Many of the people who travel to Kiev every year go to the Ukrainian capital because of the rich culture. In Ukraine the folk arts are a cherished tradition. Moreover, Ukrainian artifacts such as pottery, carvings, and embroidered and woven fabrics are valued all over the world. The pysanky, intricately decorated Easter eggs, have practically become a symbol of Ukraine. They might even be part of the décor in Kiev hotels and Kiev apartments.
Embroidery is probably the most popular folk art in Ukraine. It is a skill that passed down in families from one generation to the next. Artisans like to embroider blouses, shirts, skirts, dresses, towels, aprons and curtains. The designs are intricate and colorful, and have become a distinctive part of traditional Ukrainian clothing. When you leave your accommodations in Kiev and travel around the country, you will see that each region has its own designs and colors. Ukrainian communities are as proud of their unique embroidered designs as Scottish communities are of their tartans.
The floors and perhaps even the walls of your Kiev hotel just might be covered with another creation for which Ukrainian artisans are famous; hand woven rugs. Weaving is almost as popular among the Ukrainians as embroidering is. Rugs, known as kylym, are a favorite item because they are not only beautiful, but also practical. Because they are made of heavy fabric, they provide extra insulation in Ukrainian homes during the long, cold winters.
Ukraine has large deposits of kaolin, a type of clay that is especially good for making china. Because of this, Ukraine has become a major producer of fine pottery. You may very well be dining on it in the restaurant of your Kiev hotel. Artifacts made by Ukrainian potters are excellent souvenirs. So are the wood carvings made by Ukrainian artisans.
The distinctive pysanky is by far the most famous and easily recognizable Ukrainian folk art. These brightly colored Easter eggs with their painstakingly intricate designs are valuable works of art. First the egg is hollowed out. Then it is painted with wax and dipped in dye. The waxing and dipping process is repeated many times, using different colors of dye until the egg is finished. Beeswax is usually used, and the painting is done with a stylus. All of the designs and patterns symbolize Easter. However, the practice is a very ancient one that pre-dates Christianity. There are many legends and superstitions associated with pysanky, including one story that says evil will befall the world if the Ukrainians ever stop painting their Easter eggs. Traditionally they are made by women during the last week of Lent, and at night when the children are asleep. The eggs were originally intended as gifts for family members, as well as friends and respected individuals outside the family, such as the village priest. Pysanky have long been associated with good luck and fertility. Of course, they are great souvenirs.