June 1, 2013

0662 UKRAINE - A Cossack kobzar

His name is Ostap Kindrachuk, was born in 1937 in Horodenka (a small town now in Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast, in western Ukraine), and lives în Yalta (Crimea). He attempt to recreate the Ukrainian Cossack's image, which to transmit to the younger generations, and is also a bandurist, his repertoire including the national ballads, historical and folk songs and songs of today, sung not only in Ukrainian or Russian, but also in Polish, German, Tatar or Romanian.

The Cossacks (from the Cuman "Cosac" - "free man", "adventurer") are a group of predominantly East Slavic people (but not only), who played an important role in the history of both Ukraine and Russia. Their origins are disputed, but it seems that in the 14th century there were two connected groups, the Zaporozhian Sich (west of the Dnieper) and the Don Cossack Host, until the end of the 19th century the number of groups expanding to 11. They served as defenders of the borders, firstly of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth ones, and later of the Russian ones, but the expansionist ambitions of both entered often into conflict with the Cossacks spirit of freedom and with their democratic self-rule traditions, which resulted to many rebellions, and even in major anti-imperial wars.

By the end of the 18th century, Cossack nations were transformed into a special military estate (Sosloviye), in fact "a military class", which played an important role in all the Russia’s wars. Further, the Tsarist regime employed extensively Cossacks to perform police service, to suppress the revolutionary movements, and as border guards on internal ethnic borders. During the Russian Civil War, they formed the core of the anti-Bolshevik White Army, so after the victory of the Red Army, the Cossack lands were subjected to Decossackization and the man-made famine of 1932-33 (Holodomor). Today self-identification "Cossack" is an important part of cultural heritage of people in modern Ukraine, Southern Russia, Volga, Ural, Siberian regions and the Russian Far East.

Ostap Kindrachuk is a Zaporozhian Cossack and he looks like one. Draw attention first the haircut and the mustache, both specific to these people. As said the frontman of the band Gogol Bordello, Eugene Hutz, "There is saying in Ukraine that a man without a mustache is like a woman with one.” He wears a loose, lightweight shirt (pansky), that was host to all manner of embroidery, trimming, and smocking. The trousers, equally loose, similar to Ottoman sirwal, are tucked in the riding boots. Over the shirt and trousers he wears a chokha, that is a long coat, tailored at the waist, adorned with gazirys, the ammunition loops across the shoulders, which are used today only for decorative uses. Obvious, the Cossack clothes are very similar to those worn by the Caucasian populations.

As I said, Ostap is a bandurist so he plays the bandura, a plucked string folk instrument which combines elements of a box zither and lute, basically a more advanced kobza, with 30 to 68 strings. Actually bandurists are sometimes named kobzars. The earliest mention of the term bandura dates back to a Polish chronicle of 1441, but in the hands of the Zaporozhian cossacks, this instrument underwent significant transformations, due to the development of a specific repertoire.

About the stamps 

Regarding the stamps, Elena spoiled me, using not a stamp, but a block, issued to commemorate 80 years of Donetsk Region on September 25, 2012. It depicts International airport Donetsk, named after Sergei Prokofiev.

The second is a stamp issued on Octomber 14, 2012, to celebrate 500 years from the foundation of the city of Chyhyryn, which was between 1648 and 1669 the capital of Cossack Hetmanate, the Ukrainian Cossack state founded by Ukrainian hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky during the Khmelnytsky Uprising (1648–1657). The site was also a traditional place for the appointment to the office of Hetman of Zaporizhian Host. So a very suitable stamp for this postcard.

This is a post for Postcard Friendship Friday #170, hosted on Beth's blog The Best Hearts are Crunchy. Click on the button below to visit all the other participants.

Cossacks - Wikipedia
Cossack - Encyclopaedia Britannica
The Cossacks - Giacomo Di Grasse - His true Art of Defense
Those Incorrigible Cossacks! - Multiculturalism for Steampunk
Costume of the Caucasian Region - Folk Costume & Embroidery

sender: Elena Olimpieva (direct swap)
sent from Mariupol (Donetsk / Ukraine), on 22.05.2013


  1. I adore this post. Wow--you did a LOT of research. I had never heard of a bandurist before. What a wonderful instrument. The postcard is exquisite. I love the look of that musician. I want to draw him.

    I have always loved the people of Germany, Poland and Romania. My heritage lies there. Thank you so much for sharing today!

    Have a great weekend and happy Postcard Friendship Friday!

  2. Hello dear,

    Well new week, new travel and again "souvenirs souvenirs" I will send this link to my girl friend Natacha she will probably love to hear some traditional ukraine music.

    This bandura is quite impressive and reminds me of west african instrument.

    Have a wonderful sunday


  3. I would like to add photos I took of Ostap. However I do not see a way to add photos here. He enchanted us with his performance in Dresden 4 years ago. I hope he is well and still performing.