Unique exhibits always arouse great interest

Amazing exhibition of ancient Belarusian costumes and rushniks hosted by Belarusian Embassy to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

By Anna Gromova

Ancient women’s Belarusian costumes from the late 19th-early 20th century and national rushniks are on show. All are on loan from the Museum of Ancient Belarusian Culture (of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus’ K. Krapiva Institute of Study of Arts, Ethnography and Folklore). They are wonderful examples of Belarusian culture, which should attract attention towards Belarusian history, art and culture.

The show has already aroused great interest, including from representatives of the political elite, business circles and foreign diplomats.

Traditional costume is a vital element of Belarusian ethnic culture, being hand-woven and embroidered, and embellished with hand-made lace. Meanwhile, embroidered rushnik cloths were traditional household items which also had ritual significance, used to mark occasions such as baptisms and weddings. They were often presented as gifts, and were imbued with symbolic protective qualities.

Exhibition of ancient Belarusian costume and rushniks, organised in London, brightly reflects wealth of Belarusian culture, as noted by Vice Mayor of London’s Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Elizabeth Rutherford, on visiting the Belarusian exhibition.

Ms. Rutherford was greatly impressed with the beauty of the ancient costumes of Belarusian women, brought to London by the Museum of Ancient Belarusian Culture. The exhibition primarily showcases married women’s costumes, with just one example of an outfit once worn by an unmarried girl (they were allowed to leave some of their braids showing).

The Director of the Museum of Ancient Belarusian Culture, Boris Lazuko, and candidate of art history Maria Vinnikova tell us that each Belarusian region decorated its outfits uniquely. Costumes from the Starye Dorogi, Malorita, Kobrin, Berezino and Kalinkovichi districts are on show, each hand-made from natural flax and cotton; wool was used only for winter skirts. Ms. Rutherford commented that Britain is also known for its winter woollen skirts.

Ms. Rutherford is keen to learn more about Belarusian culture and the traditions of bygone years and the present day, and hopes that the exhibition in London will be well attended, so that others can also learn from the fascinating display. In fact, many guests praised the exhibits, showing that British people find Belarusian culture intriguing.

The exhibition was accompanied by ancient Belarusian music performed by young musician Alexander Surba, on the Belarusian duda — an instrument which he made himself.

The Museum of Ancient Belarusian Culture is a major cultural research and enlightening centre. In 2001, its collections were recognised as a national scientific treasure.

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