Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Chernobyl Victims, 22 years later

I did a handful of research on what the media is printing about Chernobyl today. A reporter and a photographer have created a photo essay. It is titled "Nuclear Nightmares." They have documented people and places affected by the disaster. Here is a pictoral example:

I advise everyone to check out this website:

The kids in the picture above are twin brothers. The normal looking one is deaf.
The other has hydrocephalus. This is just one example of the thousands who
have defects or cancer as a result of the distaster.

From this research, I was alarmed at the number of people who developed health
problems with their thyroids. Genetic mutations seem to be common in areas that
were contaminated. What's worse is that people did not know at first what areas, such as rivers, they should not use. I have developed a better understanding as to why this is
considered the world's worst nuclear disaster ever. I really do hope that more can be done to help these types of people and that no further damage comes from this tragedy.


Friday, April 18, 2008

Ukrainian Immigration - Chernobyl victim

Sadly I missed the field trip and like all of you have been caught up in all the finals, and just found time to do an extra post.  But, seeing as how many posts have "beat me to it" on this topic and are similar to one another, I think I'll try to tinker around with something no one has covered yet.

Vova Malifienko was a Ukrainian youth who came to the USA in 1990 seeking treatment for his leukemia.  He was able to come to the United States from the Ukraine thanks to Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall gang which is a camp for sick kids.  While here he met a doctor who gave him a cancer treatment who put his leukemia into remission.  The other seven kids who were with him were forced back to the Ukraine and ended up dying due to poor medical treatment.

He was faced with the same prospect, but appealed to the government to grant him permanent residency, and thankfully was allowed to stay.  "Vova demonstrates the qualities all American value," said Senator Frank Lautenberg, Democrat from New Jersey.

Ukrainian Paganism, Past and Present

For the vast majority of Ukrainian history, its people – the Slavs – have been pagan (worshiping a multitude of divine beings). Over the long period of time prior to Christianity’s adoption, the Rus’ (former name for Ukraine) had developed a strong culture, tied into their religious beliefs. In 988 C.E., when Prince Vladimir of Kiev baptized the Rus’, thereby denouncing paganism and officially adopting Christianity. However, he was only able to weaken polytheism’s grip on the Ukraine. The remnants of it still persist to the present day.
There are numerous examples of paganism’s presence in today’s Ukraine. Many such examples are the multitude of traditions practiced in conjunction with various Christian holidays. One such holiday is Ivana Kupala, which is supposed to be a celebration of John the Baptist. However many Ukrainians celebrating this holiday practice pagan pleasures such as jumping over a burning fire with a partner to purge the soul. These practices are part of its past. This tradition shows an attempt of an early way of Ukrainians to retain their rich and ancient religious culture.
One other such famous “textbook example” is the ancient ritual of pysanka or what is presently known as Easter egg decoration. As before, the sun, along with other major parts of nature, was given extreme respect. Eggs were painted with symbolic plants, animals and other living and non-living beings and were used in sun worship celebrations and later kept as juju’s. However, just as in Ivana Kupala, pysanky and its many symbols were blended with the Christian holiday Easter.

Immigrants in Cleveland

Growing up in Cleveland, I have often heard the saying that it is a “Melting Pot.” This brought me to wonder if any Ukrainians were involved in creating this melting pot, and  I was very excited when I found out that they were.

 Cleveland’s Polish immigrants began their immigration in the mid-19th century. They settled with the Czechs in what we now call Newburgh Heights and Slavic Village, in the area that was surrounding the Cuyahoga Valley. The St. Stanislaus Church was founded in 1888, and was a great influence on the community. Polish is still the language spoken in Slavic Village, as the people who live there celebrate their heritage each May Day and have a Harvest Festival in August.

 The first Ukrainian immigrants to arrive in Cleveland arrived in the mid-1870s. The majority settled in the Tremont neighborhood. More recent immigrants have created a Ukrainian commune in Parma, which is to the south of Cleveland. This community has Ukrainian newspapers, radio programs, and a museum: The Ukrainian Museum on Kenilworth in Tremont. Since I missed the field trip, I think visiting this museum in the heart of a Ukrainian area would be a great opportunity. Churches in the area, such as Sts. Peter and Paul in Tremont as well as St. Josaphat in Parma hold services in Ukrainian.

 Upon their arrival, the Ukrainian community life in Cleveland revolved solely around the church and fraternal unions. The largest of these organizations is the Ukrainian National Association, which began in 1902. They held their 100th convention in Cleveland, and presently have 14 branches. The community is clearly developing over time.

 I found it thrilling that after learning so much about Ukraine this semester, I was fortunate enough to learn that Ukrainian-Americans first settled in the city that I grew up in the 1880s.

Ukrainian Immigration the United States

Before World War I, almost 500,000 Ukrainians emigrated to the United States due to harsh conditions and oppression from the Soviet Empire as well as a lack of work for many farmers. The great influx of Ukrainians and their need for Orthodox Catholicism led to the creation of bishops for the Greek Orthodox Church in both the United States and Canada. The need for solidarity and independence was a catalyst for man Ukrainian nationalist organizations throughout America as avenues to keep in touch with their homeland. Even today, many ideas and cultural information is passed from the Ukraine to America through these organizations that are still very active today. This massive movement is sometimes called the Ukrainian Diaspora. 

During World War II and up until 1991, over a million and a half Ukrainians emigrated to the United States due to the constant and violent oppression by the Soviet Union and the surrounding war-torn countries as well as economic hardship throughout the country. 

In Michigan, there is a very large Ukrainian population and the surrounding area of Hamtramck, has many resulting buildings and customs relative to this fact. The majority of churches in Hamtramck are Greek Orthodox and much of the food and customs, as well as holidays, celebrated in the area are of Ukrainian descent with many festivals and customary foods and celebrations. The success of many Ukrainians in America is a fantastic testament to their bravery and resolve in fleeing their oppression and beginning anew in an entirely foreign country. 

Three Waves of Ukrainian Immigration

Ukrainian Americans, or residents of the U.S. who trace their ancestry back to Ukraine, are a large group of people that reside in this country. In the 2000 census, it showed that there are 862,000 Americans of Ukrainian decent living in the United States, most of which reside in the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, and California. 
There were three waves of emigrants from Ukraine that moved to the United States.

 The first wave took place in the 1870's and ended in 1914 because Ukrainian territory at that time was divided among a number of neighboring countries. When Ukrainians entered the US, they were not listed as Ukrainian, but as Poles, Slovaks, Hungarians, or Russians. About 500,000 Ukrainians, most from Western Ukraine, entered the US during this time period. Most of these people found work in the coal mines of Pennsylvania or on farms in the Dakota's. This first wave of Ukrainian immigrants established parishes and built churches.

