Comparing Folk Dress of Some East European People
The Ukrainian and Chuvash embroidery and folk dress
The thought of a possible comparison Ukrainian and Chuvash embroidery arose after finding out that the ancient Bulgars occupied territory of Western Ukraine for two thousand years, which is confirmed by place names and some lexical matches between the Chuvash and German, Chuvash and Slavic languages (especially West Slavic ones). When the majority of Bulgarians moved to the Black Sea steppes, yet some of them remained in the old settlements until such time as these have been replaced by Slavs, actually that part of them which gave rise to Ukrainian ethnos. The remains of the Bulgars were gradually assimilated by numerous Slavs, but they influenced on the Slavic culture clearly. Traces of such influence can be found in the Ukrainian embroidery, which is characterized by the use of signs of Water, Sun and Tree of Life as emotional images of nature, symbols of harvest, fertility. These characters are typical for the Chuvash embroidery too.
The State Emblem of the Republic of Chuvashia
The National Flag of the Republic of Chuvashia
The Tree of life in Ukrainian embroidery
The State Emblem of the Ukraine
The importance of the symbol of Tree of Life for Chuvash world outlook is confirmed by that it is a central element of The National Emblem and Flag of the Republic of Chuvashia. Three eight-pointed stars also placed on them in addition to the Tree of Life symbolizing the Sun.
The left and right figures of Ukrainian embroidery patterns can be seen in the likeness to the image of Tree of Life, as well as a distinctive geometric pattern that resembles the shape of a tree on the Chuvash National Emblem. The symbol of the Sun is usually depicted by Ukrainians and Chuvash in the form of eight-petal rosette or flower. Following are rosettes symbolizing the sun. Two the left are Chuvash (in embroidery and stone carving), two on the right are Ukrainian. Ukrainian variants of the rosettes have different signs of the Chuvash.
An old Chuvash, a girl, and a fellow in Chuvash folk dresses. Such rich embroidery is characteristic for Ukrainian folk dress too.
Sketches of Ukrainian national clothes by the artist
A. Perepelursia (the left – Bukovina, right – Volhynia).
Noteworthy rich embroidery on different parts of the Chuvash clothes and Ukrainian national costumes
The following shows examples from the collection of watercolors of Lviv artist and ethnographer Polish-born Yuri Głogowski (1777 - 1838).
The artist devoted for Ukrainian theme more than 350 pictures mainly from western Ukraine. He portrayed the residents of this area mainly in upper garments, so the set of the characteristic patterns of embroidery is extremely limited. In addition, examples of Hutsul clothing preserved most archaic elements preserved are just a few. An excerpt from the book "Ukrainian People's Dress of XVII - XIX century in Yu. Glogowski's watercolors" (Ed. D.P. Krwawich, G.G. Stelmashchuk. Kyyv. Naukova Dumka. 1988.)
A Hutsul. 1834 .
19,2х12,9 cm.
A girl from Kolomyia. 1834.
14,4х10,5 cm.
A Girl from Stryi (Lviv Region)
A peasant-woman from Shklo (Yavoriv district, Lviv Region) 1834 . 20,3х12,5
A peasant-woman from Belz district (Sokal district, Lviv Region) 1834. 23,4х14,3
There is on the extreme left the figure of a Hutsul without indication of a residence areas and in a somewhat unusual attire, even for the end of the XIX cen. However, attention is drawn by a headdress in the form of an elongated cone. It remind Chuvash old hat on the picture above. According to the authors of the mentioned book, "this form of headdress was recorded in Hutsulia in the XVIII century by Balthazar Gacket (German ethnographer who has devoted many years to the study of life and living of Hutsuls in the XVIII century. – V.S.) and I. Vahylevych (40 years of the XIX cen.)". The authors believe that the cut a cone-shaped hats is very old resembling the wattled cowls of the XI century and say, "carving out and sewing cone-shaped cap is much easier than a cap made of sheepskin with a spherical top which needs a corresponding wooden model. Therefore, we can say that sketched by Yu Głogowski Hutsul cap has sure archaic features". Apparently, the Chuvash also retained the same old form of their caps.
