Thursday, August 22, 2013

Vintage Ukrainian Rushnyks with Crochet Trims

This coming Saturday, August 24, Ukraine will celebrate its independence.  

For many centuries Ukraine was a part of the Russian Empire. Back in the 18th and 19th centuries, Ukraine was even referred to as Malorossia (“Little Russia”). In the early 20th century when the Russian Empire collapsed, Ukraine struggled to gain its independence, but it wasn’t meant to happen. And only after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine finally became an independent country.

I was born and grew up in Ukraine. And even though I have lived in the USA for over a decade now, my Ukrainian heritage is very important to me. What is more, I want to pass it on to my children.  Each year on August 24, we celebrate our Ukrainian heritage and ancestry.

Today I want to show you beautiful Ukrainian rushnyks (handmade towels that are used for ceremonial events or decorating), which I received from my aunt when I left Ukraine.

Isn’t that embroidery gorgeous? The colors faded on the small rushnyk in the middle, but the other two are still quite bright.

Notice the crocheted trims. They shrank with the time and the original snow-white color changed to brownish yellow. And yet I find them very beautiful and special.

I will use these rushnyks to decorate my dining room for the upcoming celebration. Here is a picture that I took a few years ago, when I used one of the rushnyks as a table runner for my Ukrainian tablescape.  

Ukrainian table setting

When I was a child, I remember my grandparents’ small hut in the Ukrainian countryside decorated with lots of rushnyks. My grandmother hanged rushnyks on the walls over the icons (religious depictions of Jesus Christ, Mary, or Saints) as well as over collages of old photographs. In a huge old chest she had even more rushnyks, embroidered gowns and linens with crocheted trims. I wonder now what ever happened to all those things.

I'm linking to Link Your Stuff @ Annamarie's Haakblog
Show and Tell Friday @ My Romantic Home,


  1. Olga, I think it is wonderful that you celebrate your heritage and teach your children about it. Those pieces are so beautiful, so delicate and intricate. I think I would have them displayed all the time.

    Hugs to you,

  2. How interesting! They are very beautiful!!! I would use them and display them with pride!!! What brought you to the US?
    xo Kris

  3. Very interesting - I had never heard of rushnyks before! What a wonderful textile tradition :) All three of your heirlooms are absolutely gorgeous, in both stitching and crochet. I really enjoyed seeing the pictures!

  4. Olá Olga,
    Feliz comemoração.
    Essas peças são belíssimas, um primor!
    Sei que mostrará essas peças com muito orgulho Olga.

  5. Beautiful embroidery!! Keep up the traditions and teach your children well! С днём независимости!

  6. Beautiful embroidery and tradition! <3

  7. Вітаю з України!!! Дякую за те що ти зберігаєш традиції!! Дуже прємно читати твій блог. Вітаю з Днем Незалежності!!!

  8. It looks very beautiful !! Thanks for sharing this information about Ukraine !!

  9. What wonderful memories and beautiful workmanship. It is so important to pass your traditions and arts down to your children. So many people fail to pass their traditions on and soon they are gone forever.

  10. Ольга, красивые рушники и вышивка и кайма, связанная крючком. Мне приходилось видеть не мало таких рушников, но в домах-музеях. Ваша тетя сделала ценные подарки!

  11. My Great Grandmother was from Russia Kars... and recently I got to get into her trunk that had been sitting at Mom 's all my life she died the year I was born. So I never got to meet her.. sadly.. but she had some wonderful things inside. Many items with crocheted edging like these.. two large beautiful Red embroidered pillow cases and several other Items.. I was so happy I open it up.. My mother never told me there was anything in it.. Your pieces are beautiful very much.. wonderful color and beautiful edgings .. Happy Wednesday with love Janice

  12. I enjoyed reading this entry. I too am of Ukrainian descent, a 3rd generation Ukrainian American. Thank you for keeping our traditions alive. Even as Ukraine's native population declines, we must let them and the world know that, "Ми не забули, звідки ми приходимо." America is my right hand but Ukraine is my left. I need both to live on.

  13. Olga, I love seeing you beautiful Ukranian rushnyks. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Karen, thanks for stopping by. I'm glad to know you liked my rushnyks.

  14. They are gorgeous --- what a treasure for you!