One of the legends from the Land of the Hutsuls tells the following story: When God saw that there was no dry land, only water on the earth, He decided to create some dry land. He sent Aridnyk, a devil, to the bottom of the sea to fetch some clay. Aridnyk did as he had been bidden but on the way he thought to himself, “Probably, God does not need so much clay. I’ll leave some for myself.” And he put a handful of clay into his mouth, and the rest of the clay he had picked from the bottom of the sea, he gave to God. God blessed the delivered clay and told it to grow in volume. And soon there was so much of it that the dry land appeared. But the clay went on growing in Aridnyk’s mouth as well! The devil began spitting it out, and everywhere a spat-out piece landed it grew into a mountain. It took Aridnyk quite some time to get rid of the clay swelling in his mouth. By the time he was finished, the Carpathians came into being. That’s how it came about that these mountains have so much clay around and the potters in the Carpathians have to keep the things they make out of the clay in hot ovens for so long in order to burn out any traces of the devil’s spittle.
Interesting facts about Kosiv
Kosiv is a Mecca for the folk art fans. Local craftsmen there skilfully produce Easter eggs, jewelry boxes, eagles, spoons, pottery, embroidery, leather goods and many other things. You can buy all this and also see secrets of their manufacture by yourself.
The Hutsuls who live in the Carpathians are well protected from the world by their mountains, and their traditions, passed from generation to generation, remain largely unchanged. They wear their traditional clothes, they believe in the fairy tales and legends of old, they have their age-old superstitions. They greet strangers, saying “Glory to Jesus Christ!” and expect to hear in reply, “Glory to God for all eternity!”
This region has a spiritual awareness, the memories of people’s traditional crafts connect past with present and future. They were formed during centuries. Today the traditional crafts of Kosiv can evolve and improve through knowledge and skills of many generations of the artists.
Wood carving is one of the most common type of decorative arts in the Kosiv region. Local craftsman produce ornament furniture, tools, wooden utensils, musical instruments, religious and ritual items.
Kosiv craft 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.
Kosiv travel plan
Random excursions variant. Trip to Kosiv, guided tour through the city center. Visiting the Museum of Folk Art and Hutsulshcyna Life, the Kosiv Museum of Liberation Struggle of the Carpathian Region and Kosiv craft market (on Saturdays).
We wish you a pleasant stay in Kosiv.
Meet your guide in Kosiv
Hi! I’ll be your guide in Kosiv and do my best to show you the beauty of Hutsul capital.
You will have a good time in Kosiv!
Kosiv Museum of Liberation Struggle of the Carpathian Region
The museum was founded in March, 11, 1999 by local authorities and the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists.
The exhibition provides the information about historical events in Ukraine, and Hutsul region and Kosiv from 1920: revival of Ukrainian nation, the Second World War, Ukrainain Rebel Army, repression of civilians and the liberation struggle up to 1954.
General fund of the museum is 1440 exhibits and 569 exhibits – in the library. Thematic exposition covers the time period of the 1920-50’s of the XXth century and shows the glorious creation of the Ukrainian statehood: the heroic struggle of the Ukrainian Rebel Army, the activities of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, fighting against occupation regimes: Polish, German, Bolshevik, repressive regime against the Ukrainian Patriots.
Exposition materials were raised by the Ukrainian resistance movement, the URA photo archives, exhibits, documents, which got into the museum from other concerned people.
The main task of the museum is to preserve the memory of the true and not distorted by Soviet ideology history of the liberation struggle of the Ukrainian people and education of patriotism in modern Ukrainian youth. For this purpose, the museum has a small library, to which everybody has an access. Thousands of visitors, including children from all over Ukraine visited Kosiv museums.
The museum keeps the book to victims of repressions with their names. The plans of the museum are final completion and expansion of the existing exhibition, creating exposure for the coverage of glorious pages in history of Sichovi Striltsi, the dissident movement and the history of Kosiv.
People from different territories: Ukraine, Russia, Greece, Romania, Canada, the Baltic States, Japan, China, Poland, Czech Republic … visited the museum.
Kosiv Museum of Folk Art and Hutsulshchyna Life
Kosiv has long been known as the capital of folk art of Hutsulschyna. In this center, the pearl of spiritual culture, major industry folk crafts focused and developed: woodcarving, pottery, artistic weaving and embroidery. Today this unique and rich, historical and artistic and ethnographic legacy that is a part of our culture is represented in the exhibition and funds of Kosiv Museum of Folk Art and Hutsulschyna Life.
Kosiv Museum was open in 1969 as a division of Museum of Folk Arts of Hutsulshchyna and Pokuttyanamed after Kobrynskiy.
Into the basis of the museum a collection of folk art by Sagaidachniy (1886-1961), a famous Ukrainian painter and art critic was put, who with his wife came to Kosiv in 1946 and started to work at the local School of Applied Art. Almost all his time he dedicated to studying and collecting works of folk art.
The museum is located in a building, the monument of architecture of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, which initially belonged to the Jewish community.
The museum is justly considered as a center of cultural heritage of Hutsulschyna. Its collection includes about 5000 items. It represents some of the best collections of wood products, ceramics, leather and metal, Hutsul clothes and embroidery.
The museum presents the folk arts and crafts of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The things that attract attention are the things of household purposes – the scoops, konovkas, paskivnyks, vest and coats, taystras, belts, purses, candlesticks, jugs and bowls, which are characterized by elegant forms, the original decoration and a deep symbolic meaning.
Kosiv has long been known as the capital of folk art of Hutsulschyna. In this center, the pearl of spiritual culture, major industry folk crafts focused and developed: woodcarving, pottery, artistic weaving and embroidery.
The original decision of the building of the entire exposure enables to learn better and deeper the distinctive history of art and culture of this magical artistic region. The museum contributes to scientific knowledge, national consolidation; educates high aesthetic tastes and preferences. Thousands of domestic and foreign tourists get acquainted with great interest with the history and traditions of the land, each time discovering the Ukraine as a state.
Realizing that the spiritual and creative potential of people is inseparably linked with comprehensive knowledge of their history and culture, the workers of the museum consider that it is necessary to propagandize their collection widely.