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Travelling Hutsul, Galicia, 1872; lithograph

Hutsuls (Ukrainian: Гуцули, singular Гуцул, Romanian: Huţuli, singular Huţul, Hutsul dialect: Hutsule, singular Hutsul; alternatively spelled Huculs, Huzuls, Hutzuls, Gutsuls, Guculs, Guzuls, or Gutzuls; Polish: Hucuł, plural Huculi, Hucułowie) are an ethno-cultural group of Ukrainian highlanders who for centuries have inhabited the Carpathian mountains, mainly in Ukraine, but also in the northern extremity of Romania (in the areas of Bukovina and Maramureş), as well as in Slovakia and Poland.

The ethnicity of the Hutsuls is controversial. While many, especially in Ukraine, consider them a subgroup of Ukrainians, others consider them a division of the Rusyns (Ruthenians).



There are different versions for the origins of the name Hutsul. An explanation is that it comes from the Romanian word for "outlaw" (cf. Rom. hoţ - "thief", hoţul - "the thief"). Other explanations place their origins in the Slavic kochul - "wanderer","migrant", in reference to their semi-nomadic lifestyle, to the name of the Turkic tribe of the Uzy, and even to the name of the Moravian Grand Duke Hetsyla.[1]

History and origins

Hutsuls inhabit areas situated between the south-east of those inhabited by the Boykos, down to the northern part of the Romanian segment of the Carpathians. There are several hypotheses concerning the origin of Hutsuls. According to one of them, Hutsuls are descendants of Slavic tribe Ulichs, that had to leave their previous homes near the Buh river under the pressure of Pechenegs.[2] Hutsuls identify themselves as a part of Ukrainian ethnos, having at the same time their local identity as a sub-ethnos.[3] The Romanian poet Mihai Eminescu who had lived in Bucovina and had contacts with Hutsul people believed that they are descendents of the free Dacians who were slavicised.


The Hutsul language is relatively unique. It is considered to be a dialect of Ukrainian with some Polish influences.[4][5][6][7][8] Several words in their dialect have Romanian origins (e.g. kyptar - "vest", from Rom. cheptar cf. Latin pectus; zgardy - "necklace", from Rom. zgardă, cf.Rom. brânză).

Due to the current educational system, the Hutsul dialect is in danger of extinction. Compulsory education is done only in standardized literary Ukrainian. In recent times there has been a roots movement to keep the traditional Hutsul language alive.

Way of life and culture

Hutsul wedding dress, bead embroidery

Traditional Hutsul culture is often represented by the colorful and intricate craftsmanship of their clothing, sculpture, architecture, woodworking, metalworking (especially in brass), rug weaving, pottery, and egg decorating (see pysanka). Along with other Hutsul traditions, as well as their songs and dances, this culture is often celebrated and highlighted by the different countries that Hutsuls inhabit.

Ukrainian Hutsul culture bears a resemblance to neighboring cultures of western and southwestern Ukraine[1] [2], particularly Lemkos and Boykos. These groups also share similarities with other Slavic highlander peoples, such as the Gorals in Poland and Slovakia[3]. Similarities have also been noted with some Vlach cultures such as the Moravian Wallachians in the Czech Republic, as well as some cultures in Romania [4]. Most Hutsuls belong to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Hutsul society was traditionally based on forestry and logging, as well as cattle and sheep breeding; the Hutsuls are credited with having created the breed of horse known as the Hucul pony. They use unique musical instruments, including the "trembita" (trâmbiţa), a type of alpenhorn of Dacian origin, as well multiple varieties of the fife, or sopilka, that are used to create unique folk melodies and rhythms. Also frequently used are the bagpipe (duda), the jew's harp (drymba), and the hammered dulcimer - tsymbaly.

The Hutsuls served as an inspiration for many writers, such as Ivan Franko, Lesya Ukrainka, Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky, Vasyl Stefanik, Marko Cheremshyna, Mihail Sadoveanu, Stanisław Vincenz and painters, such as Teodor Axentowicz famous for his portraits and subtle scenes of Hutsul life. Sergei Parajanov's 1964 film Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (Тіні забутих предків), which is based on the book by Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky, portrays scenes of traditional Hutsul life.

Every summer, the village of Sheshory in Ukraine hosts a three-day international festival of folk music and art. Two Hutsul-related museums are located in Kolomyia, Ukraine: the Pysanky museum and the Museum of Hutsul and Pokuttya Folk Art. Traditional Hutsul sounds and moves were effectively used by the Ukrainian winner of the 2004 Eurovision song contest, Ruslana Lyzhychko.

See also


  1. ^ "Hutsulshchyna: The Name and Origin". KosivArt. Retrieved 2008-07-23.  
  2. ^ "1. ВСТУПНІ ЗАВВАГИ. Юрій Шевельов. Історична фонологія української мови." (in Ukrainian). Retrieved 2008-07-23.  
  3. ^ "На Закарпатті Рахівська районна рада рада звернулася з протестом до Президента та Генпрокуратури проти рішення обласної ради про визнання національності "русин" - UA-REPORTER.COM" (in Ukrainian). Retrieved 2008-07-23.  
  4. ^ "Youth organizations of Prykarpattia initiate giving regional status to Hutsul dialect". Ukrainian Independent Information Agency. 2006-06-21. Retrieved 2008-07-23.  
  5. ^ Clark, Kathy and Bill (1997-07-12). "Kosmach". Kathy and Bill Clark's Ukrainian Vacation. Retrieved 2008-07-23.  
  6. ^ "The Hutsuls People". Ensemble "Halychyna". Retrieved 2008-07-23.  
  7. ^ Volodymyr Kubijovyc, ed (1989). "Hutsul region". Encyclopedia of Ukraine. 2. University of Toronto Press. Retrieved 2008-07-23.  
  8. ^ "Hutsules" (in French). Retrieved 2008-07-23.  

External links



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