Beadwork • Gerdany
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Gerdany - contemporary meaning

    • These days in North America, people of Ukrainian heritage refer to any beaded adornment created from seed beads as a 'gerdan'. The word "gerdany", (plural for 'gerdan' in Ukrainian), has become the generic term for all beadwork worn around the neck.
    • Upon further study, 'gerdan' is the Turkish word for neck. It was adopted for a specific long beadwoven piece worn on the chest and joined in a medallion.
    • In Ukraine, beadwork may be casually called 'gerdany', but there are many styles which are named for the techniques used to create them.

This basic netting is referred to as 'gerdany'. Note how color placement and bead sizes create interesting effects. For many, red and black are assumed to be traditional Ukrainian color palette. This is not true.


Gerdany with Kosmach embroidery patterns
by Maria D. Chulak, Pyadyky, Ukraine. 2004

(r.) Bukovynian floral loom woven gerdan.


    • A gerdan is a long, narrow chest
       adornment from a continuous solid
       (loomwoven) or openwork band with
       a medallion in front.




    • The word 'sylyanka' comes from 'sylyaty'= to string beads. Plural is 'sylyanky'.
    • This was multi-needle weaving using natural linen threads or horsehair. One would start with multiple threads tied together and secured. To start, string a single bead on two separate threads and criss-cross them through a common bead to lock it in place.
    • This process repeats across all the threads to desired length.
    • The netted bead band naturally forms a point because of the construction method.
    • The long threads are braided and used to tie on the choker if it is not stitched onto a twill tape to stabilize the 'sylyanka'.
    • Single bands 'sylyanky' were most commonly used as chokers or headbands.



    • 'Komirets' is a collar which is generally netted. They come in many widths.
    • Some refer to them as 'sylyanky' because of the technique of stringing and interlacing
       beads with a needle and thread. However, they are often created with a single needle method.
    • Motifs are geometric in nature because of the technique of netting.
       Increases and decreases help shape the collar.
    • Some have loops or sawtooth edges.
    • Komirtsi could be finish with braided threads, hooks or clasps.
    • The sylyanka on top and komirets are separated by a string of highly prized Venetian beads.
       Bohdan Petrychuk Collection. Ukraine.


Lemko Kryvulka

    • Lemko people had the widest 'kryzy' collars. They called this style 'kryvulka',
       but in some referred to them as 'kraycha'.
    • Four components of the Lemko 'kryvulka':
    • 'Polotnya' - choker band
    • Vertical netting of rhombs
    • Zigzags - increase row by row
    • 'Gombychky' - larger bead along edge
    • Many chokers were beaded with right angle weave, though other stitches were used
       to create a tight fit from which to add the vertical netting of the rhombs.
    • Red opaque beads were the background color with blue, green, white and yellow.

Child-size kryvulka. 1930's. Dianna Melnyk Collection



Sylyanky and komirtsi collars on display at the Hutsul & Pokuttya Nat. Museum,
Kolomyia. 2008



    • "Lantsuzhky" means chains. This term encompasses all narrow seed bead work.
    • Daisy chains and narrow ladders.
    • Chains of picots can be worn together.
    • White picot trim is stitched around sylyanky in Horodenka.
       Together it is stitched onto a red twill for wearing or trimming a hat.

Trimmed sylyanky from Horodenka,
Hutsul & Pokuttya Museum Collection,
Kolomyia. 2008



"Ukrainian" Russian Spiral by
Judie Hawryluk, PA, 2007


    • 'Kruchenyky' are  open-core spirals prepared in a column, 'u stovpchyky'.
    • It's often referred to as Russian Spirals or DNA. It's actually tubular netting.
    • The tension used to stitch the tube creates the structure of the piece.
       A loose tension makes a soft tube.











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