Hutsul architecture is not well known. It is a unique and interesting sample, which is a part of the raw mountain Carpathian landscape and climate.
Modern Hutsul architecture is plenty of forms and styles implied by the uniqueness of local culture and art. Although there are also some global influences found.
The Hutsul village can be classified as a lonely one. Single cottages are placed far away each other. From the Ukrainian side this style is identified as spread and scattered rural development.
The village center is usually located in the valley. It is consisted of church and parish, school, peasant house and inn as well as a separate shop. In the bottom of the valley near a local river and road is located up to 70 % of the family dwelling. The remaining part of the settlements is a number of single and lonely cottages. They are also grouped in hamlets called kuty, belonged to the local village but located far away, sometimes on the hills. Such location is unique in Eastern Carpathians due to the fact that the other villages inhabited by Boiko and Lemko nations are located only in the valleys.
Before World War II, in some villages on the bank of Chorny Cheremosh river there were 6 % of the houses located 1000 m over sea level in village Zhabie (modern Verkhovyna), 17.4 % houses in the in village Kryvorivnya and even up to 23 % in village Dzembronia. It was typical for Hutsul on both sides of the Carpathian Mountains.
The hamlets are named due to the streams or hills, sometimes the locations or the name of the founder. You can find also some places, where people lived seasonally called zymarky and vesnyarky. In the mountains, over the forest border and on glades there are shepherds shelters called stoyishcha.
A live in a single family dwelling in Eastern Carpathians seems to be a natural way of living due to the raw, mountain conditions.
Due to a safety reasons for some of the Carpathian fugitives and bandits live on their own far away from the civilization was one of the main reasons. Traditional Hutsul expression says that: a good house is such one from which you cannot see the other houses.
Many think that it is also due to the living and farming conditions. Only less than 10 % of the soil was cultivated. There mostly were meadows and pastures. Farther to the East, near the Dnister river the number of the soil cultivated increased and the villages, especially between Nadwirna and Kuty, are more compact. The houses there were mostly arranged in chains or rows. Of course there were also traditional lonely villages, but their number was decreasing. Still exist Vyznhiy (Upper) and Seredniy (Midle) Bereziv, Bili (White) Oslavy and Chorni (Black) , Sheshory or Lucha.
The Hutsul farms were self-sufficient. Hence more important was local communication to the pastures and meadows than somewhere else. It imposed the need to decrease the distance between the farms and fields.
Some of the hamlets have been developed from the temporary settlements – zymarek, placed on the meadows, not far away from the farms and used as the winter pastures. At the same time the number of the people increased and most of them inherited and shared the land. Before World War II, the number of zymakry decreased and was replaced by the permanent houses.
Bystrzets, Dzembronia, Yavirnyk, Zelene-Rika are on the bank of the upper Chorny Cheremosh river. They were founded as seasonal shelters by the crofters from Kryvorivnya and Girsky Yaseniv, where they owned meadows and pastures, which were aparted by village Zhabie (modern Verkhovyna). Gradually the owners settled in new hamlets selling the old properties but still close to the old villages. Even the churches in Bystrzets and Zelene were the part of Kryvorivnya parish (it had been up to 1914). Later on the hamlets belonged to Zhabie and in 1927 Dzembronia became an independent village. Bystrzets, Yavirnyk and Zelene have been included to that village.
The seasonal shelters can be divided into those used during the spring – vesnyarky, the summer – litni khaty, and during the winter – zymarky. Latowyska were used during the summer not only for the shepherd purposes but also for the cultivation purposes related to the height. Wesnarky were used to May, and then during the haymaking and during the autumn they were changed for zymarky. According to Latowyska were changed into the permanent settlements. They can be cal-led posidky as for permanent houses, instead of zymarky.
Temporary shelters (for some reasons several of them could have belonged to one man) would have been transitioned to permanent settlements, when inherited. Afterwards, next generations shared a land and built the whole hamlet.
Many of the contemporary owners have nowadays the similar names although they deny having the same ancestors. Sometimes new rooms called khaty built extended the houses or established several enclosures. It is commonly believed that traditional Hutsul house consisted of two rooms, but before World War II, the one-room houses were in majority. There were only a few houses with more than two rooms.
The shepherds seasonal shelters located on glades called stoyishcha or staya normally were not changed into the permanent settlements. The shelters were used by people and animals during the night. Dairying was done on the spot. The dairy goods were later on transported to the valleys. Stoyishcha consisted of several farm buildings of different size and some fenced fields for animals. The number of buildings varied from one to several dozens due to the type of breeding. The simplest were sheep folding stoyishcha.
The contemporary colonization has changed the traditional Hutsul arrangement of the valleys. The buildings are located densely and chaotic. Not so many modern houses are inspired by Hutsul traditions.
But the hills still have got similar style as in the past with their lonely nest forms. This can be found in the river Pytula valley and in the river Bilyi Cheremosh valley as well as Cheremosh river, Pokutski Mountains or Krywopillya. Some modern houses are inspired there by Hutsul traditions. But many houses in the mountains are abandoned. Young generation migrates to the valleys due to the heavy living conditions.
