Opening February 15
Rushnyky: Sacred Ukrainian Textiles
February 15 – June 3, 2018
Rushnyky: Sacred Ukrainian Textiles celebrates and explores Ukrainian culture through one of its most ancient and valued traditions.
A rushnyk is a long, rectangular cloth, typically made from linen or hemp, which is woven in one solid piece and sometimes adorned with bright, intricate patterns. They are traditionally made by women, who start learning to spin, weave, and embroider the cloths at a very young age. Today most rushnyky are machine made using modern materials, and can be purchased in retail establishments.
Rushnyky have many uses. The most basic type, colloquially called an utyralnyk or wiper, serves as a towel. In contrast, a nabozhnyk, also called nabraznyk or nakutnyk, is a highly decorated rushnyk comprising embroidery and lace that decorate icons and icon corners in homes. Rushnyky are ritual objects used in ceremonies from birth to death. Newborns are immediately laid on a rushnyk; intricate wedding formalities utilize several rushnyky; coffins are sometimes lowered into the ground with rushnyky.
Rushnyky are steeped in tradition and faith. The shape of the cloth represents life’s journey; the ornamentation captures the cultural and ancestral memory of the region; they are believed to be a median between the secular and the divine. The process of spinning thread and weaving linen embodies spiritual power reflecting the ancient deity Mokosh, often represented in embroidery. The needle has its own energy (similar to the chi of acupuncture), and the color of the thread has sacred meaning. Red represents life and is the main color used.
This exhibit of over 80 rushnyky, Ukrainian icons, and related artifacts comes from the collection of Franklin Sciacca, Associate Professor of Russian Language and Literature at Hamilton College
THE EDWARD AND JOAN SIMPSON COLLECTION
Now through June 17, 2018
The recent donation of an exceptional collection of 18th and 19th century Russian icons and sacred artifact from Boston area collectors Edward and Joan Simpson is the largest and most valuable single gift since founder Gordon B. Lankton established the Museum of Russian Icons in 2006. The gift fills in some of the missing pieces in the chronological history of the Russian icon in the collection, bringing the Museum closer to being an encyclopedic collection tracing the entire arc of the development of the sacred arts in Orthodox Russia. In celebration of this historic milestone, the Museum has created a special exhibition of twenty-four icons in the Auditorium Gallery.
(At left: Pure Soul, 19th c.)