PEOPLE IN HUNYA
When implementing the Cultural Route project - "The Hunya Road", we talked to several people who bought these wonderful pieces of folk craft in the village of Richka.
People of different professions and ages became our champions in the project, communicating their attitude to traditional clothing, crafts, and cultural heritage of the Ukrainian Carpathians to the public.
Volodymyr Hutsul, a historian from Uzhhorod, a connoisseur of Carpathian region traditions and an avid traveller, was our first spokesperson.
"I bought my hunya twenty years ago, and since then it has been my constant companion in mountain travels." – says Volodymyr.
He recalls the properties of hunya with admiration, as it repeatedly protected him from bad weather in the mountains: "This is an extremely functional item. If you put a backpack on it, your back does not get wet under hunya. It will cover you from rain. But the most cosy feeling is when you get yourself covered with hunya and fall asleep near the bonfire. The hiking life then looks fantastically beautiful."
Alisa Smyrna, another addicted traveller and owner of the famous Bed & Bike bicycle guest house in the village of Dubrynychi in Zakarpattia, shared her experience of using hunya.
"In my mind, hunya is one of the most authentic things in our region. It's a great way to stand out, especially if you work in tourism: hunya is great for costume tours, staged weddings, photo shootings." - says Alisa. For several years, she has been organizing tours in the costume of a postman Fedir Fekete, dressed in a long black “kotsovanya”-hunya.
"I love when things are practical, stylish, and one-of-a-kind. So now I am a proud owner of a black “kotsovanya” made to an order in the village of Richka."
Uzhhorod gardener Valeriy Kokayko is also the owner of hunya made in the village of Richka. He loves to travel in the mountains, is interested in the culture and art of the Carpathian region, traditional farming and local gastronomy.
"For me, hunya is an article that combines fashion, food and architecture of the Carpathians. It is the first thing to protect a person from bad weather, and only afterwards, a highlander would build a wooden hut, a house or church. Hunya is made of sheep’s wool that is a product of farming at polonynas together with cheese, vurda and brynza, which I firmly associate with the taste of cuisine of Zakarpattia. Moreover, it is the hunya that may be an element of clothing that distinguishes the inhabitants of our region in the world ethnic fashion." – says Valeriy.
Tetiana Smriha, the head of the Cublo Art Center in Uzhhorod, told another story about her journey in the world of ancient crafts:
"As a child, I hated history. But wait… at the university too. I can remember tons of unnecessary information. I even know the lyrics of several songs in the languages unknown to me. However, the set of dates, names and places does not stay in my head.
Nevertheless, I love old things, and ancient ones. Apparently, this is my way of touching history, feeling it and realizing the continuity of life.
When I hold my grandfather's glasses in my hands, I remember his smell and that feeling of being next to him. I look at the embroidered shirt I bought from an old woman near the river in Sheshory village, and I imagine what she was thinking or dreaming about. Because as she said, she embroidered the shirt for her wedding and for holidays, and she said that with some bitterness.
I have always dreamed of having a true hunya. But it was somehow too far, too expensive, unattainable and almost impossible. One day my mother heroically set off along a broken road to Richka village, went from one house to another for a long time looking for a hunya of smallest size – as a gift for me.
And here I have it. It is heavy, and smells of wool, and bites through the shirt, and because of this pleasant heaviness you can let your imagination run away with life in the mountains – real, strict and spacious, closer to earth and sky. Where life seems so simple and breathing so free. And hunya so reliably protects from wind and cold.
I may think of people of my family I've never seen, but they also wore hunya. At least some of them did. I can remember when once I saw an old photograph, and among other children in embroidered shirts, I saw myself, an absolutely identical face. I can restore those connections and feel the time passing through my mind – emerges from somewhere in the ancient past, and gets lost at another dimension."