LVIV — Brightly coloured, product of wooden, and distinguished by their flat profile, Yavoriv toys have been created by craftsmen in western Ukraine’s Carpathian Mountains for the reason that fifteenth century.
This 12 months, a nativity scene made within the conventional Yavoriv fashion is featured at an exhibition known as 100 Nativity Scenes on St. Peter’s Sq. within the Vatican. Although it’s being introduced for the primary time, the rotating biblical figures, housed in a chest, had been really made eight years in the past.
For its creators, Oksana Kohut and Ostap Soyka, having their works acknowledged and proven on the Vatican is a part of a protracted course of aimed toward gaining visibility and recognition for a very distinctive craft.
Kohut has been creating these toys for over 15 years. She feels that their recognition has room to develop, though protecting this artwork kind alive within the trendy world has confirmed problematic.
“A convention was held in Yavoriv, the place they talked about this craft and its historical past, and that is an excellent factor. However speaking is one factor,” she mentioned, earlier than mentioning that her and Sovka’s dream of getting a museum the place artisans can learn to make the toys has but to be realized.
“Our purpose is to protect this fashion and cross on the data to provide them,” Kohut mentioned.
“It is a pity, as a result of [creators] might cross on their data to others, however extra consideration must be paid to them,” she mentioned.
At first of the twentieth century, there have been almost 100 households within the area of Ivano-Frankivsk, which borders Poland to its west, who created wood figures on this folks fashion. Now there are only a handful of individuals.
“You must dwell this work; you must adore it very a lot,” Kohut mentioned.
Conventional Yavoriv artisans, who would typically promote their handmade wares in markets in Poland or Austria, couldn’t achieve this throughout the Soviet-era. Although kids nonetheless cherished the toys, the variety of individuals making them started to dwindle as their revenue from promoting them declined.
When Kohut and Soyka started their seek for inspiration in creating these items, they appeared to collections exhibited on the Andriy Sheptytsky Nationwide Museum in Lviv. Sheptytsky’s father Ivan, based a toy-making faculty — the State Woodworking Faculty — in Yavoriv in 1896. Nonetheless, the college closed throughout the Second World Battle.
“We, the truth is, made copies of these toys and continued for a very long time, as a result of our first job was to protect and proceed the custom,” Kohut mentioned.
The 2 artisans make roughly 20 various kinds of decorations and now battle to fulfill demand.
“Folks ask the place they will purchase the toys. There are photographs, however there isn’t a product. Many individuals wish to come, look, and purchase, however I’m not capable of obtain them,” Kohut mentioned.
For many who are capable of finding them — primarily collectors from overseas and from Ukraine — the prices of the toys have risen three to 5 instances over the previous few years resulting from varied elements, such because the sourcing of the sycamore wooden they’re constructed from.
Poland additionally creates related wood toys known as Yavorivska that intently resemble their Ukrainian counterparts. Their manufacturing in Lezajsk, in southeastern Poland, originates from a single craftsman who left Yavoriv to begin his personal workshop.
“If we don’t create a cultural heart, with a museum, a workshop the place previous toys will likely be collected, and new ones which are at present being made, then, after all, Poland might declare the Yavoriv toys model,” Kohut mentioned.
Kohut, who grew up surrounded by artisans from Ivano-Frankivsk, mentioned she was at all times attracted by the thought of working together with her fingers.
“Right here, individuals prefer to create varied issues from wooden. I grew up in that setting, surrounded by forests. I at all times gravitated towards wooden. I bear in mind seeing the primary exhibition of Yavoriv toys, which was organized by masters from the college.”
For Kohut, there may be pleasure in creating toys with fowl’s wings that flap, furnishings for dolls, grasshoppers, rattlesnakes, dancers, and the rest that may fireplace a toddler’s creativeness.
“All the pieces depends upon the mother and father, how they train the kid, how they instill love for Ukrainian tradition and artwork. And this must be executed from childhood,” she says.
Kohut additionally longs for the time when mother and father would cross down toys from one era to the subsequent.
“It’s already a collector’s merchandise, a murals,” she says. “It can’t compete with the trendy world of toys, however is that obligatory when the Yavoriv toy is a murals and part of our tradition?”