Good-Natured and Sincere Nation
Traveler’s Memories about Ukraine
- Interesting information about Ukraine gave Karl J. Hildebrandt – Member of the Swedish embassy to Hetman Bogdan Khmelnytsky, who visited Ukraine in 1556-1557 years. In his telling about Ukrainian everyday life, Hildebrandt describes in details clothing and customs of women. He writes that “their garments in winter were a long hood, without any other cover. In addition, around their lower part of the body they had a wide strip red weaved of wool. They are tightened with it so hard that body shapes are very obvious. However, in the front they tie an apron; they also wear boots and on their heads they wear white cotton scarves; on the upper part of the body they wear laced (obviously embroidered) shirts without blouses.They dance very well, of course adjusting to husband’s steps, however, while dancing they look light-hearted and fervently. “Hildebrandt noticed “Cossack women are very brave, they like to drink some alcohol, and when it comes to work they ask their men to do it.”
- Traveller Ulrich von Werdum visited Ukraine in 1670-1672. He wrote “In Lviv life is so beautiful, there are delicate and seductive brides, I have never met like that on the whole Earth.The peasant women wear shirts made of coarse linen, wealthy girls wear embroidered nankeen, besides all body shapes can be seen so clearly as if they are naked. The upper part of the shirts around the neck is brought together in a circle and elegantly framed with colored cotton. Their hips are tied with red, yellow, green or other color belts and it looks so quite well. As for the decoration of the head, it is determined by the great accuracy. They decorate it with fresh summer flowers and green wreaths, in winter the girls must replace them with wax wreaths. There are also rings on their fingers and very large earrings and beads made of crystal, glass, copper, according to the imagination and finances.”
- Extensive memories of Ukraine left Swedish serjeant Veiga. Describing in details Ukrainian clothes, among other things he noticed that women’s skirt was made of a thin woollen cloth of different colours, and it fitted to the body very tightly and perfectly shaped it.
- Petr Shalikov, Russian sentimentalist writer, journalist and publisher. (his work “Journey to Little Russia”, Moscow, 1803-1804), coming to Ukraine in 1803, wrote: “Having seen Little Russia (here he means Ukraine), my eyes could not stop looking at the whitewashed cottages, neat clothes of the inhabitants, gentle sweet looks of attractive local women.” Describing the happy life and customs among the Ukrainian nobility, the author was surprised that at balls next to the gentry he met families of priests. “This fact — says Petr Shalikov — may indicate a degree of enlightenment: among the local priests and the way how they raise their children”. “In general women here are cute, almost all with “languid” and yet passionate eyes, in which mercy of the soul and heart is so evident. Nature has placed on their faces a sign of love and affection”.
- Vividly describes the life and appearance of the Ukrainians Izmaylov (“The Journey to the midday Russia, in letters”. Moscow, 1800). About family life, he writes that it is marked with a lot of love, respect, and trust: “the mutual love creates in their household the better harmony and order than the Russian authority power and obedience.
- French physician De La Frieze in his “Notes” on his captivity in 1812, being in Chernihiv region, gives some information about Ukrainian customs. Enthusiastically describing Ukrainian folk dances, including ”Cossachok”, he says that “Women performed the dance with such fineness and grace that they would for sure deserve applauses even on the Paris stage.”
- Out of the whole nineteenth century, perhaps the most interesting description of travel to Ukraine gives I. G. Kohl, his work “Die Ukraine, Kleinrussland” (1841). Kohl, a prominent scientist, and traveller, founder of anthropogeography, travelled all over the whole Ukraine from Kharkov to Odessa, and from Odessa to Przemysl. While saying that there are many flower-gardens in Ukrainian towns, he adds: “on Sundays, girls go to these gardens, majestically decorate their heads with flowers like princesses. They love flowers so much that they decorate themselves even on weekdays, while working and thus look like flower fairies. And they love to sing and do it in such a way that you feel such emotions which you will hardly experience anywhere else. Women are engaged in a very hard work but they constantly sing like nightingales. And it is really hard to tell the reader in words this full of life picture!”