Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Pozaihlenne and Nastyl Embroidery of Pokuttia and West Podillia, Ukraine

Hello All, 
Today I will talk about an embroidery technique which is found in the Horoden'ka region of Pokuttia, and also in a few villages across the Dnister river in western Podillia, in the Buchach and Zalishchyky regions. Above you can see this stitch on a shoulder piece [ustawka] of a woman's shirt. This stitch is not used anywhere else, not even on the collar or cuffs of the same shirt. Both of these pieces shown above were made in the 1920's in the Zalishchyky region of Ternopil' oblast. 
This stitch is called pozaihlenne, as well as other similar names. It is a variant of the verkhoplut or topwinder stitch. 
This stitch begins by laying out short straight stitches in cotton thread which are all parallel. This forms the 'carcass' of the design. A second journey is then made diagonally across the ground threads, which rarely penetrates the cloth, except at the ends of a diagonal element. In Borshchiw, as I have written before, this is done in a heavy black wool, forming one of the types of curly stitch, but in the area which I am speaking of now it is done in untwisted silk floss.
Here is an ustawka from the village of Sadky, Zalishchyky region, Ternopil' oblast, with the carcass of a similar design shown below.

Here are a couple of diagrams which show how this stitch progresses. Pay especial attention to the triangle of solid stitching, which shows how the thread proceeds on the diagonal.

Here is an ustawka of a woman's shirt in progress.

Here are a few examples of women's ustawky and sleeves done in this technique, with auxiliary stitches.

The original colors used were either a brick red, as in this man's shirt from the village of Sadky, Zalishchyky region, Ternopil' Oblast;

Or a dark cherry red, as in this man's shirt from the village of Khmeleva, Zalishchyky region, Ternopil' Oblast.

Later other colors were added to these designs. Liudmyla Bulakova-Sytnyk shows this image of a woman's ustawka, which she says is from Vinnytsia Oblast, which I question.


Here is another woman's ustawka and sleeve with more colors added. The seam is under one of the rows of braid stitch at the right.


 Close examination the men's shirts, however, will reveal that they are made somewhat differently.

These were executed using a stitch called nastyl, which is laid down in diagonal lines in a similar fashion, but on the cloth itself rather than on a carcass of short stitches. The following diagram shows how to turn corners to make a diamond, but that is not done on these shirts.

The result on the back is a series of stitches laid straight, while the work on the front proceeds diagonally.

The stitches are laid in triangular fields, alternating direction with each field, and the diagonal edges, rather than being laid smoothly, are formed into little projections, each finished with  small cross stitch, so as to resemble the zaihlenne stitch.

The silk floss catches the light differently in the fields because the stitches are laid in different directions. This is the main beauty of this technique, which is also true of counted satin stitch.


Here are a couple of schematics which show how these designs were placed on men's shirts. These are unusual in having a zigzag outline to the design.

This shirt is from the village of Beremiany, Buchach region, Ternopil' Oblast.

 This shirt is from the village of Lysychnyky, Zalishchyky region, Ternopil' Oblast.

The cut of the shirt is of the long tunic type typical of this region, which reaches the knees, either with or without gores under the arms.

Men's shirts of this type also came in for elaboration of color and design.

Most of these final images are from various places online, and I unfortunately do not have exact provenances for them, However they must be from this same general area, and show us a very different sort of men's shirt embroidery than we are used to seeing. The cuffs and collars are done in a variety of other stitches.

  Often the addition of other colors is also combined with the addition of other stitches into the composition as well.

On this shirt, while the main design was executed in nastyl, the isolated stars were done in zaihlenne. This shirt also uses cross stitch, diagonal stitch, and braid stitch.


Thank you for reading. I hope that you have found this to be interesting and informative. 
I would very much like to see a revival of this technique, and see such shirts made and worn once again.

Roman K.


Source Material:
Liudmyla Bulakova-Sytnyk, 'Podil's'ka Narodna Vyshywka', L'viw, 2005
Olena Kulynych-Stakhurska, 'The Art of Ukrainian Embroidery', L'viw, 1996
Liudmyla and Oleksij Pokusynski, 'Borshchiws'ka Narodna Sorochka', Kyiw, 2012