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My native town – Kolomiya
Kolomyia (Ukrainian: Коломия, Polish: Ko?omyja, Russian: Коломыя) is a
town and a raion (district) centre in Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast (province)
in Ukraine, at the Prut River. It is located at 48° 31? 50? N, 025° 02?
25? E, almost halfways between Lviv and Chernivtsi, in the centre of the
historical region of Pokuttya, with which it shared much of its history.
The town has circa 68.000 inhabitants (as of 1993). It is a notable
railroad hub, as well as an industrial centre (textiles, shoes,
metallurgical plant, machine works, wood and paper industry). It is also
one of centres of Hutsul culture.
The settlement of Kolomyia was first mentioned in 1241, during the
Mongol Invasion of Rus’. Initially part of Kievan Rus’, it later
belonged to one of its successor states, the principality of
Halych-Volhynia. In 1340 it was annexed to Poland by king Casimir the
Great, together with the rest of the region of Red Ruthenia. In short
time the settlement became one of the most notable centres of commerce
in the area. Because of that, the population rose rapidly.
Prior to 1353 there were two parochies in the settlement, one for
Catholics and the other for Orthodox. In 1412 king W?adys?aw Jagie??o
erected a Dominican order monastery and a stone-built church there.
About the same time, the king was forced by the war with the Teutonic
Order to pawn the area of Pokucie to the hospodar of Valachia Alexander.
Although the city remained under Polish sovereignity, the income of the
customs offices in the area was given to Vallachians, after which time
the debt was repaid.
In 1424 the town’s city rights were confirmed and it was granted with
the Magdeburg Law, which allowed the burghers for a limited
self-governance. This moved made the development of the area faster and
Ko?omyja, as it was called back then, attracted many settlers from many
parts of Europe. Apart from the local Ruthenians and Poles, many
Armenians, Jews and Hungarians settled there. In 1443, a year before his
death, king Wladislaus II of Poland granted the city with yet another
privilege which allowed the burghers to trade with salt, one of the most
precious minerals of the Middle Ages.
Since the castle gradually fell into dismay, in 1448 king Casimir IV of
Poland gave the castle on the hill above the town to Maria, widow of
Eliah, voivod of Moldavia as a dowry. In exchange, she refurbished the
castle and reinforced it. In 1456 the town was granted with yet another
privilege. This time the king allowed the town authorities to stop all
merchants passing by the town and force them to sell their goods at the
local market. This gave the town additional boost, especially that the
region was one of three salt-producing areas in Poland (the other two
being Wieliczka and Bochnia, both not far from Krakow.
The area was relatively peaceful for the last century. However, the
vacuum after the decline of the Golden Horde started to be filled with
yet another power in the area: the Ottoman Empire. In 1485 sultan
Beyazid II captured Belgorod and Kilia, two ports at the northern shores
of the Black Sea. This became a direct threat to Moldavia. In search of
allies, its’ ruler ?tefan cel Mare came to Ko?omyja and paid hommage to
the Polish king, thus becoming a vassal of the Polish Crown. For the
ceremony, both monarch came with roughly 20 thousand of knights, which
was probably the biggest festivity held in the town – ever. After the
festivity most knights returned home apart from 3000 under Jan
Karnkowski, who were given to the Moldavian prince as support in his
battles he won in the end.
the rest were forced to pay high indemnities.
The town was returned to Poland soon afterwards, but the city’s growth
lost its momentum. In 1620 another Polono-Turkish war broke out. After
the Polish defeat at Cecora, Ko?omyja was yet again seized by the Turks
– this time the town was burnt to the ground while all of the burghers
were enslaved in a yasir. After the war the area yet again returned to
Poland. With the town in ruins, the starosta of Kamieniec Podolski
fortress financed its reconstruction – slightly further away from the
Prut River. The town was rebuilt, but it never regained its power and
remained one of many similar-scaled centres in the area.
