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Tradition of ornamental painting of Bubnivka ceramics

Tradition of ornamental painting of Bubnivka ceramics

Pottery center in the Vinnytsia region

Dishes by Valentyna Zhyvko

Two neighboring villages of Haysyn district in the Vinnytsia region, Bubnivka and Novoselivka, are well known as pottery centers far beyond Ukraine. Honcharivka, the former name of the village of Novoselivka, certifies the old specialization of the people who lived there. These two villages are situated on the two opposite banks of the Sob River that is a  left-bank tributary of the Southern Buh River.

Here, pottery trade has existed since the 17th century. At the order of Count Stanislav Pototsky, the owner of those lands, about 30 potters were brought to these villages from the town of Uman. Arehta Honchar and his son Semen are believed to be the first Bubnivka artisans. However, Andriy Honchar (1823 - 1926) is considered the “Father” of Bubnivka pottery. Being a young man, he escaped from the landowner to Haysyn where Syla Zherdenivsky, the potter of that place, taught him how to make glazed painted pottery. Soon Andriy Honchar returned to Bubnivka to produce ceramics. He used to paint his products only in black, white and green. 

World fame of Bubnivka 

Dish by the Herasymenko brothers from the exhibition of the Museum of Pottery
Dishes by the Herasymenko brothers from the exhibition of the Museum of Pottery

The tradition of the ornamental painting of Bubnivka ceramics has been formed in the middle of 19th century due to the works of such potters as Ahafon Herasymenko and his sons Iakym and Iakiv. People of Bubnivka retell that Agafon, in some steps, made such a dish that a child could fit there. His sons Iakym and Iakiv were the most famous potters in Bubnivka history. They worked all the time together. While one of the brothers was creating the shape of the product on the potter’s wheel, the other painted the ceramics. 

The same way of pottery production was typical for other families too. Men made shapes of pottery and women mostly painted. 

In 1920s, the pottery center consisted of 28 families. It was then when the pottery reached its prominence there. In the year of 1935, the Herasymenko brothers were invited to Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, where the creative workshop was founded. In two years, their ceramic products got to the all-Ukrainian exhibition and started to travel around the world, visited Montreal, Moscow, Paris, London and New York. 

What was manufactured and the way of painting 

Bubnivka ceramics from the funds of Vinnytsia Regional Center of Folk Art

The traditional products of the local potters were pots, pitchers, barrels and large jugs “in case”, bowls; toys such as “baa-lambs”, “horses”, “roosters”, “geese”, “baryshni” (ladies) and “moskali” (soldiers). For Bubnivka ceramics, the figures of animals and birds on the clay-clad lids for various pottery items were typical.

In the engobe technique of Bubnivka ceramics, apart from lines, dots, dashes, “kryvuli” (curved lines), concentric lines and row of dots, there are floral motives (flowers, “sosonka” (pine tree), “hilochka” (twig), “kosytsi” (braids)). Brown glazed Bubnivka bowls and plates, decorated with floral ornaments and grapes, were especially famous. Yellowish ceramics were mainly ornamented with dark green, brown, and white, less frequently blue and grey colors. Fliandrivka and rizhkuvannia techniques were used. Formerly a paint was applied with cow horn. Today a usual medical sprinkler is used. The very painting is executed with the acacia thorn.

The workshop on the painting of the Bubnivka plate with Flyandrivka elements held by the craftswoman Tetiana Shpak. The video was shot and edited by Larysa Ratushna Palace of Children and Youth of Vinnytsia. Head of the "Ceramics and Pottery" workshop M. Didenko. 

The short video demonstrates the technique of traditional Bubnivka painting in the performance of the Honored Craftswoman of Folk Art Tetiana Shpak (Bubnivka village, Haysyn district).


Bubnivka today 

Museum-estate of the Herasymenko brothers
Craftswoman T. Shpak. Photo provided by Vinnytsia Regional Center of Folk Art

It is possible to enjoy the exposition of Bubnivka ceramics at the regional and all-Ukrainian exhibitions and plein air. You can also visit Museum-estate of the Herasymenko brothers (photos of museum and expositions) in the village of Novoselivka in the Vinnytsia region.

Nowadays, only four women of retirement age are the pillars of the unique tradition of Bubnivka ceramics ornamental paintings. They are honored masters of folk art - Frosyna Mishchenko (born in 1926, the niece of the Herasemenko brothers) (photo of Mishchenko), Tetiana Shpak (born in 1947), Valentyna Zhyvko (born in 1950) and Tetiana Dmytrenko (born in 1957).

Thousands of their products are used in everyday life not in Ukraine only, but in Canada, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Turkey, China, etc. Along with the glory of the master-ceramists, the problem of continuing the tradition of Bubnivka pottery painting by young followers is crucial. Therefore, in May 2018, the tradition of ornamental painting of Bubnivka ceramics was included into the National List of Elements of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Ukraine, which envisages the implementation of measures for its protection by Vinnytsia Regional Center of Folk Art and Vinnytsia Center of the National Union of Masters of Folk Art of Ukraine. 


The art of a single village. Bubnivka ceramics from Novoselivka village, Haysyn district. Interview with the honored craftswomen of folk art Frosyna Mishchenko and Tetiana Shpak. Pottery Workshop by Frosyna Mishchenko. Excursion to the Bubnivka Museum of Pottery.
The video was shot with the support of the Vinnytsia regional center of folk art

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Want to know more? We advise you to get yourself acquainted with

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  2. Melnychuk L., Melnychuk I., Vdovtsov M. Bubnivska ceramics. Vinnytsia: "Vinnytsia Publishing". 1999. 81 pp.
  3. Melnychuk L., Melnychuk I. History of the Bubnivka pottery industry in Podillia // Ukrainian Ceramology: National Scientific Yearbook. Opishne: Ukrainian Ethnology, 2001. T. 1. S. 54-63.
  4. Olenin A. Unique ceramics from Vinnytsia area are painted with cow horns and acacia thorns. Culture July 28, 2018 site: URL:
  5. Titarenko V. To be Bubnivka pottery or not to be? // Svitlytsia 2017. No. 2. pp. 23-25: [colored photos].

Vinnytsia Regional Center for Folklore and the Manuscript Collection of the Educational and Scientific Laboratory on Podillia Ethology at the Department of History and Culture of Ukraine at Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky State Pedagogical University of Vinnytsia provided materials and photos of their authorship for creation of this Webpage