured compositions, have a considerable ideological and psychological load. This knowledge has been confirmed in the works of today's designers, psychovisual diagnosticians, and marketers, and now these are actively used in advertising (in logos, branding, etc.)

The ornament is a kind of Ukrainian feng shui with a reference to the area and the genetic code of the nation. For some reason, being carried away by its Chinese counterpart, we despised our own lifelength developments on this topic. After all, the idea of the unity of the four elements, as well as positioning in the cardinal directions, the confrontation of light and dark forces (energies), is also reflected in the Ukrainian traditional art.

 Although globalization leads not only to the genetic but also to the cultural mix of nations: when traditional assets are not just forgotten, they are more likely to be influenced by other cultures. American holly branches, French lavender, Irish Ivy and Clover, Japanese Sakura grow into traditional Ukrainian plant ornaments made of viburnum, rose, oak and mallow, and the Celtic intricacies and even the British and Scottish cage grow into geometric ones.

This is not good or bad, it is a natural evolutionary process that has occurred repeatedly in history and it is not worth resisting. For example, Turkish ornaments on shawls borrowed several centuries ago have long been perceived as part of the Ukrainian national costume, while Ukrainian Roksolana has become part of Turkish history, and Ukrainian "Shchedryk" adorns the British Royal Palace with its sound. However, it is worth making efforts to study and preserve your own heritage, if only because it is also a powerful lever of influence on the world's culture.

Among over a hundred varieties of embroidery techniques and stitches common on the territory of Ukraine, the cross-stitch has become the most popular one. It did not receive these laurels in vain, because this method of image transmission is the prototype of modern raster graphics, the development of which was started only in the late 70s of the last century. This proves once again that the connection between generations has not only a metaphorical, but also a literal meaning. And, just as the quality of a bitmap image is determined by its resolution, the quality and, accordingly, the price of embroidery is affected by its density, that is, the number of cross-pixels per unit area. It turns out that you can embroider anything with a cross (even your own photo), and in this sense embroidery is an extremely modern and technological art form.