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Unity cloth on world tour
31
Jan '08
The National Unity Rushnyk, the artwork arrived at the Ukrainian Museum in lower Manhattan's East Village on January 25. This unique piece of fabric is on a traveling exhibit through parts of Europe, the US and Canada, symbolizing the unity of the people of Ukraine around the world.

The cloth is intricately embroidered, measuring 30 feet by 30 inches, in the form of average Ukrainian table runner. The ritual cloth is hand stitched by 1,000 folk artists, including President Viktor Yushchenko's wife, Kateryna, from each of Ukraine's 27 oblasts, or provinces, during the past year.

About 20 craftsmen in New York were called to attend the one-day exhibition and add brightly colored patterns from the regions they left behind decades ago.

Lubow Wolynetz, curator of the museum's folk art collection told that the idea originated a year ago with the National Guild of Folk Arts Masters in Ukraine. It reflects the effort of the Ukrainian people to transcend division and misunderstanding, to show that they're one people, at home and in the Diaspora.

Those involved in the project - artists, folk artists, ethnographers and museum curators - worked to incorporate as many characteristic regional patterns into the overall traditional 'Tree of Life' motif, with each branch depicting its history, unity, culture and traditions, said Wolynetz.

The Rushnyk already has traveled to Poland, which has a large Ukrainian population. After New York, it will be put on display in the Canadian cities of Toronto, Ottawa and Edmonton. At each stop, more embroidery will be added. Other US cities may be included at a later date.

Ultimately, the Rushnyk will return to Ukraine where it will be exhibited at museums across the country. Its final resting place has not yet been decided.

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