Folk Art PA

Vera Nakonechny

Rushnyky , Wedding and Healing Ritual Towels
(Nurturing Well-being and Health)

Vera Nakonechny was born in Germany to Ukrainian parents who had been forced there during the war.  After immigrating to Philadelphia she studied with many masters of Ukrainian traditional arts, including Eudokia Sorochaniuk.  Since Ukrainian independence in 1991, she has been able to travel there regularly to both learn and teach important traditions such as weaving, embroidery, and making the intricate headpieces significant to regional dress. 

“For each occasion there is a different towel:  birth, christening, wedding, healing…  Each is done in different ways with different symbols and different embroideries, and yet each is always symbolizing that spiritual part of human life.”

Rushnyky tell the story of family and community, and often function as healing tools in a Ukrainian Community. 

“The towel with girls holding hands…  this towel was embroidered in one night for healing.  The girls symbolize power and ARE powerful.  They do not allow bad things to come through their locked hands.  Women worked from sundown to sun-up, and the whole entire night they prayed on this and they prayed for health, blessing the towel as they worked.  If the towel was for a sick person, they wrapped the person in it.  Or if it was a community problem, the women would take this for whatever purpose that it was needed –natural disasters, livestock, work…  sometimes they would put the finished towel over the gate and then have all the livestock go through it!”