Traditional farms – osikdy – were permanently or seasonally used. They consisted of one or more buildings including the dwelling house, animal’s shelters, a cellar and some stores called ambary as well as a garden and a orchard, an apiary, pasture grounds and a meadow. The stacks of hay and a part of forest were also parts of the osidky. The farm was usually fenced. The location of the buildings was due to the functions of settlement. The buildings could have been located chaotically and irregularly. Only the front wall of the dwelling house was directed straight to the sun.
The old Hutsul house was planned having all beneath one roof. Everything was located in one building including storages and an animal’s shelter. The other buildings were only supplementary in the farm. A dwelling house was formally and functionally the most important. A second in row building of the farm was a cowshed. As a matter of fact there were no barns on these farms. It was due to the fact that there were no grains planted. But there were plenty sheds and stacks. The smallest were some stores.
Nowadays, the farms have the same form as in the past even though the oldest buildings were replaced. And the houses do not have all the other storages and shelters under one roof.
The lonely cottages on the hills are the most traditional osidky. The only way to find them is to walk over the ridges through the mountains.
Orientation of the houses
The farms and particularly houses are positioned to the south as in other parts of Carpathian mountains. Simultaneously, the front of the house was wind-protected and the only part of the house having the windows. It was easy when the house was situated on the south slope of the hill. On the other sides of the hills houses were oriented toward the east. This was done as a result of cold and wet western winds. On the slopes houses were positioned back to the slope. Most houses exhibited either to the north or to the north-east or to the north-west were local shopping or community centers. There were shops, bars, inns, common houses or schools.
Hutsul as a perceptive nation had oriented the front of the house far from the south if they would have a breathtaking view. But they mostly located front of the house directed to the south-east and south. The newly built houses are traditionally oriented toward the sun and certainly do not have all the windows set on one elevation.
Hutsul obtain water from different potential sources. The farms situated on the river or the stream banks have immediate access to the water. A good number of farms use source water. Hardly ever, mainly in the valleys you can find wells.
The wells are situated often outside the farms and they are wide open. Analogously access to the source water situated near the roads and paths is not restricted. Long ago, the water was brought via either drilled or jointed wooden pipes. On the pastures the water was supplied by the same type of surface wooden aqueducts. They ended after several dozen meters with wooden watering place for animals. Near the springs there had been built special wooden shelters for the travelers, where they could have found especially prepared watering cans Near the roads, Hutsuls built roofed benches with fresh water cans. Even now you can always find near the spring a jug for water.
Contemporary wells are framed with bricks or concrete rings but in the past they were timber or stone framed. Wells are mostly classical with turning handle or wheel. They have a roof built on at least two but usually four pillars. Their shape is a house shape. They have either pitched or pavilion ornamented steel roofs. Sweep wells are also popular. The type of wells depends on the depth of the water table. But in a village and its neighborhood most of the wells are alike.
Domestic road system
Road and path network was used mainly for a local farming and shepherd economy. The path systems were growing around the villages with approach to the transit tracks. The system has been functioning for last couple of hundred years. The roads are situated along the river-beds and valleys. The rural communities can be found on the stream banks and they have their small roads. It has been possible to travel along the road only seasonally during the good weather normally either by foot or by horse. Nevertheless, you cannot reach the hills using a vehicle since there are no routes. Therefore, still there are difficulties with carrying of e.g. building materials.
Local system of routes is appended with broadways – vulytsi, which connect rural communities and were used for herd relocations. Along the properties were established stone routes on both sides with walls. Those routes were shut by the gates called roztohy and every time open and close. In such a way it was possible to leave the herd alone. Nowadays there are used by heavy vehicles and locally named traktorna, which is a name for a tractor track.
The most significant type of road is called plai (plaj), traditional path for walk and horse-ride. Plai is a typical track for a transit along the glades and forests. They are still in folk’s memory since the Walachian times Plai is a Slavic word, however used in Romania. Old plai is located along the Chornogora mountain (upper plai) and they are some other plai along the slopes (lower plai) starting from villages on both sides of the Carpathians. Some researchers believe that those routes were the ways of expansion of civilization there.
On the meadows and pastures the routes are not located along the properties. Plai go across the lands and pastures and the fences. Hence, they have the gates – roztohy or peretazy, which are the simple bridges for pedestrians. The simplest paths are called plaichka. Thus, they are the fastest ways to get to the hills from the valley and walk the finest way to the next village or hamlet.
The house and its form and function
Permanent house is called osidkova khata. Hutsul settlement has been a long time process. As a matter of fact the shepherd culture was mixed with the agriculture and therefore the form of Hutsul house is as it is. The oldest examples of the houses came from 18th and 19th century.
There were several magical actions in order to build the Hutsul house. They should have guaranteed the happiness the wealth and a good health of dwellers.
The house was built as a rectangular one. The single room houses called buchne were the simplest. The entrance was located to the east. More advanced was a two room house called burdey. This house had a front entrance from the south to the antechamber called khoromy, siny and a room called khata on the east.