The examples of women's costume are shown next on the right. Embroidery details are mostly hidden on the two pictures, but it can be noted general similarities with the Chuvash clothes in apron and red embroidery on the hem edge. In addition, the left girl has sleeve embroidered by similar manner and color as at the Chuvash girl on the photo above.
Above: Chuvash embroidered shirt. Right: Ukrainian chemise "rukavenka". Beginning of the twentieth century, the village of Chernyatin Gorodenka district, Ivano-Frankivsk Region. From the private collection of Ivan Grechko. Photo of Oksana Tkachuk. Characteristically, the most ancient type of Chuvash and Ukrainian shirts is a so-called tunic cut.
Ukrainian embroidered towel with flowers - symbols of the Sun. Photo taken from the website: Podillya with signs the Sun.
Embroidered napkins. At the top of the Chuvash, left two Ukrainian.
Right: Woven belts: on a light background - Chuvash, on a dark background - Ukrainian.
Chuvash towel to the left, two Ukrainian ones to the right. Some of the elements and the composition are quite similar.
If not national caps, these Chuvash women could be mistaken for Ukrainians.
Photo from web-site

Chăvash tĕnchi (Chuvash world).
Ukrainians are distinguished from Chuvash almost only by wreaths on their heads. The common element of the female dresses is apron.
Song and Dance Ensemble "Podillja" Vinnytsia Philharmonic.
Chuvash folk costume distinguishes from the Ukrainian nothing more than costumes of different ethnic groups of Ukrainians. Cf. Photo above from left to right costumes of Hutsuls, Podolyan, and Volynian, by artists Z. Vasina, T. Nikolaenko, and O. Slipchak taken from the book "Culture i Life of the population of the Ukraine" (Editor J.G. Medyuk).
In the far right photo Chuvash woman in national costume (Photo from web-site
"Year of Family").
Costumes of other peoples
It is noteworthy that the Chuvash national costume, having a certain similarity with the Ukrainian one, is significantly different from the patterns of clothes of their close neighbors - Tatars, Mari, Mordva-erzya.
Below: Samples of Mari and Tatar folk clothes.
Tatars and Chuvash are close to each other in language, but their costumes are quite dissimilar.
Left: Tatar girl in a typical Tatar clothing (Photo from web-site
"Year of Family"). Another Tatar girl in a similar outfit and Tatar boy (illustration from the web-site "Tatar national costume"). On the extreme right of the picture - the samples of the Mari national costume, taken from the web-site Ministry of Culture, Media and Ethnic Affairs of the Republic of Mari El. Attention is drawn to the use of fur of wild animals for Tatar and Mari folk costumes, rarely used in the Chuvash national dress. Although Mari embroidery is reminiscent Chuvash one, but it is easier, and the common elements can be explained by mutual cultural influences.
Women's Clothing of southern neighbors of Chuvash Mordvins Erzya and Moksha has a more easy embroidery, but has a large number of ornaments and decorations using of multi-colored ribbons, which are absent in Chuvash suit. Above left: two samples of Mordvinic national women's clothing from the site "Finno-Ugric Cultural Center of the Russian Federation". Right: Another type of Mordovia national costume from the site Year of Family".
Russian women's clothes until the XIX century was clearly distinguished by three types: complex with skirts (Southern), with sundresses (Northern Russia), a shirt and a skirt. The most common were the first two served on the left sarafan, righter: skirt (Lipetsk Region) Sundress is used by women's clothing of Mordovia (see photo above). In the far right photo supplied another version of Russian national costume from the site "Year of Family". As far as he is a typical, hard to say, but it is quite unique and different from both the Ukrainian clothes, and from the Chuvash to a large extent.
Above: Detail of Ossetian embroidery. Right: Ossetian headdress and national costume
Ossetian embroidery samples are also given for comparison. It is easy to see that this is a completely different style and different technique, not a disabled nothing to do with the Chuvash, nor Ukrainian samples. If the Ossetians would be the descendants of the Scythians, then Ukrainian and Ossetian embroidery would have some similarity.
Instructions on page illustrations are taken from the site "Chuvash National Costume" and from other Chuvashian sites. Samples of Ukrainian national costume and embroidery are mainly drawn from the book of T. Kara Vasilyeva "History of Ukrainian embroidery," from the book "Ivan Grechko" (Compiled Taras Lozinski).
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