The second wave of Ukrainian immigrants to the US came between the time period of 1920 to 1939. During this time period in Ukrainian history it was once again divided among the countries of Soviet Russia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Romania. Many Ukrainians sought out refuge from there divided and oppressed country and decided to move abroad. Due to the enactment of US immigration laws, only 40,000 Ukrainians were allowed to immigrate into the US during this time period. The ones that got in settled in large urban areas, such as New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Chicago, and Detroit. This wave shifted the Ukrainian American life from the rural areas to the major cities. 

The third wave of immigrants from Ukraine to the United States took place after Congress passed the Displaced Persons Act in 1948. This piece of legislation permitted hundreds of thousands of refugees from eastern Europe to immigrate into the US. Ukrainians that were fleeing religious and political persecution from USSR arrived in the US and settled in the major cities of the Atlantic seaboard and in the Midwest. 


Thursday, April 17, 2008

ukrainians in America

The first major immigration of Ukrainians to the United States probably occurred around 1870, but it is impossible to determine the exact number of immigrants because the United States did not record their nationality, only their country of origin. The initial migration occurred as a result of the abolishment of slavery in the Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires. The United States represented a new world with the hope of new jobs and escape from being limited to the poor working class. As soon as a substantial Ukrainian population was established in America they went to great lengths to ensure that they had a unified and organized community.

According the United States census of 1990, there were 750,000 individuals of Ukrainian descent living in America, but many people believe that the number today is closer to one, or even two million. Originally, the Ukrainian population was largely centered around major industrial cities, but today they are spread out all over the country. One of the largest single concentrations of Ukrainians living in the United States is now in the Chicago Metropolitan area, with close to 50,000 residents consider themselves to be of Ukrainian descent.

Originally the Ukrainian population in the Chicago Metropolitan area was mainly limited to West Town. Now there are significant concentrations in Cook, DuPage, and Lake Counties. In the Chicago area there is the Ukrainian National Museum as well as the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art. Chicago is often the site of many visits from touring groups from Ukraine, and new immigrants are making their homes their every day.

To learn more follow these links:

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Carol of the Bells: Shchedryk

Check This Out!

So do any of you know where the Christmas song "Carol of the Bells" came from?

While searching for a special Ukrainian immigrant culture in the United States, I have found that
The “Carol of the Bells,” a classic American Christmas song, was first introduced to American audiences by a Ukrainian choir on Oct. 5, 1921 at Carnegie Hall, NY. The original song was written by Mykola Dmytrovych Leontovych as a New Year's Chant and was called Shchedryk (comes from the word, bountiful, in Ukrainian). The original Ukrainian text is based on the tale of a swallow flying into a household to proclaim the plentiful and bountiful year that the family will have. It was later adapted in English by Peter Wilhousky.

Mykola Dmytrovych Leontovych was a famous Ukrainian composer, choral director and a world-renowned teacher. After the Ukraine's Independence in 1918, he taught at the Kiev Conservatory and Mykola Lysenko Institute of Music and Drama. However, he was tragically murdered by a Soviet State Security agent during the night of Jan. 21-22, 1921.

Here is a clip of an original song in Ukraine (found in Youtube):

And here is the English version (also from Youtube):

more info:

Ukrainians in America

The first documented Ukrainian immigrant to the United States was Levrenty Bohun, a doctor who was in Jamestown with Captain John Smith in 1608. Immigration from Ukraine to the US can be divided into four main periods. The first major period was from 1870-1899. During this period, approximately 240,000 to 500,000 Ukrainians immigrated. The second wave of immigrants, 250,000 Ukrainians came between 1900-1914 ending as World War I began. The third immigration period was from 1920-1939 between the World Wars. An estimated figure of between 20,000 to 40,000 Ukrainians arrived in the U.S. during this time period. The last wave of immigration came after WWII when approximately 85,000 Ukrainians came to the US. According to the 1990 U.S. Census, there are about 750,000 Americans of Ukrainian descent.

The Ukrainian Americans have had great impact on professional sports in the US.
Many have excelled in hockey, football, baseball, and soccer. Three Ukrainians have been inducted into the NFL's Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. These three athletes are Bronko Nagurski, Church Bednarik, and Mike Ditka. Bill Mosienko of the Chicago Blackhawks holds the NHL record for the fastest "hat trick" scoring all three goals with in 21 seconds.

Wayne Gretzky, holder of many NHL records and currently #1 on the list of top 50 hockey players of all time, is also of Ukrainian decent. His Grandmother was born in Pidhaitse Ukraine, and his Grandfater is from Belarus. Wayne's father spoke Ukrainian as his first language.
Two Ukrainians still playing in the NHL are Nikolai Zherdev of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Alexei Zhitnik of the New York Islanders. Another famous Ukrainian is the host of Jeopardy, Alex Trebek. Alex Trebek, who woulda thought? Its exciting to learn about famous Americans of Ukrainian decent and specifically, their involvement in professional athletics!

For more information on Ukrainians in the US visit:

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Ukraine Baroque: Beautiful Art Form

We've discussed many aspects of Ukrainian culture (and cultures within Ukraine). The many art forms are also very important to describing Ukrainian Culture. Baroque style is one of those art forms.

According to the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, it emerged during the Cossak period. Certain features are unique to baroque style. The terms Ukraine baroque or Cossak baroque are the given names because of these features. Specifically, Ukraine baroque is a moderate, simple style in comparison to the tradional style Western Europe which is more decorative.

I've posted an example of the baroque style. It is the St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery in Kyiv.

I think Ukraine baroque is a beautiful art form. This is not an architecture that I am used to seeing on buildings here in the United States. These buildings are great for photography and seem as if they exist a world away.

Another amazing point I'd like to discuss is the longevity of these structures. This art form came about in the 17th and 18th century. The St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery was built in the middle ages, but parts of it was reconstructed in the 18th century to accomodate baroque style.

It would be interesting to see baroque structures in the United States.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Ukrainian Museum, New York

Since I missed the field trip on Monday, April 14, I decided that it was important to gain the hands-on Ukrainian experience that all of you, my peers, have been exposed to. Since I am spending the summer in New York, I figured that the best way to gain this knowledge is to find a museum there. Through much research, I found The Ukrainian Museum located in New York City.

The museum has many exhibits, and I will discuss the three most recent. The first one was just completed on April 6. It was called Ukrainian Museum at 30- Paintings and Sculptures. The aim of this exhibit was to highlight the museum’s collections that have been displayed over the past 30 years. Many of the artists whose work was shown in this display loved and worked in the Diaspora in various parts of the world for the majority of their adult lives, after being forced to leave Ukraine. Their work is very interesting as their work’s roots are clearly a reflection of their Ukrainian heritage.