The following steps in the development were adding subsequent rooms put to the north and small additions called prytuly around. Prytuly were created either for the animals and then they were called khliv or as a storage space. From the west another chamber, against the wind and the cold, was created. It was called klit. The entrance to this chamber was from the front sometimes from the room. The antechamber was constructed from the front to the end of the house. The doors inside leaded to the storages. The access to prytuly was also from outside. In more advanced house there were also the back doors little bit lower than the entrance. Later on this solution was typical.
Another type of the house had the hall – khoromy separating the room – khata and the chamber – klit. Sometimes the chamber was standing alone and then it was called ambar.
Next step in the enlargement was to build second room. If the rooms had different sizes they called the house dvi khaty cherez siny. If the rooms had the same size the house was called khata na dvi polonyny. Rooms were called depending on the position to the hall. They also called the rooms due to the position of the house to the stream or the hill as gorishnya and dolishnya khata. The stove was usually in one room.
In most improved houses there were two rooms and two chambers. They were arranged as a chamber – a room – a hall – a room – a chamber. It could have been also the third room as a supplement or built in separate cottage.
The roof sometimes was extended and a vestibule, called piddashya or cherdak, was created. On one hand researchers suppose that it was not a common solution, on the other hand they suggest that it was a step backward. The extension of the entrance roof was made as eaves called strikha and making a bench called pryspa (pryzba) and later on a porch. The evolution gave rise from the ordinary bench to the longish porch called pidganie, pidsinie, hanchyk, hanok (ganok).
Since the mid 19th century the porch was constructed along the front of the houses. Porch could have been structurally fixed to the house. It could have had its own floor; consisted of either large flat stones as for the poorer owners or wide or long wooden bars placed on the wooden girders as for the richer landlords. A roof was extended to such porch.
Some of the porches were wider and had some wooden pillars on which the roof was supported. They also had see-through or covered balustrades. The gate was put in the direction of the entrance doors or the wall. Occasionally, a staircase was attached. The existence of the porch was not dependent on the size of the house but they were built in more improved houses.
The porch had several functions such as a quick access to all the rooms and storages in the house even if raining or it was a children playground. During the summer it was a meeting and leisure space. You could also store some equipment there.
A very interesting role was played by the porch in the admission of the light to the house. During the summer it was prevented sun to access and overheating the interior, while during the winter the access was unlimited.
Traditional Hutsul house had very small windows placed in the front. At the beginning they were with trusses and shutters. Sometimes, the entire porch was wrapped with the wooden walls. The only small openings were let in the direction of windows. It helped protect against the wind and snow during the winter. The shutters could have been repositioned and fully opened or completely dosed.
Next components were a wing flanks the front elevation and the porch. They were arranged perpendicularly to the porch on one or both sides of the house. They contained some depots and chambers and stables called koleshnia, and wood-yard called drovorub. They were connected by the roof and small roofed ways with the farmhouse. All those structural components prevented the house against the wind and blizzards. They covered all the functions of the farm hence another buildings were not needed. At the end there is one step to have complete enclosure with internal court called grazhda.
Typical Hutsul houses were built on both sides of Carpathians and also on Hutsul Bukovyna.
The spatial and the dimensional development of the Hutsul house did not help to disappear the simplest types of the house, which existed independently. The economical reasons lied behind the size and development of the house but all of them had similar schemes. Most of the farmhouses had diverse arrangements but the same core room – hall or room – hall – chamber. The subsequent parts were added not only due to the location but also to the local social conventions.
Fundamental house consisted of a room, a hall, and a chamber. The remaining rooms were independent. It means that they could have been built separately and modular to the basic core.
An addition of the next parts gave the farmhouse a compact and homogenous architectural form by extending the roof. And the roof over the storage spaces khliv and prytuly was set up to the ground. Then you could not see the walls at all.
This traditional arrangement had not changed to the beginning of 20th century. Before the World War II first modifications took place. Nowadays, still a lot of traditional farmhouses can be found in south part of Hutsul land near both Cheremosh rivers. On the south there are a lot of lamb’s herds and the farms have still the same close form. In high mountains some new ideas are spreading quite slowly.
It was written that Hutsul house had a harmony of form and goal. Hutsul made a functional architecture fighting against the climate and height.
Materials and structure
The houses were built with conifers such as spruce, fir and stone pine. It was a local timber from the forests belonging to the state or landlords sometimes to the local community or other private owners.
The timber was earlier storied and the carpenters first prepared single elements of the house such as studs, ledgers, joists, rafters and braces and beams and trusses. Afterwards, the house was easily put together.
Foundation beams were made from the cut beams. They i were jointed and bolted. There were left some wings in the comers. The comers were place on the boulders called pidlizhky. The space between the ground and the foundation beam was filled with stones. There were not real brick foundations. Sometimes, when the house was located on the hill it was used a stone foundation with some day or a wooden sill.
