Sorochka Exhibit (Embroidered Shirts) (2001)
The shirt or sorochka is probably the most popular and honoured garment of Ukrainian folk attire. Whether for everyday wear or for holidays, it was always embellished with an embroidered or woven design typical of the region. It was worn to work and on holidays, in times of joy and in times of sorrow.
The exhibit presented sorochky from 13 regions of Ukraine, representing approximately 100 years of time. Many of them were brought to Canada by Ukrainian pioneers. These intricately embroidered shirts were displayed in a context of folk customs of the four seasons – Easter in the spring, St. John’s Midsummer Feast (Ivana Kupala) in the summer, the Harvest Feast in the autumn and Christmas in the winter. Also included were three rites of passage – baptism, marriage and burial.
Women adorn their shirts with necklaces of coral and amber beads, often embellished with crosses or coins. In western regions, however, they also wear colourful beadwork necklaces called gerdany.
In Canada the sorochka is still worn during festive occasions such as family Christmas Eve suppers, Easter breakfasts, participation in concerts by choir members, bandura or other instrumental ensembles, recitators, and Ukrainian folk dancers. Embroidering a sorochka is a skill that is passed on to young girls master embroiderers.