Another recent exhibit is called Thread to the Past: Ukrainian Folk Art from the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. Apparently, a collection of folk art objects, including the ones in the picture I attached, were bought for display at the Chicago World’s Fair by the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America. These items are now on display at the Museum in New York. I was surprised to learn that more than 100 of the 600 items that were purchased by the UNWLA for display in Chicago and these were viewed by almost 2 million visitors to the Ukrainian pavilion.
The last recent display is called The Pysanka and the Rushnyk: Guardians of Life. I was so excited to see the word “Pysanka” as I was already familiar with this term from Steve Taylor’s post! The exhibit presents over 200 of the unique eggs along with a selection of ritual cloths, created by noted Ukrainian artists.

Many Ukrainian artists, such as Alexander Archipenko, Vasyl Hryhorovych Krychevsky, and Oleksa Hryshchenko, contributed to the museum’s incredible displays. The museum offers education programs, such as guided tours, workshops, family programs, and school programs. They also offer classes in embroidery, bead stringing, Ukrainian Christmas traditions, pysanky workshops, and more. I was also excited to learn that they offer a baking traditional wedding breads workshop, as I was inclined to learn more about this topic because of Deborah’s post on the korovai.

The museum sports a news link, where you can learn what’s going on at the museum if you’re interested in visiting. The link is The website that I gained my information on this topic and the following picture is from If you have any questions or will be in New York this summer and wish to come visit the museum, let me know! Also, there is a gift shop on the website where you can purchase Ukrainian media, gifts, jewelry, pysanky, and plenty more. Enjoy!

Chernobyl. How the world found out

Information about the Chernobyl disaster was not disclosed by the Soviet Authoritities until strangely high levels of radiation were detected on the suits of workers at a nuclear power facility in Sweden. Nuclear particles were discovered on the suits of workers at the Forsmark facility. High levels of radioactive particles were discovered when power plant workers were tested for presence of radioactivity before entering for work shifts. After the alarming levels were discovered the power plant was put into alert mode, however, no explanation could be given that would trace the particles to the power plant in Sweden. By this time a radioactive cloud had spread through much of Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, Scandinavia, and Western Europe. Finnish authorities also detected alarmingly high levels of radioactivity that could simply not be traced back to domestic power plants. After much investigation by Swedish experts it was determined that the source of radiation originated somewhere in the Soviet Union. Once the suspicions were made public, the Soviet Union had not choice but to inform the world of what had happened in Chernobyl. The delay in reaction had probable negative effects on the response that should have been taken as a result of the high levels of radioactivity that engulfed much of Europe. Belarus that received over 60% of the radioactivity suffered the most in terms of immediate and long term health effects. Once the news was made public, iodine especially, was adminstered to children in regions that experienced the radioactivte cloud. Many speculate that whatever measures were taken were too little and too late.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Re-post of Holodomor

I know much has been discussed on this topic already-in blogs, class, and in the films, but I wrote this earlier in the semester and still would like to post it; just for some more added detail, if anything.
I re-attached the comments other students made on it as well. Thanks!


Because Ukraine was a soviet republic, obviously it was under jurisdiction of the Stalin-led government and policies of the time. In the late 20’s, a soviet-wide agricultural policy, originally voluntary, known as ‘collectivization’ was implemented.

As a pre-cursor, farming in Ukraine (over 50% of the Soviet Union was fed on the enormous output of grains, fruits, and vegetables from Ukrainian lands) was faced with various droughts, seed shortages, and tilling problems beginning in 1927. Because of this, and a poor soviet food supply/delivery system, urban areas began to see food shortages. This led to a soviet food rationing program, intensively focused in Ukraine, and later in the rest of the USSR.

Collectivization was poorly implemented, and thus less than 6% of Ukrainian farms had taken part by 1930. After this, Stalin pressed for further progress, and eventually many Ukrainian livestock farms began taking part, slaughtering livestock at higher rates to meet government demand. Eventually, on January 5, 1930, Stalin set the deadline for the entire collectivization of the Ukrainian SSR by the spring of 1932. Through heavy local authoritative pressure, more than 70% of the Ukrainian population was quickly and forcibly made to join the collective and turn over all agricultural products. Many who could not meet initial quotas were striped of all property, lands, and houses. These peasant farmers were usually deported to other parts of the USSR.

Faced by heavy resistance from the general population, some pressure of the plan was alleviated for a short time. However, the government forced a switch of the Ukrainian region from primarily grain-producing to that of a diverse, multi-crop system. Through drought, a dilapidated supply chain, poor soviet managing and plan implementation, the produced crops could not be obtained or delivered. Much of it sat to rot, remained unharvested, or was uncollected. Only 79% of the total was reached. During this process, many peasants starved to death and suffered from malnutrition. In the ensuing aftermath, high government expectations, while continually decreased, still grew in disparity with actual agricultural production. By 1932, many oblasts of Ukraine were reporting record-low grain production and widespread death from famine.

Because of the overbearing, enforcing, and strong nature of the Soviet regime, extensive measures were undertaken to protect ‘government property’. Officials were given orders to prosecute anyone withholding or bargaining grain. This was done by state agents who actually raided farms to collect grain; Food was taken regardless of whether the peasants had enough grain to feed themselves, or whether they had enough seed left to plant the next harvest. One of the policy leaders, was noted as saying “Repression must be taken to the limit, so that they will not mock us for our impotence.” The attitude clearly became that of punishment rather than help or production.

From 1932 to 1933, authorities established barricades along the border of the USSR to prevent any peasants from leaving all hunger-stricken regions; As a result, all travel from Ukraine was prohibited. In a single month in 1933, over a quarter million people were captured attempting to flee the region, and escorted back or arrested and sentenced. The Holodomor was virtually unknown outside of the country and around the world because of the intense secrecy and cover-up of the soviet regime; Few journalists ever witnessed the famine as external observers during this period.

Soviet authorities rarely relented to the people’s pleas for help, only granting aid to those who were recovering and not suffering from starvation- in order for them to return to the fields as soon as possible. The famine arrived at a time when the Soviet Union was single-handedly and systematically destroying Ukrainian culture. Beginning in 1928 and ensuing for a decade, a major portion of the Ukrainian peasantry was exterminated, in addition to the closing of thousands of Ukrainian churches, schools, museums and made so that they never existed. Ukrainian music, writing, and art was completely censored, and religious organizations were shut down. Also, almost all influential Ukrainian scientists, politicians, cultural leaders, and blind-storytelling ‘Kobzars’ were called to a special conference and either killed or deported to camps in Siberia.

There have been countless estimates, given by a variety of sources over time to the number of deaths caused by Holodomor. Most commonly, between 4.5 and 5 million people in Ukraine were have believed to have died in ways relating to starvation and famine, although some claims are as high as 10, and even 20 million.

Similar to certain laws of the same type in Germany surrounding the Holocaust, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko recently stated his attempt to create a law criminalizing the denial of Holodomor. Although debate continues on what caused the Holodomor (natural events, bad policy, poor infrastructure, or intent neglect), scholars and politicians continue to attempt to define the Holodomor as a type of Genocide, in order to give the ‘engineered famine’ the world recognition and acknowledgement it deserves.