The walls were crowned with some spaces made from different sizes of timber bars. The oldest were made from the rounded logs called kruglyak or dereva. Inside the rooms walls were plastered with clay and painted white. The hall was natural timber one. White painted and clayed walls were characteristic for poorer Hutsul, especially from Pokuttya region. They also put the clay (on special bars) and paint the outside walls there. If the walls I were not clayed they filled the gaps between the logs with moss. Through cutting the log along you could have a half of the log. The trunk was cut along for three parts and the middle one was used to build the roof. And the houses made of these wooden parts were called rizana khata.
The logs were flat outside the wall and inside planed. Several times a year they were washed with a hot water and polished with cabbage juice for having a yellow color. Such house was called myta khata.
Hardly ever they used timber with rectangular cross-section. It was called tesane derevo and the house made from it tesana khata. In 20th century it became more and more popular.
The comers were made with one over another bar having the connections blocked to move in different directions. In second half of 19th century they started to use fish-tale fastening. The bars were then bolted with bolts in order to prevent horizontal displacements.
The rounded logs were used till the beginning of 20th century.
The frame was jointed over the windows and doors with horizontal bar from one to another comer called pravylo.
A very simple way to prevent losing the heat from the house was put in the autumn around the house some pieces of firewood. Another way was to put some plunks around the house.
The oldest roofs were quite flat pitched roofs with about 30 deg of inclination. There were covered with moss or bark. This was pressed by trusses or stones to the roof. They were called ploska chata. Such house was not very large.
Typical Hutsul house roof was called half of the top one. This type of the roof was applied already in early 19th century and in church architecture even a century earlier. There were also hip roofs with vent- holes. Later on there were pitched roofs fixed with about 30 to 60 deg of inclination. Some of the roofs were benched on the front.
The roof consisted of rafters with and beams called bantyna placed on the purlins called obrubyna. The purlin was shifted to the front and laid on the wooden beams of the walls or on special elements external. There were different shapes of them with quite simple with flat cut, subsequently cut with the curve or steps, and then finally with the ornaments sculptured. With the beams moved outside, the roof was larger and the house had larger eaves. In the largest version with the clamped beam of roof, the eave had several pillars in order to have it steady. Roof spans were called kizly, which were put on the purlins – obrubeny. The edges of spans were sometimes profiled. The triangle, vertical tops of the roofs were filled with the planks – sometimes also ornamented.
In the ridge, the spans were not touching but crossing. At the span crossing, there was a purlin. There were the rafters mounted in the holes in two sides of it.
The shape of the top of the roof protected against the rain and wind. The solution of this type of forests was a unique one. The whole shape of the roof was based on the main skeleton, and the ridge was at all times in the middle of the distance between the purlins, independent of their parts outside the walls. Small roofs over the storage spaces were extensions of the back and the side spans and there also had their own rafter structures. The angle of the span over the storage space was smaller than the angle of the main span and hence the back and the sides of the house looked like fastened to the soil.
The roofs were covered with the laths dranytsa or the wooden bars on double trusses, placed on the rafters. From time to time, the higher part of the lath was mounted to the trusses on their whole length, what helped to tighten the roof. The roof was covered from the top to the bottom, not like with shingles with bottom to the top. It was possible due to the double trusses. The laths were mounted to the trusses by the strong yew pegs or the iron roof nails. In the poorest and the oldest houses with low roofs they were mounted by the perches and stones.
The cover of the roof by the laths was very expensive procedure. From 10 m3 of the timber there was only about 1 m3 of the covering material with the length of 1.5 m. It was a matter of proud to cover the roof with the smallest number of the longest laths. Today, the laths have up to 70 cm of length. In the northern part of Hutsul land and on the area of the Hutsul-Pokuttya border the houses were covered with the shingles. On the remaining part of the Hutsul land the idea of the covering the roofs with the shingles was applied to the houses, mostly made in the time after the World War, although the shingles had been known in the second part of 19th century. The application of the shingles is simple to explain. The price of the roof covering with shingles was lower to the price of the covering with the laths. Also a matter of the access to the high quality timber used for the laths was the reason.
Sometimes the shingle bars were cut to the peak, and then cover of the roof looked like a fish scale. This type of the cover applied not only to the roof but also to the walls was common in Transcarpathians.
Even if there were large eaves mounted on the whole length of the roof or over the doors, there were wooden gutters held on the wooden hooks called kluky. The gutters were made of the long wooden perches cut into two parts along the perch. This type of the gutters still can be found all over the Hutsul land.
All the rooms in the house had the wooden floors. The floors were made from the bars placed over the beams (ligary), called mist or pomist. The wooden floors are traditional in the Hutsul houses. There were put not only in the rooms but also in the vestibules. Sometimes there were put in the chambers and pantries – ambary.
The poorer Hutsul placed inside the house some stones and a day and after that leveled and again put an amount of clay. Several times a year the floor was leveled again.
The ceiling had got an independent construction and it was not structurally attached to the roof. The ceiling construction called stelya was made only over the rooms and chambers. It was not made in the other spaces under the roof. The main beams carried only the ceiling weight while the purlins were place below and stayed independent. Hence, there is a hypothesis of the secondary role of that construction, supplemented to the house structure.
