A qualified craftswoman, entitled Folk Master. participant of the "Secrets of Dollmakers" collection, Maryna Dubrovska still continues producing Motankas in Kharkiv during the wartimes. Under the constant fire on the city and its civilian objects, that did not stop in this region since the beginning of the russian aggression in February, she stays home and continues to give lessons to those pupils, who didn't leave the native city, since 15th of March 2022. They produced amulet dolls for the defenders of Ukraine, almost 400 "Angels" and 200 "Guardians". Maryna says: "We continue to produce in order to find peace for the soul, so that the days are filled with creativity, which supports in a difficult period in our lives".
The doll you keep in your hands was made at her place in Kharkiv, together with 2 talented pupils Julia Petrenko and her daughter Margaryta Petrenko, 15 years, one of the restless nights in June 2022, interrupted by air sirens, which has already become habitual for citizens of Kharkiv.
Knyazivna (Dutchess) is a reproduction of folk dolls based on research and the book by O. Nayden "Ukrainian folk doll".
All dolls are made with thread, by hand, by winding each detail of the doll's clothes. It's one of the traditions to make Motankas with no needle. "Some of the dolls were made from fabrics that I had from my aunt. These are the tissues that she has preserved. My aunt is now 92 years old. I saved her towels for the decoration of the office, where I give lessons."
The doll, as a rule, is an intermediary between grandmother and granddaughter, that is, between the older and younger generations, it served a family and home amulet. Motanka was created as a gift, for a holiday, wedding or birthday, it has a tribal, ethnic, national factor of love and hopes, faith in goodness.
and protection from evil forces. We consider every "Motanka of Freedom", a doll created during the russian-Ukrainian war, to be collectible and full of genuine emotions, so they will tell stories to people throughout the generations, with the goal that any war will never happen again in this world.
Military Motanka (brooch)
This is a handmade doll made during the Russian-Ukrainian war, in June 2022, by Larysa Didyk, a professional craftsman.
With the beginning of a large-scale russian aggression, every Ukrainian is supporting the army forces with donations or volonteer work. Larysa from Khotiv, Kyiv region, stayed in the country and joined the volonteers that started to produce army uniform for country defenders. From the small scraps of fabric, remaining from the sewing of body armor, these miniature Motanka-dolls in the form of brooches were made. Preserving the traditions, it is made with no face and without a stich!
Motanka - is a historic ukrainian amulet, that aims to protect its owner from all the evil. The author transfers 100% of the money, gained from selling these special souvenirs to the needs of ukrainian armed forces. Thus, the motanka in your hands will protect the soldiers 3 times: physically as a uniform, emotionally as an amulet and financially, when sold.
Made under such circumstances, these dolls have become part of the collection of #motankaoffreedom, a project, uniting artists and craftsmen producing artworks on the topic, that will sure become part of ukrainian cultural heritage. The artworks aim as a reminder of the hard times, problems and sufferings that every of the Ukrainian nation had to undergo, as well as the warning for the next generations of all the evil that the war
brings in order not to have it happen ever again in any part of the world.
Irpyn' occupation witnesses
Larisa Olyinyk, a correctional teacher, produces motankas with hand embroidery as a hobby. The 24th of February the full-scale russian agression started and in a few days the Putin's troops reached the suburban cities of Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine. Many people were forced to quickly leave their homes, those, who decided to stay suffered the temporary occupation of cruel russian army, were scared, sometimes tortured and murdered by the russian militaries. Nearly all the country was under air attacks, thousands of civilians were killed, including children... The abandoned houses in Irpyn`, Boucha, Borodyanka, etc., could suffer from bombs and fire or be occupied, robbed and destroyed by the invaders, russian soldiers.
Larysa, as many others, was resettled from now tragically world-famous Irpyn' to the West, and she was worried whether her handcrafted dolls left at home will survive. When she returned, in a half-ruined and burnt apartment, she's found them « alive » after the russian occupation of the city.
Yes, probably they were not magic enough to save the apartment from explosions, but now, after her son Dmitry Tereshkov'd posted these photos and they were immediately sold worldwide, with the money gained, they will serve to restore the house for Larisa and her neighbours.
The doll you posess was started before, survived the occupation in a half-ruined house in Irpyn', and was finished after it.
We consider every doll created during the war to be collectible and full of genuine emotions, so they will tell stories to people throughout the generations, with the goal that any war will never happen again in this world.
Before the war Janna Elzomor, originally from Kherson, worked as a sommelier in Kyiv. Her interest in traditional ukrainian dolls started, when she was regarding the photos of the ruined houses and suddenly saw a Motanka doll. Then she began to study the history, how and why these dolls were made, etc. Made one for herself, then for a loved ones. And could not stop.
Then came an idea to share the photos: "In general, I want people outside Ukraine to learn more about our traditions. So that people knew, that our folklore are not red harem pants and rainbow wreaths. It is deeper and wider than that".
The project #motankaoffreedom collected 5 first works "for sale" of Janna, that`s why it could seem not so highly professional, but extremely emotionally coloured, as they were made under the circumstances of the war times and with the so-called 'genetic code' that suddenly came out. They are traditionally with no face, should preserve a form of a cross and be made without a single stitch (no needle should ever get in Motanka doll, only if on decoration elements, that are made apart)
The doll you held in your hands represents a ukrainian Bride, one of the three "classic" Motankas, and were given to the young girls in order to get happily married.
We consider every "Motanka of Freedom", a doll created during the russian-Ukrainian war, to be collectible and full of genuine emotions, so they will tell stories to people throughout the generations, with the goal that any war will never happen again in this world.