Because I was raised in a home heavily influenced by Ukrainian culture- by a large Ukrainian family- It is hard to write a history of the Holodomor in an unbiased way. I have read many books and heard countless stories on Holodomor, some passed from generation to generation, and some from those who have directly survived the early 30’s in Ukraine. However, the main theme throughout each one is a hatred the of Stalin and the soviet regime. The anger and incredible pain is quite simply, unforgettable when a survivor shares his or her stories. Many times, the famine made the people of Ukraine turn on themselves in a frightening fight for survival. As a student, it is important to objectively look at the facts of the events, but I cannot help but feel outrage by the relative neglect this event has seen in the history of eastern Europe. The conditions are set-up to label the Holodomor as an obvious genocide; however, the legacy of denial by Russia and Soviet supporters carries so much weight and power that it continues to hold the Ukrainian people down, 70 years after the blow was dealt.

Past Commentaries:

I just read this and I have to say that the newspaper clipping you found with pictures taken during the Holodomor really affected me. I can definitely see how it would be difficult to NOT have a bias concerning the issue, as you pointed out. What really baffled me about the situation is that there were collectivized crops sitting out to rot due to inefficiencies in planning while people and their animals starved. This reminded me of some of the situation I studied in a class dealing with Imperialism and Colonialization, where people in India and Africa suffered crippling poverty or terrible starvation while their own resources (the same ones that could have helped cure these problems!) were shipped off to Europe. It made me wonder if Stalin's treatment of Ukrainian peasants during this period can be fairly compared to the Imperialists' treatment of peasants in the undeveloped nations they conquered....

Steve Taylor-
Nice. I can see where people would tend to call this a genocide, especially with examples like "from 1932 to 1933, authorities established barricades along the border of the USSR to prevent any peasants from leaving all hunger-stricken regions." That seems pretty intentional to me.__The entire situation strikes me as a microcosm of how poorly executed and inhumane the Soviet system was. I will never be able to understand how a country with so little regard for human life and freedom and entrepreneurship managed to remain one of two world superpowers for nearly 50 years.


Rok Ekzystentsiya is arguably the most important music festival in the Ukraine. The first Rok Ekzystentsiya festival was held in 1996. Since then a lot of rock musicians, both Ukranian and foreign, have performed at the festival. Guests such as Rick Wakemen, member of the former rock band YES, have performed at Rok Ekzystentsitya. Since it is a Ukrainian rock festival, naturally enough the list of leading Ukrainian rockers that performed on Rok Ekzystentsiya stages is much longer — VV, Komu Vnyz, Plach Yeremiyi, MOTOR’ROLLA, Mertvy Piven, Okean Elzy, Mandry, Haydamaky, Tartak, Perkalaba, to name but a few of the best known ones.

The man who stands behind Rok Ekzystentsiya festivals, the man who organizes, directs and inspires the festival is Taras Hrymalyuk. The way that the festival started is very interesting. In the 1990s’ rock music was very popular in the Ukraine. Musicians were playing all over the country and finally Hrymalyuk decided to bring them together to play together at one festival. It started off as a one day event, but by 1997 the festival was already up to three days. The 33 bands that played represented all parts of Ukraine.

Rok Ekzystentsiva brings like-minded people together. Rok Ekzystentsiya was described once as a festival of music for people with higher education. The festival attracts a lot of media attention. Many musicians play Rok Ekzystentsiva early in their career and gain fame immediately. New rockers get the opportunity to play alongside some of the most recognized rockers in Ukraine. Talent scouts, journalists and promoters seek good musicians out and offer contracts and recording sessions.

Rok Ekzystentsiya has acquired a high reputation and it is probably the recognized even by rockers at the main festival in Ukraine.. Such leading performers as Oleh Skrypka, Mykhaylo Barbara, Foma, Taras Chubay and Andriy Sereda call Rok Ekzystentsiya “Number One Rock Festival in Ukraine. - 27k -

Ukrainian Immigration to the US

The 2000 United States Census lists 862,762 persons of Ukrainian ancestry. ( However, there were some problems with the methodology of the census, and individuals who used historical or geographic terms to identify themselves were counted with other groups. Many individuals identified their country of origin (such as Russia, Poland, or Austria) rather than their ethnic background. As a result, some demographers estimate that there are actually between one and two million Americans of Ukrainian background.

States with the largest Ukrainian-American populations include:

1. New York- 148,700
2. Pennsylvania- 122,291
3. California- 83,125
4. New Jersey- 73,809
5. Illinois- 47,623

Michigan actually comes in the top ten, with a count of about 46,350.

My grandfather emigrated from Ukraine to the United States in 1950.

Between the World Wars, when the Holodomor took place, Ukrainians in the U.S. sent aid to their countrymen, but it was refused by the Soviet Government. Another wave of executions in Ukraine and other parts of the Soviet Union was carried out in 1937-38 by Stalin. However, during the period between the World Wars, immigration as a whole was restricted by the ''Red Scare,'' isolationism, and largely by the quota system. An estimated figure of between 20,000 to 40,000 Ukrainians arrived in the U.S. during the interwar time.

In 1948, the US Congress passed the Displaced Persons Act, permitting hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians to come to the United States. According to many sources, this was during the third major “wave” of emigration. At the end of World War II, there were about 4 million Ukrainian displaced persons in Europe. Some were ex-prisoners of War from the Soviet Army, some were actual survivors of Nazi Concentration Camps, but the vast majority were those forcibly taken from their homeland to Austria and Germany as laborers during the War. Most of these immigrants settled in major cities on the Atlantic seaboard and in the Midwest.

My grandparents settled and raised their family in Northern New Jersey. Growing up, I experienced Ukrainian Orthodox Church and Ukrainian holiday traditions. My grandfather and his sisters became part of a closelyknit Ukrainian community, so I decided to research some of the organizations in the area.

The Ukrainian American Cultural Center of New Jersey is located in northern New Jersey. The Cultural Center’s purpose is to provide facilities for the preservation of Ukrainian heritage and culture, and to promote and conduct educational and social programs for persons of Ukrainian descent and for the community at large. The facility is needed to support many Ukrainian organizations, groups and activities including Saturday morning language and heritage classes, youth and adult religious education, youth organizations and scouting groups, dancing groups and music programs, senior citizen programs, youth sports club activities, etc.

Another interesting place I found is the New Ukrainian School. The New Ukrainian School is dedicated to teaching the Ukrainian language, history, culture and religion to students ranging from kindergarten through twelfth grade. According to its website, the mission of the New Ukrainian School is “to promote, support, conduct and maintain educational programs, especially for, but not limited to, American youth of Ukrainian descent. The focus is on the rich cultural heritage of the Ukrainian people.”

