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23.01.2020

A real “true” ethnographic museum may appear at the school No.17 of Novhorodske village of Toretsk district. All the prerequisites for this have already been created.

We have already talked about urban-type settlement Novhorodske, which now competes for the historic name of New York – the village was called until 1951. In the “Ukrainian New York” there are many cultural centers, and despite the fact that it is located on the contact line – 7 kilometers straight to the occupied Horlivka. Here are the roots of the descendants of the Zaporozhian Cossacks who founded their dwellings in Zalizna Beam, and of the German Mennonite colonists who bought the lands in 1889 and settled on the left bank of Kryvyi Torets River. For more than ten years students and teachers of school No.17 have reproduced the ancestral memory in the museum room of the folk life «Spiritual well». Zinaida Harmash, a lecturer in ethnology started collecting of antiquities in 2002. They began with the study of household antiquities in students’ families. Then they became enthusiastic and visited friends, acquaintances and neighbors. Something was found in the attic, something in a grandmother’s coffer, some exhibits were stored for a long time in the cowshed where the cattle lived. Oxbow, yoke, harman (threshing stone, from Turkish harman – threshing), stone trough for watering cattle – these things were the first exhibits of the science room created by the students.

– We have 14 student guides who arrange excursions for the younger classes, school guests, military personnel who have been protecting our village for five years. It is interesting that in recent years, namely military people have been added our museum room with exhibits. Because they are often placed in abandoned houses and enterprises where soldiers find ancient things and bring them as a gift to schoolchildren, – Liudmyla Tertychna, a head of the group Young guides says.

When you enter the ethnographic room – you immediately get into ancient times. There is a house exposure on the right – a layout of a house with thatched roof and courtyard. There is a stove here, which in ancient times symbolized the family hearth as a sacred good power coming from the sun. Table, bowls, shelves and many utensils: pitchers, cups, pots, kumgans, mortars and pestles. Wooden bed with pillows of different sizes and decoration. A baby carriage, because Ukrainian and Mennonite families used to give birth to many children. Traditional portraits of a host and a hostess of the house are a symbol of immortal memory of the family circle. The baptized icon in the corner, red snowball tree, embroidered shirts, and an old horseshoe – are those things without which ancestors could not imagine their lives without.

The exposition “Agricultural implements and household items” tells about the local population activities in farming and animal husbandry. The collection of irons, washing boards, yokes and other hand-held equipment is impressive.

– A house without towels – is like a family without children – young guides draw visitors’ attention to the main wall of the ethnographic room, where towels of different embroidery techniques create panel pictures and decorate all the corners, playing the role of amulets.

By the way, master classes in needlework are particularly popular at the school, such as making of handkerchiefs and rag dolls. The students also make DIY decorations for the settlement Christmas tree, involving parents and relatives.

– That is why our Christmas tree is unharmed from St. Nicholas Day during all the Christmas holidays, because no one will ever mind damaging toys made by themselves, – Liudmyla Tertychna says.

High school students are avid carolers. They gratefully put on traditional costumes and greet the inhabitants of the village with ritual songs.

Christmas songs heard on the streets of the frontline village gave to Olha Danyliuk, a stage director from Kyiv, the impetus to create an interactive promenade-play “Letters to a Stranger from New York”. From these songs, the performance began at the capital Art Arsenal. According to Olha, the idea of ​​creating a genre, dubbed “interactive documentation”, arose from acquaintance with the carolers. It is a mosaic of unfabled fragments of life near military operations – children play themselves, and viewers are part of the action and are close to the teens.

The front-line school became famous once again when in 2017, the photo with schoolchildren in embroideries appeared in the Internet – variety of Ukrainian patterns against the gray reality of the contact line was very contrasting.

The plans include the acquisition of the status of the school’s ethnographic museum. Teachers and students are working diligently on this. In 2018, the graduates of the Young Guide group initiated the participation in the international competition “Historical competitions in Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine”, where their project on the monuments of the Mennonite culture of New York village took second place. The next stage in development of the regional natural history movement was the competition “Building a Local Culture of Remembrance”, which was supported by the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany in partnership with the Körber Foundation and the All-Ukrainian Association “Nova Doba”. In view of results of the competition, the school received a grant in the amount of 17.000 UAH for which calendars, guide books and magnets from the history of the village were made. In 2019, the school participated in the regional competition “My Town (Village) on the Palm”; where it presented a booklet made by students about the outstanding personalities of the village, as well as a historical film about the Mennonite culture of New York.

Nadiia HORDIIUK/Gromada No. 1 (10), 2020