Ukrainian Barbie dolls
Lubov Podolinna, Kyiv
Motanka vs Matryoshka
This is a remake on "Motanka vs Matryoshka", a picture, that has become the symbol of our project, made by Halyna Sernivka during the full-scale war against Ukraine.
Halyna Sernivka, who personally took part in hostilities in the anti-terrorist operation zone, in particular in Debaltseve, in August-October 2014 as part of the volunteer battalion of the National Guard. An ex-journalist, volunteer, and senior police lieutenant, this incredible woman from Transcarpathia knows the realities of war, appreciates the weight of words and wraps accurate sniper language in visuals.
On the painting you can see the "battle" of a Ukrainian woman and a russian one, represented by traditional dolls. Motanka has a cross instead of her face, as far as ancient people thought, that otherwise the doll might have the soul. And Matryoshka is just empty inside. There are more details, if comparing to the first version as far as during 2022 every Ukrainian learnt something new about their neighbours: there are famous symbols of the former USSR, that fall out of matryoshka, who has a red star in her head. These hammer (also allusion to Wagner group) and sickle are
splashed with fresh blood. And on its face we see a pig's nose, symbol of inhumain behaviour of russian occupants of Ukrainian land. There are surely more secret symbols, that author implemented into the painting.
Income from the sale of "Motanka vs Matryoshka" will be used to help one of the units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, supported by the artist, namely the platoon that defended Irpin, then rotated in Bakhmut, the hottests spots of this unjust and cruel war against Ukrainian nation.
Motanka is a family amulet, who keeps the house in order. These two dolls should obviously go to the kitchen and make, as our grannies use to cook for us, some wonderful Ukrainian drink: fruit compote with spices or dried fruits.
Galyna Okypniak is a diplomated professional, who makes every detail of the doll, embroidery and fruit compositions by herself. She fights again the inappropriate use of traditional relics, such as old towels, which are sometimes cut in order not to waste time on embroidery. At the same time, she tries to find authentic fabrics and home-spun canvas in her works. "Creating original dolls is my real hobby," he says. - I got to know such dolls for the first time in 2015, after visiting a creative exhibition of dolls created by children at the Taras Shevchenko Museum. Then it seemed that these children's dolls were talking to each other about something mysterious, but common to all of us. They charmed with their silent mystery. In an effort to unravel their mystery, I began to study the history of Ukrainian folk dolls. Therefore, my home library was replenished with books by well-known researchers - O. Nayden ("The Paradox of the Ukrainian Doll"), L. Orlova ("The Big Book of Dolls"), I. Shipilova ("Dolls of the Rivne Polissia"), ethnographer, folklorist Mark Hrushevsky, and others. After making more than one doll, I remembered the doll that my mother made for me when I was a child. We didn't have many store toys then, and my mother's was a real miracle for me, there was something wonderful, familiar and dear about her. I remembered it for the rest of my life: wrapped in white woolen scarves, with bright, large pink roses, warmth; she seemed to have a soul.
These are souvenir Motankas, with Ukrainian medicine herbals, that tenderly perfume the space around with a true Ukrainian Polonyna (treeless area of the upper belt of the Eastern Carpathians). Traditionally we make a curing tea with these herbs, or put it into some dishes while cooking. This can be your amulet for the house, as Motankas are used to be.
This is the author's work representing a Solokha - Солоха - a national character that combines both positive and negative sides. At the same time she is hypocritical, but charming and attractive. She is a dexterous and daring woman, but at the same time very portly and not without guile. This is also a famous heroine of 'Christmas Eve' of Mykola Gogol, Ukrainian writer considered 'russian' as far as they appropriate all the gains of Ukrainian culture that they failed to destroy. At the same time, Solokha has a typical Ukrainian appearance, clothes and character, she refutes the claims of the Russians that Ukrainian nationality does not exist. May this doll preserve the memory of the blossoming Ukrainian people.
Irina Koren is originally from Crimea, currently lives in Dnipro and is currently working on creating a motanka with authentic historical Crimean clothing.
These work is as bright as Ukraine in peaceful sunny days. The doll is big, 60 cm high, so might be a a chic attraction in the window of your store or will take place in the decor of your home. It is spreading light around her, but it witnessed the darkest times war. She made a real way of a refugee, that came all the way from Poltava to France, while people who event don't know each other helped her on different stages while finally she has found her asylium in a monastery of Carmelites, that has temporarily turned into a shelter for Ukrainian peoples escaped from the bombs and shellings in Ukraine. But now, after 6 months of tranquility, she has to go further. Probably, right into your place.
Nina Balala puts so much emotions into her craftworks, that are clearly seen even on the photos. Be sure, it will bring you pleasant warm greetings from the kind Ukrainian traditional artists.
We are not a professional shop, just trying to help Ukrainian craftsmen sell their works abroad.
Now we have a small part of the collection brought in Paris, France and can deliver from here worldwide. Also we can assist to deliver your direct orders from Ukraine. All terms of delivery has to be discussed, so please write us a message before or after choosing your gift, and please note that any of them is unique so there might be an unpredictable rupture of the stock. But finally please be sure we will find YOUR craft and contribution to the preservation of traditional popular art of Ukraine. Thank you!
write a message
We have much more information products and ideas, than is mentioned here. Open to collaboration. And we are searching to expose the collection of Motanka of Freedom worldwide.
We answer all the direct messages on Instagram and e-mail.
Click to order
PHOTO CREDITS: MAIN PHOTO from Borodyanka by OLEKSANDR KHOMENKO (c)
We use the photos provided by the authors of craftwork or made by ourselves.