I find it interesting that there remains such a rich tradition and desire to continue Ukrainian culture even in today’s world. However, I was not extremely surprised to find all of these resources. My grandparents continue to participate in a large community of Ukrainian Americans. I have always enjoyed being able to attend traditional holiday services at a Ukrainian Orthodox Church. My parents were even married in a “traditional” Ukrainian wedding. I think it’s extremely important to learn about one’s heritage, and I hope that I can pass it along to my own children. Though America is often referred to as a "melting pot", I enjoy the fact that I can experience communities in which the culture of the residents' homeland is vibrant and thriving.

*This is my third post, to make-up for missing the field trip



After Svitlana introduced this topic in class, I thought it was important that we each got a better understanding of exactly what happened and the toll that it took on Ukraine and its people. In short, Stalin issued a grain quota increase of approximately 44%. This left the Ukraine peasantry with no food for themselves, causing the death of about 7-10 million Ukrainians. This "famine" is referred to as artificial because there was no need for a quota increase, for the grain was merely collected and stored in huge grain elevators that were guarded by Soviet military. Instead, Stalin's main objective was to break the cultural renaissance of the Ukrainian people, for he saw it as a threat to the success of Communism. Two main reasons that were given for why Stalin and the Kremlin instigated this famine were: 1. Ukrainians opposed collectivization and 2. Ukrainians were becoming culturally independent. Both of these reasons posed a threat to Communism. One group in particular stood out as a potential threat in Stalin's mind. The Communist party refered to them as the Kulaks. These people were the wealthy independent farmers who owned either a land mass of over 24 acres or who employed workers of their own. To exterminate these people, Stalin sent an approximated number of 10 million of them to Siberia by railroad box cars. In all, about 1/3 of these people died after the brutal winter and starvation. It was odd to discover, however, that these people (Kulaks) only contributed to about 5% of the peasant population. My question, after reading various literature about the famine, is: What kind of propaganda techniques were employed for people to carry out the famine?

One technique was to send young Communist activists to country regions to hype up support for the Soviet regime. Another depiction of the ideal Communist Party consisted of greater than life images of Stalin. In my opinion, this either made Stalin appear as someone to admire because you were forced to look up to him or as someone to fear because he was larger than life. Another form of propaganda was the denial of a famine by the Soviet regime. This included resistance of any foreign help in the form of food shipments. Also, anyone found using the words "famine", "hunger", or "starvation" could be arrested, since the famine did not exist in the eyes of the Soviet regime. The most prominent form of propaganda was the attack against the Kulaks. They were characterized as being as equally dangerous as an invading foreign enemy.

I end in leaving a quote, that describes the torture that was inflicted to not only adult men and women, but children as well:

"The most terrifying sights were the little children with skeleton limbs dangling from balloon-like abdomens. Starvation had wiped every trace of youth from their faces, turning them into tortured gargoyles; only in their eyes still lingered the reminder of childhood. Everywhere we found men and women lying prone (weak from hunger), their faces and bellies bloated, their
eyes utterly expressionless." --Victor Kravchenko, Soviet official who escaped from the USSR Embassy in the United States

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I took particular interest in researching Lesia Ukrainka and her role in perpetuating the Ukrainian Renaissance when the nation was so distinctly divided between the Russian and Austrian territories, as we discussed in class on Monday.  Not only was she immensely talented, but she also represents strength as a Ukrainian citizen in a differing way than did the Cossacks.  She was a brilliant writer, politically involved, and she accomplished all of this while suffering from tuberculosis.
Lesia Ukrainka was one of Ukraine's most renowned poets and the leading woman writer in Ukrainian literature.  Her mother, Olha Drahomanova-Kosach, was a Ukrainian writer and publisher, and her father, Petro Antonovych, was remarkably involved in advancing Ukrainian culture and was vastly invested in the Ukrainian publishing ventures.  Contrary to what was custom at the time, Ukrainka's family enforced only Ukrainian language in their home and even hired tutors in an effort to circumvent the schools that taught Russian as the primary language.  Her family was very much involved in Ukrainian identity and the resistance of Russian influence.  She first became involved in writing when she was eight years old when she wrote her first poem entitled "Hope." It was written in reflection of a family member who was arrested and exiled for participating in a political movement.  When she was thirteen, her poem, "Lily of the Valley" was published in a journal in Lviv.  After that, her career as a writer and political activist took off.  In 1893, her first collection of poetry was published in Western Ukraine because the Russian Empire banned Ukrainian publications.  Her works were smuggled into Kiev.   While she loved to experience other cultures, her most famous pieces were reflective of Ukrainian history, mythology, and folklore.  
I found her to be a very interesting figure in Ukrainian history because she took such bold strides in the struggle against the Russian oppressors and has clearly made an impact in Ukrainian culture.  She represents strength to people everywhere, especially women, and also provides a great example of a role model for people who may be in need of inspiration to fight against an oppressive body.  


Hryhorii Skovorda

Upon hearing of Skovoroda in class, I became intrigued. A few idiosyncratic images come to mind. First the romantic traveling artist--such as Lesya Ukrainka or others. Yet also present is more of an Eastern "holy man" image, such as a wandering Buddhist Monk in India. These are obviously stereotypes. Another stereotype is that concerning philosophers, as atheistic, humanistic critics accepting neither faith or science. Obviously Skovoroda is no stereotype. So what and who is he?

He was born to a Cossack family (1722), although whether rich or poor is not clear. For example, links [1] and [2] below have contradictory information on this point. As mentioned in class, he attended the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, although he never completed a full program. He also left the Academy on two occasions for travels and other things. In 1769, he abandoned formal teaching and began wandering the country side.

An interesting note, he refused to let his philosophical writings be published, calling them his children. He'd often give his writings to friends as gifts, instructing them to take care of them and keep them in their house. See more about this at link [2]. In a culture clamoring to fit into the Russian aristocracy seek worldly honor and riches (the Cossack Hetmanite being slowly dismantled during his lifetime), Skovoroda refused to be a worldly-type philosopher. More on this in link [2], with interesting stories concerning Cathrine the Great and a General Shcherbinin.

In his writings, he is critical of the Church, but deeply religious. Soviet realism made him into a pantheist, believing God is nature, but this biased by Soviet objectives. For instance, the following quote from link [3]:

"To Skovoroda, God reveals Himself to men in three ways: the material world into which we are born; Man himself, or the microcosm which reflects the macrocosm; and the symbolic world of the Bible, which gives us the possibility to understand the eternal God. The material world is meaningless without one's intimate connection with the divine. Man has to use his cognitive powers to understand the macrocosm and its Creator."

This is comparable with a 1965 U.S. thesis by Taras Zakydalsky at Bryn Mawr Collage (link [4]), particularly note the first paragraphs of the Metaphysics chapter. Here is a direct quote from Skovoroda on these three aspects, calling them three worlds.

