Western Ukraine

Traditional Pysanky




Although it occupies only one third of the Ukrainian land mass, the western part of Ukraine hosts a majority of the ethnic groups of Ukraine, and has a huge variety of traditional pysanka styles and designs. 

The huge variety is probably due to the landscape: this part of the country is, geographically speaking, much more varied than the east, consisting of mountains, forests, forest-steppes and steppes. In biology it is well known that isolation due to geography causes speciation; in ethnography, the same can be said about the development of ethnic groups within a nation. In the map above, a large member of ethnic groups are found in the mountains (that burst of color around Ivano-Frankivsk).  North and east of this are much larger groups; they reside in areas of forests and steppes.

The pysanky of Ukraine's mountain dwellers are among the most intricate and complex, and the most varied.  The Hutsuls and Bukovynians write some of the most diverse and most detailed pysanky in Ukraine.  The Lemky, alone among Ukrainians, have taken to drop-pull and mastered the art. The Boiky create intricate linear designs. Their pysanky are discussed in a separate “Carpathian Ukraine” section.

Although often less intricate, the pysanky of the people of the forests and steppes of western Ukraine are no less interesting. They run the gamut from quite simple to quite detailed, and from geometric to purely floral.  Among the most striking are the pysanky of Podillia, with their odd, stylized representations of the Berehynia, the female goddess, symbols which date back to the early pre-history of pagan Ukraine.

Below is a key to the ethnic groups delineated in the map above (and a translation of the relevant groups follows).  Not shown in this map is Sokal, a small ethnic enclave in L’viv oblast, situated between the Volynian and Roztochia ethnic regions.  It has, at times, been assigned to one or the other of these ethnicities (and appears to be included with Volyn in the map above), but is unique enough, with hugely different embroidery and pysanka designs, that it should have its own designation, so I have given it its own section.  The floral pysanky of Sokal (and the black embroidery) are unlike any others.


Kholm, Pidliashia








An annotated outline can be found on the next page.

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The Traditional Pysanky of Western Ukraine