April 19, 2015

1530 BELARUS - Belarusian traditional ornaments


Textile is one of the most ancient art forms in Belarus, and the geometric ornaments are so important in this country, that are present on its national flag. It was taken from a hand towel embroidered in 1917 by Matrena Markevich from the village of Kastsilishcha, Senna district. Many of these ornaments are pre-Christian, being used in sacred East Slavic rituals, religious services and ceremonial events such as weddings and funerals, and, although they have undergone some changes over time, they have survived until today. The ritual cloth embroidered with symbols and cryptograms of the ancient world is named Rushnyk. Each region has its own designs and patterns with hidden meaning, passed down from generation to generation.

The rectangular shape of the fabric indicates a life's journey and the ornamentation captures the cultural ancestral memory of the region. The act of spinning thread and the process of weaving linen embodies spiritual power dating back to the ancient deity Mokosh who is often represented in embroidery. The needle has its own energy, an idea similar to acupuncture. A rushnyk is given to a baby at birth, it follows the person throughout life and used in the funeral service. In Belarusian language there are several words to denote Rushnyk, depending on their different functions.

Colour plays a very important symbolic role in traditional Slavic embroidery. White symbolizes the purity, and red is the colour of life, the sun, fertility and health. Actually, the very word "red" means "beautiful" and "splendid" in Ruthenian. The majority of Rushnyks are embroidered with red threads. The diamond-shaped design of the rushnyk is an ancient agricultural symbol, which means a sown field, or the sun, and expresses the idea of fertility and protection against evil. Ducks, in the centre of the rushnyk, symbolize the element of life-giving water. In wedding folklore a duck and a drake symbolize a bride and a groom, in other words a pair of ducks is a symbol of family life.

About the stamps
The stamp, depicting Lily / Zorenka, is part of the series The Central Botanical Garden of NAS of Belarus - Flowers, bout which I wrote here.

References
Rushnyk - Wikipedia
Belarusian Textiles - The Virtual Guide to Belarus
Belarusian Rushnyk - The Virtual Guide to Belarus

Sender: Ekaterina / Bazan_Ekaterina (postcrossing) BY-1581722
Sent from Bobruysk (Mogilev / Belarus), on 30.03.2015

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