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A touch of Ukraine. Newton woman shares native country with museum
11 January 2017, 16:39 | Society-digest | 0 | | Code for Blog | |
Jamee A. Pierson
The Newton community is rich with many cultures and after working for more than a year, Mariya Dovganyuk shared her’s at her own Ukrainian museum. Filled with hundreds of items brought from her native land, Dovganyuk radiated pride as she explained her country’s many centuries of history and culture through the government, work and home life and the arts.
“I decided to do my Ukrainian room because I have so many things, and I need to put them together,” Dovganyuk said “We have been talking about this for three years ... this year I said, I will be 60 years old, you need to do this for my birthday, this is my present, and we did.”
Dovganyuk moved to the United States in 2005 and brought with her decades worth of knowledge and artifacts from Ukraine. After a lot of hard work by her and her family, Mariya’s Ukrainian Museum is open for interested community members to learn about the history of a country across the world.
Located in her basement, she leads the tour in authentic Ukrainian clothing. She begins where many Ukrainian men would end their day by taking their hats off before coming in the house. Displayed in the stairway are three varieties of hats used for formal attire, in the military and while they are at work.
She shows guests a variety of maps detailing the history of Ukraine dating back hundreds of years to present day Ukraine.
“Kieven Rus was the second biggest country in Europe,” Dovganyuk said. “In 11th century, we have a library in our capital and we also had a lot of schools where kids could read and write. They were very educated.”
Artifacts including cooking pots and figures show how Ukrainians lived, cooked and worked.
“They cooked food here (wood stove). It is made from bricks or stones. They burn wood and charcoals spread in the sides,” Dovganyuk said. “They put their food in special clay pots and food tastes really good.”
Another figure showed how citizens would travel across the continent for work to provide a life for their families.
“We’re in the middle of Ukraine, and they would go down to Crimea to get the salt then they would go to Europe to sell it and make some money, then they would go back to Crimea, get salt and go home,” Dovganyuk said.
Covering the walls were many pieces of art along with portraits of the artists responsible for them. Featured was artist Taras Chevchenko, who worked to preserve the Ukrainian culture while the area was under Russian rule.
“When Ukrainian land was under Russia we were not able to speak Ukrainian and we were not able to write, everything was in Russian,” Dovganyuk said. “Chevchenko was a slave writing in Ukrainian and he was very talented. When he and his owner moved to St. Petersburg, when he didn’t work he would run to the park and paint. Some famous people saw him and saw he was very talented and they decided to buy him and send him to school.”
Another famous artist, Kateryna Bilokur, was a self-taught mater of primitive art and decorative fold painting who caught the eye of notable artist including Pablo Picasso. Her art included flowers and fruits in gardens, orchards, fields; still life; and several portraits and self-portraits. Her paintings display originality, vivid coloring and great attention to detail.
“She never went to school, it is not what she did everyday, it was just between doing things,” Dovganyuk said.
Like most countries, Ukraine has a variety of traditions, many connected to major holidays. Dovganyuk shared two featured at Christmas and Easter time.
Every year, a large Christmas tree is set up on Independence Square, but due to the protest in Dec. 2013, the tree became a barricaded area that citizens then draped with flags to create their own tree. Dovganyuk has a replica tree which was created by Volodymyr Sukhinin, an Iowa State University student who is originally from Donetsk in Ukraine.
Another tradition are pysank, or the Ukrainian Easter egg. The word “pysanka” comes from the verb pystay, “to write,” as the designs are not painted on but written with beeswax.
In family life, Dovganyuk shared how she grew up making her own toys and sewing, in preparation to marry some day.
“I remember when I was a child we didn’t have toys to play with. We would make dolls with yarn and from fabric,” Dovganyuk said.
The dolls, called Ukrainian Reeled dolls are thought to be guardian of the house, a symbol of wisdom and connection between generations. It is believed to protect the house, bring good luck and prosperity to families.
Another tradition is for the girls to begin working on sewing pieces to place in a trunk to bring to their future husband when they get married.
“Usually a girl, before she married, she would cross stitch and would put it in her chest and when she was married she would bring to her husband,” Dovganyuk said.
“If you look in the chest if the stuff inside is pretty then you know she will be a good wife but if it isn’t then she might not be as good,” Sveta Miller, Dovganyuk’s daughter, added.
Also in the collection is a variety of clothing pieces, photos from their home city, art and history books and many pieces of art and life from Ukraine. To complete the experience, Dovganyuk provided authentic dishes from Ukraine including Nalesniki, a crepe with farmers cheese and raisins, Kampot, a homemade fruit drink and Varenyky, dumplings with potatoes and chicken.
The museum does not have regular hours but is open by appointment to those interested seeing and learning about the Ukrainian culture. For more information call 641-521-7145 or visit her Facebook page Mariya’s Ukrainian Room.
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