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 29.01.2011 Carpathian souvenirs at the Kosiv craft market

In Kosiv market you can buy everything.

kosiv souvenir market

Kosiv souvenir market has everything. There you can see and buy Easter eggs (pysanka), carved wooden vases, jewelry boxes, eagles, spoons, barrels, ceramic, kumanets (a kind of Ukrainian traditional dishware which is used mainly as a decoration nowadays), sculptures, porcelain tile, embroidered and woven shirts, towels, carpets, lizhnyks, glass beads, articles from wood, metal and even cheese…

Kosiv souvenir market work twice a week: on Thursdays and Saturdays, except the religious holidays.

In fact, the market is not situated in Kosiv but in Smodna village. It’s easy to find it especially in the morning when you see the flow of buyers that come here from surrounding villages and a lot of cars parked half a mile to the bazaar. If you came from another town don’t be afraid to get lost. Kosiv is a small town with practically one main street.

Souvenirs are only one part of the great universal market in Kosiv. Next to the bridge over the Rybnytsa river, almost at the road, people sell various wares. Near the sign “Smodna market” an old men is selling a wide leather belts and horse harness of his production. After a few meters – a mountain of wicker baskets from vines. In other countries people use them for a picnic. In Ukraine – to bless food on Easter day.

But these first signs of domestic art are not a craft market. To reach there you must to go through the many stalls of vegetables, auto parts, used clothes and other goods.

Finally you are there. First your attention is attracted by lizhnyks. Lizhnyk (plural — lizhnyks) is a sort of a blanket or a rug made of sheep wool, and decorated in large dark-colour patterns. After it is woven, it is put into an enclosure built on the river bank with the openings for the water of a rapid mountain river to go in and exit. Lizhnyks are left there for about four hours for the water to continuously pound them so the wool could become matted. Then lizhnyks are pulled out to dry, and after they have dried, the pile is backcombed and teased out, something that is not done with such rugs anywhere else in the world.

This is a popular product. It’s easy to notice it because of the long rows of sellers at 10 at the morning. The thing is the market starts to work at 4 and its first clients are speculators. They buy large consignments of goods and then sell it in other places. In the land where practically are no active industries many people earn their living like this.

As a rule, other souvenir markets of the Carpathian region sell products from Kosiv market. That’s why they are more expensive.

When the time draws to noon and the wave of wholesale buyers will fall, you might try to buy something cheaper than wholesale price. Sellers are friendly people. They like to bargain and in case of convincing arguments of buyer they can greatly reduce the price.

Along with lizhnyks at the temporary stalls sell various small souvenirs. This part of the Kosiv market can be conventionally called the territory of bad quality things. Indeed, souvenirs here are inexpensive and mostly are sold by hundreds and thousands.

In this part of Kosiv craft market we can meet wooden eagles. But there are more surprises. For example, some vendors offer wooden baseball bets of different sizes. When ask the sellers, who buy this sport gear uncharacteristically for Ukraine, he shrugs shoulders and answer: “Some people take it for baseball but some, perhaps, for a fight”.

In the other part of the market there are the sellers of embroidered towels, embroidered shirts, woven shirts, towels, carpets and old hutsul clothes: zapaska (a sort of a skirt), sardak (a sort of a jacket), kapchuri (woolen socks), keptar (a vest made of sheep skin) and kapelyuhi (hats).

The vendors say the greatest demand have carved jewelry boxes and dishes. These are the original master pieces. The carvers use the wood fruit species: walnut, pear and wild cherry. Many of the sellers are at the same time masters.

There is a variety of the ceramics. These are: jugs, makitras (a clay bowl with a rough surface), decorative plates, tiles, whistles, bells, Easter eggs, kumantsi… You can hardly count all these names.

Yellow clay is using in production of ceramic. It can be found in some places near Kosiv. It passes a special treatment in the mechanical workshop.

Different buyers come to the market. There are people who just love to dive in the sea of folk art, to bargain with real hutsuls and to listen to their unique dialect. Even those who buy nothing return with unforgettable memories.