Museum of Russian Icons to Host Exhibition Celebrating Ukrainian Culture
Thursday, January 11, 2018
The exhibit will be on display February 15 to June 10, 2018 and feature over 80 textiles.
A rushnyk is a long rectangular cloth, typically handwoven in one solid piece from white linen or hemp, measuring 6-8 feet long by 1-2 feet wide.
The word rushnyk (singular; plural rushynky) derives from ruka, the Russian word for hand. Traditionally made at home by women who start learning to spin, weave, and embroider the cloths at a very young age; today most rushnyky are machine made using modern materials, and can be purchased in retail establishments.
The exhibition is curated by Franklin Sciacca, Associate Professor of Russian Language and Literature at Hamilton College in NY.
“Some years ago my interest in Ukrainian and Russian ritual towels was kindled by a family legend recounted to me in my grandmother’s village of Bazaliya in Ukraine. I am an American because some 100 years ago my grandmother, Olyana Onyshchuk, engaged in a binding ritual with a young man. The betrothal ritual [zaruchennia] was a ceremonial step taken to solidify the promise to marry between the two parties. The hands of the young couple and their parents were bound together with a rushnyk by one of the matchmakers, who then pronounced, ‘I’m not tying a knot, I’m tying your word.’”
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