In all, I find Skovoroda a refreshing individual: a man who had both deep faith in God, and yet was willing to address philosophical issues; a seeker of truth not limited to usual physical experience. He was critical of the church(es) he was familiar with, as they did not seem to fit his ideas of truth, yet not abandoning God because of these church(es).

Personally, am a scientist and also very religious. I believe both these aspects of my life involve seeking and learning truth. I am encouraged to see another truth seeker with both aspects. Was he successful? That remains for each individual to decide.



Monday, April 7, 2008


Figure 1: An aerial view of the Chornobyl Power Plant after the meltdown.

In April 26, 1986 there was a massive explosion in one of the reactors at the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant. This explosion caused several more to follow, which set in to motion the largest nuclear meltdown in history. Massive clouds of smoke carrying radioactive fallout carried dangerous debris all over Europe, and even as far as North America. As a result, almost 400,000 thousands residents were forced to relocate. 56 individuals were killed directly by the accident, but today World Health Organization estimates that nearly 4,000 people have died as a result of cancer brought on by exposure to radiation, and that 600,000 individuals have experienced high exposure to radiation.

Most experts blame the meltdown on a poorly designed reactor and personnel who were not properly trained. As a result of Cold War isolation there was little regard for safety, so workers did not receive sufficient education and preparation. The accident itself occurred during a test to see how long turbines would spin after loosing the loss of main electrical power supply. It was known that the reactors were unstable at a low power setting, but the personnel at the plant chose to run the test regardless. During the test, when they attempted to shut down one the reactors there was an enormous power surge, because the reactor was in such a volatile state, and this led to the initial explosion which initiated the meltdown.

When the meltdown first occurred officials failed to warn residents that a meltdown occurred, it was not until radiation levels increased dramatically in Sweden that anyone was notified. When the government finally issued a warning, they gave the impression that the damage was minimal and localized. It was not until almost two days later that the entire surrounding area was evacuated when citizens were notified about the severity of the accident. Originally citizens were told to expect to their homes in three days, as a result many of the still abandoned homes still contain many of the personal items of their former occupants.

Livadia Palace: Road 3

Livadia Palace was the summer retreat for the last Russian Czar, Nicholas II and his family, in the city of Livadiya, Crimea in beautiful southern Ukraine. The architecture of the palace was built in white Crimean granite in the Neo-Renaissance style. The palace features an arched porch made out of marble, two enormous patios, a Florentine tower, large elaborate windows, a balcony, and is beautifully decorated with an art gallery. The palace consists of 116 rooms which are furnished and designed in different styles.

After being used as a summer home for the Russian Czar, Livadia Palace was used to hold the Yalta Conference in 1945. The Yalta Conference was a very important wartime conference where the leaders of the United States, England, and Russia, (Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin respectively) met to discuss on what to do with post-war Germany. 

Today, the palace houses a museum and is a major tourist attraction, but is also sometimes used by the Ukrainian authorities for international summits. The amazing architecture, location, and awe inspiring appeal makes Livadia Palace a perfect location for these summits. 

*This is a short clip and panoramic view of the front side of Livadia Palace. It is easy to notice the extreme beauty of this wonderful structure. It is most definitely fit for a Czar and his family. 

Slavic Pagan Gods and Beliefs

Slavic Paganism is an oral tradition that began over 3000 years ago, and was influenced by the Greek mythologies of the time. Unlike the Greek mythologies however, there was a main god Perun, the thunder god, who was worshipped above all, but there were many sub-gods or followers as well. Veles is one of these followers, though he is normally associated with the Devil. Going along with this theme, there are a few evil gods, such as Marowit who is the god of nightmares, and Berstuk the evil god of the forest. Other gods are seen as good, or neutral, to explain nature and other aspects of human life. These include Dazhbog the sun god, Juthrbog the moon god, and many many others applicable to almost ever aspect of life.
What is extremely interesting to me is the neutrality those who follow these traditions take when dealing with religion, or gods in general. There is a Ukrainian proverb that tells the story of an old woman going into a church and lighting two candles, one for God and one for the Devil. When questioned about why she did this, she replies that she is old, and it is nice to have friends on both sides. This duality of pleasing God, but not angering the Devil is something totally foreign to me, perhaps a result of my western catholic upbringing. It is very fascinating to see a different perspective of the afterlife.
While a deep part of Kievan Rus traditon, pagan superstitions and rituals still exist even today. There is evena neo-pagan movement in Ukraine today, and these people are called the Ridna Vira in Ukrainian.

This is a picture of Perun fighting Veles.

For more info:

Swallow's Nest Castle: Road 3

The Swallow's nest castle is one of the most beautiful and romantic castles in the Europe and is one of the biggest attractions in Crimea. The castle was originally built in from 1911-1912 by Russian architect Leonid Sherwood. The castle sits on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Ai-Todor Cape near the Black Sea. 

It was first built for a Russian General around 1895. The first structure was actually a wooden cottage romantically named "The Love Castle." Later, ownership passed to a court doctor of the Russian Tsar named A.K. Tobin. In 1911, Baron Von Steinheil acquired the wooden cottage and built on top of it what stands today. The castle itself sits 130 feet above the water below. 

In 1927, Swallow's Nest survived a magnitude 6 to 7 earthquake and was closed to the public for nearly 40 years due to a massive crack that developed on the cliff itself. In 1968, renovations began and it was re-opened to the public in 1975 and houses a fine Italian restaurant inside. 

The castle itself has been in numerous films including Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. 

Kobza to Bandura

In last lecture, we briefly studied about Kobza and Bandura, Ukrainian traditional lute/guitar-like instruments, and how Kobza was played by blind man mostly. Well, I wanted to find out more information about each instruments and differences in their sound.

A quick historical background information about Kobza:
Kobza existed from the sixth century, brought there by Bulgars or by Polovetsians and Khazars (not exactly sure). Some source says that it was brought into Ukraine by wandering Arab scholars in the 10-11th century. It was very popular during the 16th century in Cossack state with the advent of the Hetmanate. The term Kobza later became a synonym for the bandura (newer instrument with more strings) and in the 20th century, it became extinct. However, there is a strong revival of Kobza playing in Ukraine these days, especially in Kyiv and Kharkiv. Kobza is made of a single piece of wod and consisted of a soundboard and 3-8 stings strung across it.

I found a video in Youtube of a Kobzar:

Bandura is differ from Kobza in that it has 32-55 strings and each note is played in different strings. During the 17th and 18th century the bandura was very popular among the common people and by the 18th century the bandura displaced the kobza, and both names are now used synonymously.

