With the Easter season upon us, many Ukrainians are preparing for the holiday, and putting together their Easter basket

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But where do the baskets
come from?

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Many families have a basket passed down through generations, tucked away and brought out each year for Easter. But before the years of mass production, when you could buy a basket in the supermarket or home ware store, baskets were carefully hand made. 

If you visit the Kosiv Bazar at Easter time, you’ll see many baskets for sale. 

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Ask a vendor where they come from, and they’ll say “Iza”.

Iza baskets you say?

Not they’re not saying “Easter”, they’re telling you a name – the village of Iza

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The villagers of Iza in Transcarpathia region have been weaving baskets for many generations. They create baskets and many other goods out of withe.

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The first written references to the village of Iza date from as far back as 1387! And the village has been known as the center of basket weaving since the 19th century.

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The first known master craftsman of basket weaving was Ivan Kashko. He taught his sons the craft, and they began to sell all kinds of products from the vine. Over time, this became the main craft of all the residents of Iza.

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Their process begin in the summer – all the villagers plant withe in their vegetable gardens, then on the “Feast of the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God” or “Pokrov” in the fall, the entire village harvests the withe. 

After the vine is harvested, it is processed – cut, boiled, cleaned, dried, and dyed. Then, the weaving begins. Locals weave baskets of different shapes and sizes, but also weave chairs, cabinets, chairs, tables, plates, coasters and much more. 

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Nowadays, the streets of Iza look like an open-air museum: most locals exhibit their wares along the road and on their fences. Almost every household is involved in weaving baskets.

In the middle of the village, there is an improvised sales center – a small bazaar. Tourists can buy local crafts here, and artisans can buy raw materials for their work. If you can’t get to Iza, you can buy their baskets at other big markets in Western Ukraine, or even on the internet!

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Everyone can become a craftsman in Iza. The residents learned to weave from childhood here.

This wonderful sense of community is prevalent here in Iza. Despite the fact that the whole village is engaged in the same craft, there is no competition among the locals. Local people live as a community: they share experiences with each other, help and share their own secrets. They learn from each other’s skills, share weaving techniques, and stories about how weaving appeared in Iza.

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Come and visit the village of Iza, and take a workshop in all stages of basket making. Or just think of this unique village when you make up your Easter basket this year. 

 

Learn to make a traditional basket, and discover ancient traditions with us on our Easter in Ukraine Tour.

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 April 27-May 11, 2021

15 days | 14 nights