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Magic of Ukrainian Motanka Dolls

Meet one of the most amazing Ukrainian symbols - Motanka Doll ("лялька-мотанка").

Ukrainian Motanka Dolls. Ukrainian Culture. Yana Dereza
"Мотанка" from the verb "мотати" - "to roll". These dolls are collected without sewing.

Ukrainian Motanka Dolls are a type of traditional folk doll that has been handmade in Ukraine for centuries (scientists say that the first motankas could appear more than 5000 years ago!)


Motanka dolls are often created as talismans and are believed to have protective and healing properties. They are commonly given as gifts to newborns, newlyweds, and those in need of comfort or protection. Modern Motankas are real artworks that symbolize the wealth of Ukrainian culture.

Ancient Motanka doll, modern Motanka doll

The word "мотанка" translates to "rag doll" and refers to the doll's construction using fabric, embroidery, threads, and some other materials, but is collected without a needle. These dolls are unique in that they are typically made without any facial features or details, and there are two theories why: 1 - evil spirits cannot inhabit the doll without facial features, and 2 - kids won't absorb any emotions from the doll. Instead, there was a white empty face or solar cross from threads, which symbolizes Sun.

Ukrainian Culture, Motanka, Solar Cross

Each Motanka doll is unique, with patterns and materials chosen to convey a specific message or intention. They can be made using a variety of fabrics, including linen, wool, and cotton, and are often adorned with ribbons, beads, and other embellishments. These dolls are not just objects of beauty but are deeply rooted in Ukrainian folklore and culture, serving as a symbol of the country's rich heritage and traditions.


I invite you to watch an interview with a famous Ukrainian Master of handmade Motanka Dolls Yana Dereza (@motankadolls on Instagram) in Ukrainian (with subtitles in multiple languages). In this video, we will discuss:


🔹 the origin of Motanka dolls

🔹 their functions for our ancestors and for the modern people

🔹 role of Motankas in the Ukrainian culture

🔹 why do Ukrainian Motankas not have facial features

🔹 why Motankas almost always portray women

🔹 what is the process of creation of Motanka dolls

🔹 who mostly orders Motankas nowadays

🔹 why more Ukrainians started to order Motanka dolls during the war

We will appreciate it if you repost this article or the YouTube video on your social networks. It will help more people to find out about the beautiful Ukrainian culture! :)

Thank you for learning the Ukrainian language in VERBA school!

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