Here is a video of an Ukrainian woman singing and playing Bandura (Youtube):

Personally, I hear their sounds to be very distinct and different. As a musician, I hear the sound of Bandura resembles more of a sound of harpsichord or a harp instead of a lute or a Kobza which are fretted (playing more than one note on a string). Both bring out the soul of Ukrainian musicians very well though. I hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about Ukrainian Music as I have~

The Beauty of Odesa: Road 2

Odesa is a beautiful city located in the Odesa Oblast of the Ukraine. The city was originally founded as a naval fortress in 1793 on territory annexed from Turkey. Odesa is known for it's beautiful landscape as well as its architecture. The city itself is a mixture of ancient Greek themed styles with modern art deco. One of the most beautiful buildings in Odesa is the Odesa Opera House: It was first opened 1810 and destroyed in a fire in 1873. The modern building was constructed by Fellner and Helmer in baroque style and opened in 1867. The luxurious hall follows rococo style. Its unique acoustics allow it to deliver a whisper from the stage to any part of the hall. 
  The theater was the first building to use electric illumination and employed Edison Ele
ctricity to do so. The opera house itself sits on shifting ground and is in danger of collapse. The first cracks appeared almost immediately after its construction. The theaters eastern half sagged almost seven inches in its first 3 years and the six walls began to tilt. Gleb Dranov, who sang at the opera house for 25 years, worked 5 years previously as a geologist and is helping oversee the repairs and stability construction. Here is a wonderful video of the Opera House at Night:

Interesting article on renovations to Ukraine's historic wooden churches

The Chicago Tribune suggests that efforts to improve or modernize Ukraine's wooden churches is in fact destroying them:

When Ukraine gained its independence, villagers embraced the return of religious freedom, but many viewed their wooden churches as eyesores—rickety, difficult to maintain and ripe for renovation or demolition.

"People stopped feeling that all of these churches have value—not material value, but spiritual or emotional value," Salyuk said. "Now, many people look at churches not as sacred buildings, but as houses which need to be rebuilt or renovated."

In many cases, those renovations make preservationists shudder. In the village of Stary Yar, 24 miles northwest of Lviv, a makeover of the 450-year-old Our Blessed Virgin of Pokrova, a Ukrainian Greek Catholic church, amounted to nailing tin plating painted yellow onto the wooden exterior. Inside, walls that had been covered with centuries-old paintings have been concealed behind particle board amateurishly decorated by a village artist.

"You can see this church is almost totally covered with metal, which makes it look like a submarine," said Rev. Stepan Kobasyar, whose diocese includes Stary Yar. "I can encourage the priest here and the parishioners to take the metal down, but I can't make them do it.

"This is the attitude of people who don't understand the value of a wooden church," he said.
This could be an interesting topic for further exploration. Here's the link in case anyone is interested!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Swallow's Nest Castle

As we saw in class, the Swallow's Nest Castle is a popular landmark of Crimea. Before the castle was built, a small cottage occupied the cliff. It was built for a Russian general in 1895 and was called "The Love Castle". However, in 1911 a German man who had been very successful in the oil business purchased the cottage and within two years built the castle that we can see today. Over the years, the castle passed through many hands and had many different uses. It was a restaurant in 1914, a tourist spot in 1917 , and acted as the meeting place for a reading club in 1930.

The use of the building came to an abrupt halt in 1927. An earthquake judged to be a 6 or 7 on the Richter scale led to a large crack in the cliff the castle lies on. Renovation did not begin until 1968, and a majority of the work involved inserting a concrete plate to strengthen the cliff. It opened as an Italian restaurant in 1975 and still serves the tourists coming through.

Finally, there are many legends that come along with the castle. One of the funnier ones I found involves a young man in love who is rejected by his mistress. "Apparently", to win the girl's heart he continually rode a horse up to the cliff and then jumped off falling all the way to the sea. He always survived, and therefore that implies that his "infinite love and the magic/power of the castle" made him lucky enough to continually jump off the cliff. Below is a video of a tourist taking in the view:

Korovai: Ukrainian wedding cakes (or more accurately, breads)

As Svitlana knows, I have a minor obsession with baking, and I've been curious about Ukrainian korovai for awhile now. I decided to take this opportunity to find out a little more about this ancient Slavic tradition.

Korovai are intricately designed breads that are baked for and historically have been served at Ukrainian weddings. These days, a simple bread (and perhaps a more modern, Western-style cake) may be served to the happy couple and their guests, and the korovai may be mostly for display purposes. Some couples go so far as to dry out and/or varnish their korovai so that they can display them around their houses for years to come.

As you can see from the photo, korovaii have incredible detail and display many of the same symbols found on the similarly intricate pysanky. The bread itself is made of wheat, and the wreath wrapped around it is typically made of periwinkle, a symbol of love and purity. The bread may also be adorned with berries, flowers, and ribbons. However, what's perhaps most impressive about a korovai are the carefully crafted bread figures that adorn it. Doves represent the couple, and the 'tree of life' in the center of the cake symbolizes the newlyweds' building a nest, in this case, home and and family, together. Other prominent symbols include suns, moons, flags, flowers, and elaborate braiding.

The baking of korovai is perhaps as interesting as the finished result. In the past, an odd number of women (in Eastern Slavic cultures, odd numbers are luckier than even ones, and you shouldn't offer a bouquet containing an even number of flowers unless at a funeral), usually seven, would gather to make the korovai. These korovainytsy would provide the ingredients needed to make the bread: seven eggs, seven cups of flour, water from seven different wells, etc. They'd make the bread together, singing traditional songs that accompanied each step of the baking process.

Ultimately, the korovai is symbolic not only of a new couple united, but a new couple welcomed into a community.

Massandra Winery

Another attraction in the tourist town of Yalta, the Massandra Winery has a fascinating history. The unique collection which includes bottles which are more than 150-200 years of age is hidden in the tunnels within Crimean mountains. I chose to research it because it demonstrates how history has perpetrated Ukrainian culture and is still extremely relevant.

The Massandra winery was built in the 19th century to supply the needs of the Tsars' court. Every year during the Russian winter, the Tsars took the imperial family to their summer palace in Yalta where they relaxed away from the pressures of power and entertained guests on the shores of the Black Sea. (Much like people do today!) Wine was an integral part of their daily lives, as they held extravagant parties, celebrated communion in the imperial chapel and sometimes dined as a family.

In 1894, Tsar Nicholas II decided to build his own winery there. It was an enormous undertaking. Work on the cellars took three years as miners dug deep into the mountainside to create a labyrinth of 21 tunnels that to this day rank among the finest cellars in the world. The cellars are also exceptionally solid and strong - when violent earthquakes caused widespread damage in the region in 1920, the cellars of Massandra were completely unscathed.

While I was researching the winery, I found an article about a 2004 event by Sotheby’s of London in which the bottles of wine from the Massandra Winery were being auctioned. The bottles, bearing the imperial seal, had survived both the Communist revolution and Nazi invasion! Money from the sales invested by into the preservation of the winery.