There are several swoloki placements. A single one, two parallel, or two crossing bars, and the most popular, when on the main beam several smaller were placed one over the other, and then the ceiling itself.
Over the main beams there was a ceiling located. It was made of the thick timber planks or perches. The ceiling was planked or plastered with clay mixed with shred. This type of a plaster was a thermal and fire isolation. The height of the ceiling was enough to people’s comfortable communication. The ends of the beam were located outside the roof. They were also profiled.
The bottom of the main beam was decorated with low relief and in the houses of rich people with rounded profiles.
The doors (dveri) were placed in the door-frames. In the older houses there were made as a single wing doors with wide and thick planks. Later on the doors were made as a frame with the plates covered it. These doors were made as folding doors. Soon, the glass was mounted inside the doors.
The old doors were moving on the special pole (bihun) with the primitive hinges on the top and at the bottom. There were several methods of the mounting of hinges. There were the doors with a pole mounted in a hole (kahanets) at the bottom, and the upper was in the wooden clamping ring. The most common was the pole mounted in two wooden damps with the upper one stronger and longer than lower one. The length of the upper damp was similar to the door width and due to that fact; the damping ring was very strong and pulling out resisted. It was made of wrought iron and later the industrial steel.
The entrance doors to the hall, even in early 20th century were considerably small, but the admission with the head bowed had its magical sense. They were opened inside, while the larger doors to the chambers had opened outside.
The main entrance doors as well as the doors to the animals’ shelters were very often equipped with transparent wicket door, which allowed to leaving the doors opened in the summer. The doors were painted, sometimes with the pastel colors. The wooden beam over the doors was decorated with low relief, similarly to the main beam, with some geometrical figures or with plant motives.
The main entrance doors had a special, strongly look and effective wooden lock, which was opened by a wooden key. This is the example of the wood primacy in the technical culture of Hutsul land.
The windows (vikna) were exceptionally small with the smallest sizes 23’23 cm. The windows were positioned in such a way, that the rooms were not dark. At the beginning, the window hole was of the size of singular wooden log, simply cut. Subsequently, it became wider and higher, then the window frame must have been used. The windows were without the glass, with only shutters open and dosed. Iron cast bars were applied very often. Then, in the Hutsul-Lemko transition area special shutters moving in the wooden rails had been used. The early windows with glass were steady fixed from the outside to the wall. The system of twin windows with the vertical bar in the center was old fashioned. In the second half of 19th century single windows with a frame were up-to-date. Then they were modified into double frame windows. The windows with glasses were at the beginning with four small glasses. The glass was mounted by the host, while the carpenters had prepared the frames.
The Hutsul interior
The house interior, in especially the livelihood part, had the same characteristic appearance independent of the host and his income. The house had about 14-20 m2, although there were larger up to 36 m2. The walls were mostly flat and smooth with natural color and fracture of wood.
The location of the equipment in the room was constant. Besides, they were usually prepared by the owner. In the comer near the entrance between the doors and the northern wall the stove was located. It was also built by the host. The oldest houses were without the chimney then the fog was moved out by the wall to the vestibule along the oblique hole called kahlya. Finally, the chimney was built in such a way, that there was a sleeping place for the older family members and children. Sometimes it had a size of a quarter of the room.
The space between the stove and the doors was filled with the special wooden equipment in shape of a rake, needed to get rid of the ashes too.
Along the northern wall, between the stove and a wall the bed or a divan called postil was set. The bed was structurally jointed to the stove-bench. Sometimes, between the stove and the bed, perpendicular to the back wall, a small bench was placed; while to the ceiling the cradle was fixed (at the bottom of the bed). Along the wall and under the windows the wide benches were mounted to the wall (usually permanently). The benches were used as beds by youngsters.
Under the window, diagonally to the stove, the table was placed. The table might have been also a chest with a flat ornamented top. The space between the window wall and the doors was filled with the cupboard called polytsi. The cupboard was permanently fixed to the wall. Above the cupboard and over the doors there were ornamented shelves – namysnyka or mysnyka. Near the window a loom was placed, when there was enough space. The loom was expanded during the work and then packed, although sometimes it was placed in the chamber or in the vestibule.
There is a place for the religious pictures or paintings in the opposite to the entrance doors on the wall. This wall is called obraznyk and could have also some pictures painted on the glass. Since the photographs were introduced, they were hanged on that wall, too. Sometimes, the wall is fully occupied with the pictures.
Since, the second half of 19th century, it was very fashionable to hang on the walls some elements of weapon such as the guns, pistols, powder-horns, knifes and daggers as well as the leather bags and so on. However, this custom was vanished and until now, the walls are decorated with blankets, which are handmade and colorful. They are decorative elements, which help to increase a thermal isolation of the walls.
Over the stove and above the bed and parallel to the longer walls of the cottage, there were fixed to the beams decorated poles. On the poles, the pieces of clothes and woolen blankets (lizhnyk) were hanged. In the beam the wooden pegs were attached to the side. On them usually, the mugs were hanged. The upper plane was used as a shelf, where the documents and small items were stored. Sometimes, behind the bed near the wall an ornamented chest for the celebration clothes was located although the clothes were stored in the chamber.
