Culture - Ukraine

Public Diplomacy and Culture

Finding solutions together

The story of our Netherlands’ Vyshyvanka is about long-lasting relations between the Netherlands and Ukraine: our  cooperation in many priority sectors of economy, agriculture,  education, culture, human rights, peace and justice. It absorbs our commonalities for the past 29 years of admiration, gratitude, hope and aspiration.

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NL Vyshyvanka: where Dutch design meets Ukrainian tradition 

Jennes de Mol, ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Ukraine. Image: ©NL Embassy in UA.
Vyshyvanka  [wɪʃɪˈwɑnkɐ] is a traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirt. The Vyshyvanka is a tradition, a talisman, a symbol of patriotism and connection of generations. Each stitch carries information and energy, inspires for actions and tells a story.

Jennes de Mol, ambassador: “I enjoyed watching the Vyshyvanka’s on the Ukrainian National Day, just after I arrived. I love the idea of “tradition of innovation and innovation of tradition”. As an ambassador it is my role to constitute a bridge between The Netherlands and Ukraine, and this project brings all these aspects together. I am very happy with the outcome. It symbolizes our appreciation for the beautiful Ukrainian tradition to which we wanted to add a flavor of Dutch innovation. And I am really very pleased with this cross over and will wear this Vyshyvanka with pride.” 

The creation of our Netherlands’ style Vyshyvanka started with a cooperation project between the Dutch designer Emily Hermans and local designer and manufacturer of ethnic clothes Edelvika. What began as a webinar devoted to trends in use of different patterning techniques on textiles, eventually ended up with the development of a unique design of a traditional and yet modern item of clothing.

Embroidery patterns and colours of the Dutch island of Marken, the symbolism of the chosen images and the typical Ukrainian motives and embroidery techniques were harmoniously combined in a coherent picture, complementing each other.

On Vyshyvanka Day, the 21st of May this year, we are proud to share with you the outcome of this inspiring intercultural cooperation project and hope that it will find its special place and meaning in your own Dutch-Ukrainian story.

About Vyshyvanka

Vyshyvankas – traditional embroidered clothes – have always been national symbol, pride and authentic feature of Ukraine. The country is famous throughout the world for its highly artistic embroidery. Every region of Ukraine has its own special Vyshyvanka which is unique in techniques and patters. For example, Hutsuls who lived in Carpathians decorated their shirts with geometric shapes and floral patterns. In Ukrainian embroidery, three colours are basic: black, red, and white. Yellow, blue, and green are supplementary. The Vyshyvanka is used as a talisman to protect the person wearing it and to tell a family story.

The history of the Vyshyvanka  dates back to the 5th century BC, and yet it still has a modern context. The first person to introduce embroidered shirts into modern outfit was Ukrainian author Ivan Frankó. He wore a vyshyvanka under his jacket and combined it with modern attire. Ivan Frankó wearing embroidered an shirt and a jacked is portrayed on the Ukrainian 20 hryvnyas (UAH) bill.

Vyshyvanka Day in Ukraine

Image: ©NL Embassy in UA.
Vyshyvanka Day originated in 2006 and became international day for Ukrainians. It is celebrated on the third Thursday of May. It is intended to unite all Ukrainians over the world, regardless of religion, the language they speak or their place of residence. It is a flash mob holiday: on this day many people wear vyshyvankas to celebrate Ukrainian culture, and patriotism.