Acquisition, Conservation and Display of Ukrainian Folk Costume from Etnographic museum of the Trocadéro in Paris, Musée de l’Homme and at Mucem in Marseille (France)
The Mucem (The Museum of the Civilisations of Europe and the Mediterranean) collections include nearly 820 objects from Ukraine, half of which are items of dress or textile samples, primarily dating from the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. The collections were inherited from the ethnographic museum of the Trocadéro in Paris (1878-1936), which became the Musée de l’Homme in 1937. They were then transferred to The Museum of the Civilisations of Europe and the Mediterranean (Mucem) in Marseille, in 2005.
The Palais du Trocadéro, built for the Paris World’s Fair in 1878, hosted the first ethnographic museum. Under the direction of the anthropologist Ernest Hamy, the museum preserves collections of objects related to scientific expeditions and ethnographic missions. A collection of 74 textile items from Poland and Ukraine entered the museum in 1896 through an anonymous donation. One of the most remarkable is the man’s coat called ‘Sukmana’ which comes from Volhynia, situated in the North West of Ukraine (DMH1896.83.64). This region became part of Russia in 1795. In 1921, it became part of Poland, and then in 1939 it was annexed by the Soviet Union, as a subdivision of the Ukranian Soviet Socialist Republic In 1991, it finally became a region of an independent Ukraine. This typical coat of the Ruthene people is made of felted sheep’s wool and is ornamented with red and yellow braids and tassels. It has a straight collar and is open in the front, fastening to mid-length. In 1930 Baron de Baye (1852-1931), archaeologist and anthropologist, donated 15 objects from Ukraine and Russia. Collected from the governments of Poltava and Kyiv, their rich embroideries demonstrate the ability and skills of the people who made them, and include a skirt, apron, blouse, piece of cloth and chemise (DMH1930.47.6 & 7).
The department of European ethnography at the musée de l’Homme continues both to collect in the field and to acquire from collectors and investigators, such as René Bénézech, who donated 7 items in 1938. Among these is a coat called ‘cojok’, made of white sheep skin embellished with appliqués and embroideries and decorated inside with black and white fur, which comes from Bucovine in Ukraine. This item is associated with the Hutsuls, a mountain people living in the Carpathians (DMH1938.92.4). A young girl’s outfit from Starychi was donated to the collection by Dora Rak.
The diversity of the peoples associated with these costumes from the territories of Ukraine testifies to the complexity and the movements of populations, of the changing borders and of the cultural exchanges which have marked for centuries the history of this region.
Marie-Charlotte Calafat
Curator at MUCEM Marseille

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