When the area was engaged in civil war after the 1917 the wine collection was placed under special defense. To protect the Tsar's wine from looters it was bricked up in tunnels built in the 1890s by an army of laborers who burrowed deep into a hillside to create some of the world's finest and coolest wine cellars. More than twenty years later, when the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, the entire collection was packed up and taken to three secret locations. Only that year's vintage, which was still in vats, could not be saved and Massandra's director ordered that it be poured into the Black Sea.

Today, the Massandra Winery claims to hold the biggest wine collection in the world. Besides history and process of wine making, tourists have an opportunity to join wine tasting in the halls of Massandra Winery.

The Massandra Winery was fascinating to me because it represents a cultural connection between historical figures and today’s generation of Yalta tourists. Also, I was interested to learn about a different facat of Ukrainian culture. Normally, I wouldn't associate Ukrainians with having exceptional taste in wine, yet the experts' interest in the wine auctions has certainly changed my perception.

Livadia Palace

As mentioned in class, Livadia Palace was the summer home of the last Russian Tsars and Nikolai II. I was interested in finding out more about this historic building and what it has been used for throughout the years.

Livadia Palace originally belonged to the Potocki family, an aristocratic Polish family. In the 1860s a large palace, a small palace, and a church were built there, and Livadia became a summer residence for the Russian Imperial family. Both Alexander II and Alexander III spent great deals of time at the palace, and Alexander III died in the smaller palace. In 1909 Nicholas II, Alexander III's son, had the two palaces torn down and a new larger palace was constructed on the site. On September 11, 1911 the Livadia Palace that still stands today was inaugurated.

Since Nikolai II's stays at Livadia, the palace has been utilized in numerous ways. As mentioned in class, in 1925 the first sanatorium for peasants was opened in Livadia Palace. Also mentioned in class, in 1945 the Yalta Conference was held at Livadia Palace. Today Livadia Palace is a museum with most of its historical artifacts lost or destroyed throughout the years. The palace has also served as a location for international summits by Ukrainian authorities.

The Palace, which is built in a Neo-Renaissance style, has over 116 rooms and numerous patios and towers, all of which are built in a variety of styles. The interiors of the rooms also vary in style - from Pompeian to English-inspired rooms, the palace offers a variety of architectural influences. Sofia Rotaru, a Ukrainian female singer, announced in 2008 that she will oversee the reconstruction of Livadia Palace. Rotaru is the first female singer to be awarded the People's Artist of the USSR and celebrated her 60th anniversary at Livadia Palace.

What I found most interesting about the information I found regarding Livadia Palace is that the original two palaces were torn down and a larger palace was built to replace them. I read that Nicholas II tore down the two original palaces after his father died there. I'm not sure what the relationship was between Alexander III and Nicholas II, but I would guess that this might have something to do with why Nicholas II had a new palace built.

Below are some links to videos taken in and around Livadia Palace. The architecture is phenomenal.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Crimean Tatar Traditional Arts

As you may remember from class, the Crimean Tatars are currently a small minority in Crimea (~6% of the population), but their group used to dominate the region. They were forced to leave in 1944 because Stalin believed that they had cooperated with the German forces. 50 years later, they have begun to return to their homeland. There has been a recent growth in Crimean Tatar non-governmental organizations (NGOs), some of which are trying to promote Crimean traditions.

I was interested in finding out about the Crimean Tatar traditions, especially artistic ones, since they weren't covered in class. To me, artwork is a powerful way of representing a culture's richness, history, and ideology. The revival of Crimean Tatar traditions, especially in the arts, will give future Crimean Tatars something to be proud of, something to show off when someone asks them about their history/ancestors.

Tatar Clothing

The people depicted in this picture are wearing traditional outfits. Women traditionally wear a long dress, while men wear baggy pants (Shalvar) and cloaks. The white scarf on the woman and black headgear on the man in the middle (called "kalpak") are traditional headgear.

Tatar Decorative Arts - Embroidery

(picture of women's headdress)
There are many beautiful objects that you should look at
here. Most interesting, to me, is the embroidery in gold thread that adorns most objects. There has been a project started by Ayshe Osmanova, to teach Crimean Tatar women how to do this type of embroidery, an art that had almost disappeared. According to her, traditional embroidery motifs are simple. For example:

"One common ornament is the 'nar,' which translates as the fruit 'pomegranate.' The nar has a grain inside that is sweet. This design is embroidered almost on all ornaments, whether they are for men, women or children. It's like a talisman and is closely linked to the family. The grain itself refers to the people in the family, which should be healthy and harmonious. The design is divided into squares to refer to the house where they all live. " (see first link below)

Tatar Architecture
Tatar architecture shows clear Islamic influence. A following buildings below show off Crimean Tatar architecture. (All information from the Crimean Tatar Architecture link = link #4)

Özbek Han Mosque
Eski Kirim (Stariy Qrim), Crimea
This is the oldest Islamic building in Crimea, located in a city known as Solhat (former capital of Crimean Khans until early 16th century). It has similar architectural features to mosques in Anatolia during the Seljuk period with its square floor plan and monumental entrance with a carved wooder door. A Medrese (Islamic school) used to be next to the southern wall of this mosque, which remains can be seen from the rear of the mosque.

Palace of the Khans (Han Saray)
Bahçesaray (Bakhchisarai), Crimea
Bahçesaray was the capital of the Crimean Khanate from the early 16th century until Russian annexation in 1783. Built by Mengli Giray in the early 16th century, this palace was the residence and administrative center of the Crimean Khanate. The palace has the "State Council's Hall (Divan), reception halls, administrative and service quarters, guest rooms, the Harem, gardens, a mosque, a private chapel (mescit), and a cemetery for the Giray family" (see fourth link below). The Palace was rebuilt after the 1736 Russian attack on the city, so most of the structures are from 1737-1743. The oldest part is the Iron Gate, designed by an Italian architect in Renaissance style. The Fountain of Tears is located within an enclosed courtyard outside of the Council's Hall. After Russian annexation, the building was renovated by architects and artisans who weren't familiar with Islamic art and architecture, so today there is a great interest in restoring the palace to its original state.

Khan Mosque (Han Camii)
Gözleve or Kezlev (Yevpatoria), Crimea
As one of the few Tatar buildings that survived Russian domination, this building from the 1550s was designed by Ottoman architect Sinan and modeled after the original Fatih Mosque of Istanbul. It has one central dome, one half-dome, and three smaller domes to each side. The entrance is a wooden door on the north side. The front facade is an arcade with five smaller domes. In the 1980s, the Russians used it as a museum of archaeology, but the Tatars reclaimed it in 1990. The structure has gone through extensive renovation and restoration in order to it into a mosque again.

Ukraine: Tatar Women Rediscover Their Roots
Crimean Tatar NGOs
Crimean Tatars - most of info and all pictures from this site
Crimean Tatar Architecture