Initially, the interior was illuminated by the bonfire. In the times, when the stoves were introduced, the interior was lighted up by the torch, made of the dry and hard timber (e.g. beech-wood), placed in the corner of the stove either on the large flat stone called svitych or hanged under the beam in the middle of the room in wooden fork fixed to the beam. Afterwards, the fat and the oil lamps were used.
The room one right hand side of the vestibule was called pravachka land it was a mirrored version of the left hand side room called livachka. The interior organization was identical in Hutsul land, and ideal from the functional point of view.
The bed was placed in the cozy and warmest position in the room. I People slept with the legs near the stove. The cradle was situated at the bottom of bed, i.e. very close to the stove. During the night it was possible to move it with the foot. The table and the benches were located in the brightest place, and far away from the stove. It was the cleanest place in the room. The plates were located very close to the stove and windows. It was easy to check, whether they are cleaned. The poles were put near the walls and close to the ceiling. In this case the clothes were not disturbed. The number of actions made in the house was small but all of them practically had not been changed for many decades and even centuries. Nowadays, traditionally equipped rooms can be found in new houses, including the shape of the stove, but with completely changed construction.
The chamber and the vestibule were typically utilitarian. They were used as a storage space for the food and the farming tools. The walls were simple and raw with only some pieces of beams.
All the equipment including the large wooden dishes for the powder products, diary or the pickled cabbage were placed near the walls without any rule, depending on the needs. On the wooden stakes the piece of clothes had been hanged. In the middle there was an empty space.
Grazhda – the most advanced farmhouse
The close form of the farmhouse is called Grazhda. It was a typical and characteristic element of the Hutsul landscape and this part of the Eastern Carpathians. Already, after the World War, there was a considerable number of these farmhouses. Nowadays, they disappeared. There are a few, far away from the villages, generally in the highest mountains.
The close form of farmhouse, the house with an internal porch, is not an exceptional structure in many European cultures and in all over the world. This type of a structure is better protected against the typical weather and climate conditions It also protects against the unexpected visitors such as the wild animals and the burglars It is the archetype of the internal and external world, as well.
Grazhda was associated with the form of settlement as a lonely farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. Its typically defended character was stressed by the open space in the neighborhood.
The dose form of farmhouse is an archaic type, but it is hard to believe that it was an initial shape of the house in the Hutsul land. The idea was developed evolutionary and the beginning was set at the late 17* I or early 18th century But the fairy tales noted in the thirties and looked upon the times of the outlaws, i.e. from the first part to the end of 18th century concerned Grazhda form as a typical and common. The earliest dose forms of farmhouse were noticed in the third part of 18th century. As a matter of fact, grahzda was the topmost of the form of Hutsul architecture, and the richest Hutsul could have got it.
The term Grazhda has been introduced to the literature after the World War as a name of the specific dose form farmhouse with the name of the fence called ograzhda. The name has a Slavic origin. It is connected with the fencing and the barrier, and sounds similar in several languages. Until now, Hutsul do not use that word, but call the dose form farmhouse khata or khata with grazhda, khata with ograzhda.
Grazhda must be farmhouse framed with the roofed fence with the porch inside and sometimes outside. The territorial range of the Grazhda implementation is only historic today and it is hard to establish. There is some information, which can help us to estimate the area, but there were the other places, where that type of the housing was found.
Today, we can judge, that the dose form farmhouses were located in the whole Hutsul Galicia. Moreover, in Hutsul Transcarpathians, there were found in the villages near Yablunytsa pass, and in Bukovina, there were only incidentally built.
Now, we can find only several farmhouses of this type in situ, and the number of Grazhdas is systematically decreasing It is known, that at least three of them are located in Kryvorivnya and their hamlets Osik and Zapohar, one Grazhda can be found in Krasnoila in Zholobie hamlet, three of them were ten years ago in village of Zamagura, one in Perekhrestne, one in Hryniava in hamlet Shtubey, one in Shepit in hamlet Bubok, one in the Zhabiy potik valley near the road from Verkhovyna to Zamagura, one in Kosmach, one in Bobeyka the hamlet of village Izwor Suchavy (Romania). There are also some objects moved to the open-air ethnographic museum in Lviv, Uzhgorod and Kiev.
And for a tourist walking along the Hutsul land the hunting for the close form farmhouses called grazhda is a challenge.
The elements of Grazhda
The modest Grazhda is a typical Hutsul house with the solid framed roofed fence and the porch in the front. It could have been a simple house, consisted of the room and a vestibule surrounded with the three sides of the animals and storage sheds, and from the fourth side structurally attached to the house with an enclosure. It also could have been more complicated farmhouse.
The roofed fence built an additional farm space, protected against the falls. In such a way, there was a larger part of the porch roofed. It must have been done by constructing an independent roof, which was characteristic for the typical animal shelters roofs.
