Recording south-western Ukrainian pottery: disappearing skills, knowledge and vessels

By Michela Spataro, Viacheslav Kushnir, Romana Motyl, and Nadiya Borenko | 12 August 2022

This project, a collaboration between the University of Odessa, the Ethnology Institute of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, and the Museum of Folk Architecture and Life in Lviv (Ukraine) and the British Museum (UK), will record two endangered traditions of pottery production in south-western Ukraine, at Kobolchyn, in northern Bukovina (Chernivtsi administrative region), and another at Pyrizhna, on the northern border of Odessa administrative region. Until the mid-20th century, pottery making was an important part of the rural economy in both areas. Traditional pottery making was strongly connected with daily life. Both areas were ethnically diverse, with Ukrainian, Romanian, Polish, German and Jewish components, which are reflected in traditional crafts.

Traditional pottery making at Pyrizhna ended within living memory. The last surviving potter has agreed to rebuild his kiln and make a set of pots by traditional methods, in order for these to be recorded in detail. At Kobolchyn, three active potters remain from what was an important production centre, renowned for making smoke-blackened pottery. In both areas, we will record how pottery was made, the potters’ knowledge and skills, using film, photography and interviews, in order to preserve these traditions, which are in danger of being lost. The recordings will include how pottery craft was embedded in the local community, social values, traditions, houses, and environment. This work will also be presented at outreach events at local museums. Films and photographs will be freely accessible online, together with detailed publication texts.

 

PI:
Michela Spataro

Collaborators:
Vyacheslav Kushnir
Romana Motyl
Nadiya Borenko

Location of Research:
Kobolchyn, Chernivtsi and Pyrizhna, Odessa

Host Institution:
The British Museum

 

 

Top Banner Image: Wheel-made black-burnished earthenware. Kobolchyn, Chernivtsi region, end of the 20th century. (Photo: Hanna Savchuk)