In the effect of the Partitions of Poland of 1772, Ko?omyja was annexed
by Austria. However, as it provided very little profit, it was sold to
the castellan of Be?z, Ewaryst Kuropatnicki, who became the town’s
owner. The magnate financed a new Our Lady’s Church, but he lacked
finance for speeding-up the city’s growth. The prosperity returned to
the town in mid-19th century, when it was linked to the world through
the Lemberg-Czernowitz railroad. By 1882 the city had almost 24.000
inhabitants, including roughly 12.000 Jews, 6.000 Ruthenians and 4.000
Poles. Until the end of that century, the commerce attracted even more
inhabitants from all-over the Galicia. Moreover, a new Jesuit Catholic
church was built in Kolomyja, as it was called by German authorities,
along with a Lutheran church built in 1874. By 1901 the number of
inhabitants grew to 34.188, approximately half of them Jews.
After the outbreak of the Great War, the town saw fierce fights between
the forces of Russian Empire and Austria-Hungary. In the effect of the
collapse of Austria-Hungary, both the town itself and the surrounding
region became disputed between renascent Poland and Western Ukrainian
National Republic. However, during the Polish-Ukrainian War of 1919, it
was seized without the fight by forces of Romania and handed over to
Polish authorities. After the Polish-Soviet War it remained in Poland as
a capital of a powiat within the Stanis?awow Voivodship. By 1931 the
number of inhabitants grew to over 41.000 inhabitants. The ethnic
mixture was composed of Jews, Poles, Ukrainians, Hutsuls, Germans,
Armenians and Hungarians, as well as of descendants of Valachians and
other nationalities of former Austria-Hungary. With the development of
infrastructure, the town became a major railroad hub, as well as the
garrison city of the Hutsul Rifle Regiment, probably the only
purely-Hutsul military unit in history.
After the outbreak of the World War II of 1939 the town was thought of
as one of the centres of Polish defence of the so-called Romanian
Bridgehead. However, the Soviet invasion from the east made these plans
obsolete and the town was captured by the Red Army. In the effect of the
Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the town was attached by the Soviet Union to
the Ukrainian SSR. In 1940 most of the local Poles were arrested by the
NKVD and sent to Gulag system or to various Soviet prisons. In 1941 the
town was seized by Nazi Germany. During the German occupation most of
city’s Jews were murdered by the Germans. Initial street executions of
September and October of 1941 took the lives of approximately 500
people. The following year the remaining Jews were massed in a local
ghetto and then murdered in various concentration camps, mostly in
Be??ec. Several hundred Jews were kept as slave workers in a work camp
and then murdered in 1943 in a forest near Szeparowka.
When the Soviet Army drove the Axis forces out, the town with the area
was reattached to the Soviet Ukraine and the remaining Poles were
expelled to Poland. It now remains a part of Ukraine, independent since
Kolomyia’s Museum of Hutsul Folk Art
The historical traditions of living and creating crafts are collected in
Kolomyia’s museum of Hutsul folk art. This museum represents woodworks,
embroidery, carpeting and closing, ceramics, Easter eggs, glass drawing,
works with metal and leather.
The idea of establish museum of Hutsul folk art appears among
intelligent people at the end of XIX century. One of the biggest
advocate of this idea was Ivan Franko (Ukrainian philosopher,poet, and
writer second half of XIX century and begining of XX century). But only
in 1926 was made plan to organize the museum, and in 1927 Bolodymyr
Kobryns’kyj started to creat it. He was deepest admirer of Hutsul folk
art, and he spent a lot of time and money for establishing this museum.
Some exhibits were donate by Ukrainian intelligentsia from their own
collection and some of them was collected from villages. Only on
December 31 1934 museum was officially open.
The museum had a lot difficulties. Because museum was based on
donations, there was not enough money for scientific work; museum was
open only one day per week. Even in this conditions museum as a cell of
Ukrainian culture was not welcome to the Polish government. ( At that
time this part of Ukraine was under Polish power). Museum was closed for
some time in 1937 and reopen under pressure of public. Many valuable
exhibits was destroy during World War II by Nazi. But museum continue to
live and develop in present days. At present time museum fills up with
new exhibits from the modern artists.
You can see on the picture one part of the museum collection: interior
of village house from the middle of XIX century. The house build from
wood has the stove made from a ceramic tile, wood bed and cradle with
carvings and covered by fabric, and household items as ceramic dishes,
hat, sticks, leather bags. The museum has collections: woodcuts, works
from metal and leather, ceramics, Easter eggs, glass drawing,
embroidery, carpets, clothes and shows evolution of folk art from the
end of XVIII century to the present time.
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