Petrykivka Decorative Painting

On Dec 05, 2013, UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage inscribed Ukraine’s Petrykivka decorative painting on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The people of the village of Petrykivka decorate their living quarters, household belongings and musical instruments with a richly symbolic style of ornamental painting, characterized by fantastic flowers and other natural elements. In folk belief, the paintings protect people from sorrow and evil. Every family has at least one practitioner and the tradition is taught at all levels in the local schools, making Petrykivka painting an integral part of daily existence in the community.

Petrykivka (Ukrainian: Петриківка) is an urban-type settlement in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast (province) in east-central Ukraine. There are about five thousand inhabitants. It is famous as a folk art centre and for its unique style of decorative painting.

According to legend, the settlement was founded by the Cossack Petryk, who gathered under his protection the serfs from the local villages.

Petrykivka was first mentioned in historical documents in 1772, when the residents of neighbouring Kurylivka village asked Koshovyi Otaman Petro Kalnyshevsky to move their Orthodox Chapel to a safer place because of flooding. According to that request, the wooden church was moved to Petrykivka.

Early decorative paintings in Petrykivka were mostly murals on the walls of the peasants’ houses rather than easel paintings. The folk poetic interpretation of the surrounding world was and is at the basis of the Petrykivka paintings. Stylized flowers and guilder-rose are among the most popular motifs of the murals with even regular thistles and other weeds featuring rather prominently in the paintings. Murals decorated not only the walls of the houses, both inside and outside, but also the walls of barns and sheds, thus creating a decorative ensemble within individual households.

In all likelihood, for a considerable length of time, paintings decorated only the walls before they began to be done on other materials — paper, wood panels or canvas. Mineral pigments were used for making paints and instead of brushes short lengths of reed stocks, twigs or even fingers were used to apply the paint onto the primed walls, the primer mostly being a thin layer of clay. Egg-based paints were used in later times to do paintings on paper. Three colors were predominant — red, yellow (or yellow-green), and dark blue.

It would be wrong to assume that it was only in the village of Petrykivka that such painting flourished — decorative paintings of a very similar style could — and still can — be found in many other villages of Ukraine. The local styles differ in certain details but they all preserve a number of basic elements and features that makes it possible to recognize them as belonging to one and the same basic style, which was given the name of Petrykivka painting.

Petrykivka decorative painting as a phenomenon of the Ukrainian ornamental folk art

More information about Petrykivka decorative painting style can be found here:


Eleven new inscriptions on the Unesco Representative List of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity

Legendary Petrykivka

Petrykivka style of painting and its prominent exponent Tetyana Pata

Permanent Mission of Ukraine to the UNESCO site

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