Lizhnyk and the other long-piled Ukarainian primitive rug the "kover or kots".
In the Ukraine a knotted long-piled rug tradition exists. Knotted rugs with long pile known as the kover or kots were woven in the Ukraine up to the nineteenth century, resembling Tulu from Anatolia and other eastern European long-piled rugs. A completely different technique is used to create the kover or kots by comparison to lizhnyk's woven by Hutsuls in the Carpathian mountains. The lizhnyk is a flat weave which is then felted by the action of water in a valylo. These two types of long-piled weavings from the Ukraine are so distinctly different, their early origins are brought into question. One has long knotted pile, the other felted faux long-pile. Knotted long-pile carpets known as the kover, kots, or koberets were described by Vasyleva in Embroidery of Polissya, Artistic Fabrics, Carpet-Making, "Kover, kots, koberets were fabrics with long sheared nap. In the process of their manufacture special knots of colored wool were tied to warp threads, with their subsequent shearing. Owing to that the pattern was created only on the right side. The pattern's character depended on the height and thickness of the nap." According to Vasyleva these long-piled weavings were used by the "well-to-do population" for wall decoration also serving as insulation. Vasyleva states that home production was to satisfy the needs of the general population with workshop production creating more expensive versions.1 The Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the Council of Europe advises that "kots are handmade in the western, mainly Hutsul region".2 Outside of the Ukraine these kots or kover long-piled knotted primitive rugs are almost unknown.
Confined today to the Carpathians, Nykorak contends that, "long - piled carpets" called lizhnyk were woven all over the Ukraine before the end of the 19th century. The kover or kots were also widespread throughout the Ukraine up to the end of the nineteenth century. Nykorak also refers to surviving lizhnyk production in the Carpathians, "before the end of the 19th century lizhnylc were spread and produced all over Ukraine, having survived in the Carpathians only."3 The valylo a key requirement in the creation of lizhnyk could be a factor in lizhnyk resurgence in the region. Architectural relics, valylo need to be in working order so that the fibres of the lizhnyk can be successfully matted.
Revival of lizhnyk production during the twentieth century is reminiscent of the story of siirt blankets produced in the province and town of Siirt in Eastern Turkey, as well as alpujarra inlaid loop pile rugs from the province of Granada Spain, all serving the tourist trade in their respective regions.
Once widespread throughout all of the Ukraine, the need for shaggy, warm woollen textiles was met by both home and workshop production. The kots or kover appears to have been relegated to the history books with production ceasing sometime late in the nineteenth century. The lizhnyk remaining a favourite with production continuing today, preserving along with it the practice of felting woven items with the action of water in a valylo.
Read more on Kots click here.
For further information on the valylo, you can also use the keyword Валило.
Thanks to T. Kara Vasyleva and Olеna Nykorak we can gain some further insight into the production of these obscure weavings.
1. T. Kara Vasylyeva Doctor of Science in Fine Arts Embroidery of Polissya, Artistic Fabrics, Carpet-Making
"Carpets produced at home were aimed at satisfaction of population's needs. The first guild organizations emerged in Ukrainian towns in the XIV-XV centuries, in the XVI-XVII centuries their activity reached its peak, and since the XVIII century weaving manufactories [sic] started to develop actively. They emerged on the basis of carpet-making workshops, which were attached to landowners' estates. At the olden [sic] times depending on the manufacturing technique and functional purpose carpet ware in Ukraine had different names: kover /carpet/, koberets, kots, nalavnyk /bench top cover/, kylym /carpet/, etc. The most ancient name is "kover", since the XVI century the names "kots", "lizhnyk" were spread. The name "kylym" /the present Ukrainian word for "carpet"/ appeared in Ukraine at the beginning of the XVII century. Kover, kots, koberets were fabrics with long sheared nap. In the process of their manufacture special knots of colored wool were tied to warp threads, with their subsequent shearing. Owing to that the pattern was created only on the right side. The pattern's character depended on the height and thickness of the nap. Such manufactured articles cost much, they were mostly used by well-to-do population for the purpose of heat insulation and decoration of walls. Lizhnyks made of coarse threads were very widespread. Nalavnyks - long narrow carpets having crosswise or lengthwise ornament - were also in demand. Carpets proper were used first of all to decorate the walls, as well as to cover tables, benches, chests. Weavers paid special attention to their ornamentation; it was the ornamentation that most fully showed the taste and the skill."
2. "Kots" The Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the Council of Europe. Web. 2 November 2011 http://www.mfa.gov.ua/coe/en/publication/content/294.htm
3. Olеna NYKORAK Shevchenko Scientific Society Lviv Traditional Ukrainian Lizhnykarstva 1995
"The 16-17th-century archival and other data give us evidence about the production of lizhnylcs (home woven thick woollen long-piled carpets) in the Ukrainian Carpathian region, Bukovyna, Volynia, Polissia, as well as in the Chernihiv, Kharkiv, and Kherson regions. On the basis provided by the field exploration data, gathered by the author herself, and the examination of the museum exhibits, the author contends that before the end of the 19th century lizhnylc were spread and produced all over Ukraine, having survived in the Carpathians only. Since the turn of the 20th century in Hutsulshchyna, and since the middle of this century, in Boikivshchyna, the koverets (a patterned lizhnyk) came into production alongside with the achromatic, polychromatic, striped and one-colour lizhnyks, already in common use. Its most characteristic patterns are geometrical: transversely striped, net-like, and medallion-shaped. Nowadays the most ingenious compositions of lizhnyks and lizhnyk-like chair-covers are designed after typical Hutsul embroideries and cloths."