If the host was rich, the farmhouse was larger with more other buildings and storage spaces were included. There were the animal shelters such as the sheep shelters (koshary), the stables (koleshni), the pigstry (khliv), the cowsheds and so on. There were also additional sheds, wood-yard, chambers (ambary). Sometimes, there were small, independent buildings with their own roofs connected to the house by the fence. There were some chambers built perpendicularly to the house from one or both sides with the roofs having the same blocks. The fence was parallel to the gallery and the gate was along the axis of the house entrance. Several times the additional storage spaces and chambers were blocked and created opposite to the house another long and parallel building. The fences were linked up both buildings, and the gates were located on the sides.
The simplest division of the Grazhdas is to those without the additional farm buildings and those with the additional farm buildings creating the part or the whole fence.
The area of a single close form of the farmhouse was from 100-120 m2 in the case of smallest to up to the 400-600 m2 in the case of the richest Hutsul owners. In the largest farmhouses the area could have been even up to the 1000 m2.
The location of the main gate to the farmhouse depended on the local area conditions and needs of the owners. Usually, there was a main entrance and several smaller gateways around the Grazhda. The porch called podvirya, was paved with the large stone plates, what was convenient during the rainfalls or melts. In the past, the shape of the farmhouse was rectangular or quadrilateral. But it was not a rule. There were some farmhouses built on the irregular base.
The farm consisted of several buildings and structures (sheds, barns), which were located in dif-ferent points and sometimes only fenced with a simple barrier with the poles called woryn. Nearly always the stacks of hay were separated.
There were farmhouses with two and even three porches. Then, the front porch was divided by building another fence or a structure in the middle, perpendicular to the house and joined with the house by the roof. The other solution was to build another fence at the back of the house. At that moment, the front porch (podvirya) was the representative one, and the back porch (zadvirya) was surrounded by the farm buildings and was used for the farming purposes. If there were three porches, the additional one was also used for the farming e.g. as a beehive area.
The fence called ograzhda
The fence was called ograzhda and it has a wreath shape. The fence height was similar to the height of the man. The traditional myths told us about the small holes in the fence used as crenels. The fence was crowned with a small one- or two-sided roof made of laths or shingles.
The fences with one-sided roof were built around the farmhouses containing the house without the other buildings or with the farm buildings constructed in such a way that there were no walls from the porch side. In such farmhouses the porch was quite thin and the roof crowned the fence was the extension of the front side of the house roof.
From the large distance it looked like a long rectangular shape cut. But in reality, it was an open part of the porch.
The two-sided roof protected the fence itself against the rain or the snowfalls. The gate in this type of a fence was quite strong and high, with two wings also crowned with the two-sided roof or a roof similar to the house roof. This type of the fence connected the buildings inside the farmhouse.
Sometimes there were so many buildings inside Grazhda, and there were so dose to each other, that there was no need to build additional fences. Hence, the gates were established between the walls of the objects.
All the elements of the Hutsul farmhouse were similar to each other, and with the material and constructional solutions and the inner form were stylistically consistent. There were harmonic with their form, the lack of the outside holes, as well as the shape and the angle of the roofs their connections and penetration, and the fracture. The size and the shape of the roofs were underlined by their length up to the ground along the three sides of the house.
From the outside the Hutsul farmhouse looked like a consistent massive form of the wooden fortress which can protect not only against the weather but also the unexpected visitors such as the wild animals and other intruders.
The contemporary observer can notice that Hutsul Grazhda seems to be a very logical and functional solution, characterized by noble proportions of the singular elements of its structure. That was the tip of top form of the Hutsul house. In that time and place, its role was perfectly fulfilled. The subsequent changes of architectural form were due to the technological and cultural changes.
The vanishing of Grazhda
The process of vanishing of the close form of the farmhouse in Hutsul land can be connected to the transformation done after the year of 1939, although it had been started after the World War. There were several reasons but mostly economical, technological and social are the most significant. It was a two way process. The old farmhouses were disappeared by the natural process of technological destruction and getting older. In many times, the fences were removed and the remaining houses still exist. And there have not been built new Grazhdas.
Since early 20th century the pasturage had become less important and there were new ways of the income earning. It seems, that the communists performing the collectivization of agriculture and pasturages, sharply decreased the number of animals in the family farms. The massive fences with the roofs, the porches protecting animals against the wind and snow became useless. Also the Soviet authority was not very happy with such form of seclusion.
The population density and the number of buildings have been increased gradually. The functional reason of Grazhda as a fortress, located far away from the neighbors died out. The social changes including the multi-generation needs and a family nest has been less important, while Grazhdas were inhabited by several generations managing the family farm. Later on, young couples preferred to live on their own. The architecture has been changed, too. Newly built houses became shorter and compacted. The ceiling was higher. The windows have been larger and their number increased. They could be found on the other sides than the front side. The number of the storage spaces in the houses was lessening.
The new heating systems have become more sufficient. Hence, the supported spaces have been not required, as well as the roof extensions and the high fencing system against the wind.
