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Petrykivka: Lush and Vivid Ukrainian Folk Art


Petrykivka decorative painting is a traditional Ukrainian folk painting style that has played a spiritual role in people’s lives for centuries. It originates from the Petrykivka village in the Dnepropetrovsk region, in central-south-eastern Ukraine, along the Dniepr river. In 2013 it was included to the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The main elements of Petrykivka are lush flowers, symbols of nature: mallow, peonies, asters, various wild flowers, and even those that the masters make up. The plant imagery is often combined with birds or firebirds, and sometimes with images of animals and people.

People believed that beauty held protective magic, and therefore they painted the external walls of their light clay houses, their windows and their doors with these colorful and magical ornamenta.They also painted interior walls, stoves, furniture, wedding chests, dishes, plates, cutting boards, jewelry boxes, and all sorts of household utensils.

Each housewife tried to make her house the most beautiful. They used sticks wrapped in cloth, brushes made of cathair or simply their fingers. The design is built around one or more plant stems, from which the rest of the elements grow but do not overlap. The colors are bright, saturated and flat. Smooth gradients are achieved by dipping the body of the brush into one color and the tip into another. Historically, Petrykivka painting was done exclusively on white backgrounds, although contemporary artists now use blue, green, red and most often, black.

Petrykivka has thrived as a modern art form, kept alive by the folk artists who chose to make it their profession. People enjoy the household items, souvenirs and other masterfully decorated items not only for their beauty, but the protection, warmth and prosperity they bring into the home. And that’s not to mention the mood lift that these cheerful masterpieces provide!