Olena Pchilka

Олена Пчілка


Olena Pchilka (Олена  Пчілка) was the pseudonym of Olha Kosach, a Ukrainian writer and one of the first Ukrainian ethnographers.  She was born 29 June 1849 in Hadiach, Poltava gubernia, and died 4 October 1930 in Kyiv.

Although born in Left Bank Ukraine, Olena spent much of her adult life in West Bank Ukraine, in Volyn. She was a writer, community leader, feminist and ethnographer, and a corresponding member of the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences from 1925. Despite all her accomplishments, she is remembered today more for being the mother of writer Lesia Ukrainka and sister of Mykhailo Drahomanov.

During her time in Volyn, Olena became fascinated by the local folk arts and traditions.   She recorded folk songs, folk customs and rites, and collected folk embroidery and pysanky in Volyn. She published her research as Ukraïns’kyi ornament (Ukrainian Ornamentation, 1876).

The illustration above is the last plate in that collection, and depicts 23 traditional Volynian pysanky. No further identification is given as to town or region of origin, but they probably come from the Novohrad-Volynskyi region where she lived.

  Volynian Pysanky        Symbolism


Olha Kosach, Volynian Ethnographer

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