The evolution of the ornaments in the local structural convention
A traditional Hutsul architecture can be depicted as a logical system of pure and simple space forms. At the beginning, the outside ornaments were simple. The oldest buildings impressed the viewer by their proportions and the material fracture. Perhaps they had not got the ornaments, initially. For the years the decoration was richer. The early decoration was due to the carpentry and single construction components. There were the edges of the beams profiled. They carried out the eaves over the front wall of the house. The rafter’s edges and the pillars under the eave were decorated, too. Also the poles of the gates and veranda’s balustrades were ornamented. Inside the house was richly decorated by reliefs on the simply supported main beams. There were also many decorations on the roof tops, but it rather was an individual wooden bars pattern.
At the late 19th century, the windows were surrounded by the ornamentally cut wooden slats and some verandas fitted with glass were filled with slats, too. Meanwhile, the shingles replaced the laths and the top of the roof was sometimes decorated with a comb. This architectural Hutsul world was conserved up to the World War II. After the World War II, there have been several changes not only in the shape and size of the houses but also in the evolution and development of the buildings ornamentation.
All the transformations have been achieved partially by the natural and partially by the evolution of the Soviet Union education system in the arts, the architecture and the craft.
Similar process has been still found in those fields. And a good example of it is the State Institute of the Applied and Decoration Art in Kosiv.
The role of metal sheets
The role of metal sheets has been modified for last years. It was upgraded from the plating material to the fundamental decorative stuff. The shining sheets have not been put only on the roofs but also utilized in other structural components. The metal sheets are embossed and cut in repetitive patterns. They are the most frequently applied motifs in the artistic decorations. They are used to the covering of the walls of Hutsul houses and churches, as well as the wooden frames of the chapels and wells. The metal sheets are also used in the fences construction. The tinplates and aluminum plates of two thickness sizes are used to the plating. The thinner are soft and easy to form. They are used to the production of repetitive patterns covering the eaves, roofs, gutters and pipes, as well as the corners of the houses.
The thicker sheets are applied to the filling of the surfaces of the walls. They are pressed or hammered from the back in some geometrical patterns, sometimes the shapes of animals or plants and sometimes the religious motifs. According to the local tradition – this type of material has been fashionable and the idea came from the historic Bukovina and Romania. In the past this type of craft was done by the Romanian crafters called Tsygany, i.e. Gypsies. Nowadays the works are done by the local crafters even with many years experience, who make it very well.
The remarks for 21 st century
In the past the fame of Hutsul carpenters spread far away from the Hutsul land. Now, the number of Hutsul crafters of the highest class is smaller than in the past. It is due to the fact, that the number of buildings made traditionally of the timber is smaller. This tendency will probably reduce the role of the carpenters in the house building. It seems a hard to explain because Hutsul are still proud of their identity and conscious of their cultural value. They often wear traditional clothes and take part in the religious celebrations and the folk festivals.
But in the architecture Hutsul abandoned the forms and details applied before the World War II. Nowadays, the metal sheets play the main role in the ornamentation. And the Hutsul crafters have unusual inventiveness in the metal ornamentation. It can be a natural process of the continuation of folk ornamentation and as it is, it may be accepted as needed and valuable tendency to keep cultural independence.
It seems that Hutsul has lived beyond the usual time, spiritual and material measures. The time measured by Hutsul is remarkable. They usually refer it to the concrete authority. They can say “during the Austrian times” or “during the Polish times” or “during the Soviet time” or “during the independent Ukraine”. It shows the particular space and the culture location. It is independent of the external manipulation due to the historical and social transformations, which can be far and away. The society can give permission to such point of view due to the limited access to the high mountains. And still the work of the local artists and crafters can be unique.
In fact, the real civilization and economical improvement of Hutsul society suffers serious loss in the native culture. All the new technological products and material goods are absorbed easily and happy, and the old traditional tools and techniques are abandoned. Afterwards, when the society becomes richer, people notice the lack of their own cultural value and want to go back. The key to the economical growth and keeping the unique culture can be a tourist development. But this can commercialize the local culture.
Then, what next? What about the building construction in Hutsul land? Is it a potential of survival of the local building tradition in 21st century?
What about the external influence on its integrity? Is there any chance to return to the local building tradition and ornamentation during the globalization era and the material need in Ukraine and West Europe?
Is there any chance to make stronger co-operation between Polish and Ukrainian architects and conservation officers in the upgrading of the historic timber architecture to the European and World preservation standards?
There are not so many places in Europe, where the traditional architecture is so dose to the landscape and the nature. The Hutsul architecture entered the 21st century with some antique forms and plenty of the contemporary artistic styles, which help to preserve the cultural identity of the regon. But the new tendencies go through the Hutsul land too. They make a new quality of the structural and artistic tradition and they can be dangerous as well. Due to the new esthetic and economical values the old traditional Hutsul culture and especially architecture may be threaten. In order to preserve that culture we need a real knowledge about the cultural landscape conservation, clear and efficient procedures of this preservation, as well as the efficient controlling and maintenance procedures.
However, the Hutsul culture is still one of the best preserved initial and original folk culture in Europe.