The Hutsuls are a small-ethnic sub-group of the Ukrainians who live in the Eastern Carpathians. They lived isolated in the mountains and developed craft forms of their own. Thick forests gave them logs for buildings and for wood-carving, sheep gave them wool for clothes and leather for their boots, bags and belts and they made colorful hand-painted pottery of local clays. Some of the peasant craftsmen achieved a high level of artistry.
The wooden buildings are perhaps among the Hutsuls’ greatest achievement. Here we find a craftsman’s deep understanding of the qualities of his material and a keen sense of proportion. The log house with its long verandah under one side of a wide overhanging roof is typical for the Hutsuls. In olden times there was also a log fence enclosing the front yard.
The Hutsuls churches have always been planted like a cross and have a tent-roofed tower. There are many remarkable variations, but this is the typical Hutsul church.
The fame of the Carpathian wood-carvers has long since spread well beyond their mountains. This craft grew out of the peasant’s natural desire to decorate the things they used. Simple, at first, the carvings became gradually more artistic and Hutsul carvers started using different inlays-wood, horn, metal, and mother-of-pearl.
Jeweler was, however, one of their most ancient crafts. Metal mostly brass, was important for decorating their traditional dress, leather-wear, weapons, tobacco pipes and other things.
Their decorative towels, tablecloths, rugs and coverlets, with the characteristic pattern and embroidery, are done in warm colors.
Then there are the famous fluffy lizhnyk rugs and kylym carpets which are still made in large numbers. Several crafts weaving, embroidery, metal and leather work come together in wonderful harmony to make Hutsul costume.