Feb 5, 2024 | Research

Time Travel to Bukovyna

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Let us explore some unique pictures that will take us back in time. They were taken by the French family of photographers, researchers, and historians Jacqueline and Rene Bénézech who had a tour of Bukovyna villages that are in Ukraine today. Here is the list with the links to find those villages on the map:

Jacqueline and Rene Bénézech
Jacqueline and Rene Bénézech

It’s a chance to experience the past. If your roots come from these villages or you research your genealogy in Bukovyna, Ukraine, it’s a possibility to feel what your ancestors’ life was like.

The photos you can see below are stored in the collection of the museum that I would love to visit one day: Le musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac in Paris. The trip took place in June 1932 but it’s still the way to see what life in this part of Ukraine was like in the 19th century and earlier.

Jacqueline and Rene Bénézech in Roztoky
Jacqueline and their travel partner “Zaloziecki” in the village of Roztoky. The photo was taken by Rene. Le musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac photo collection, #PP0202136

Have a look at the people in the photo below. It was taken in Roztoky. It’s very interesting to pay attention to such details as wooden shingles on the roof, the traditional vests made of sheep skin (worn in June?!), embroidery patterns and long shirts, the carbatina shoes, the elaborate shoes of the young musician playing traditional “tsymbaly” instrument and other. Most men are wearing traditional Hutsul mustaches.

Hutsuls in Roztoky
Hutsuls in Roztoky. Le musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac photo collection, # PP0218385

While some of these clothes were worn every day, I am sure they are still dressed up for the photo. It’s the time of the St. Trinity Holiday that’s in June, also called “Green Holidays”. I can see some branches that were and still are used as traditional Green Holiday decorations.

The next photo was taken in Roztoky too and it’s of particular interest as it shows the representatives of different classes of the local population which was a bit over 1000 people. You can see a priest, a teacher who’s standing next to the priest, and the farmers. The teacher’s wife is the 3rd person on the left. Jacqueline is in the middle and Rene is the 1st person on the left.

Group picture in Roztoky
In Roztoky. Le musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac photo collection, # PF0034820

The next photo was taken in the village of Revne. Only straw that was cut manually could be used for such a roof as the stalk would not be broken and would not leak. Do you see the strip painted with clay at the bottom of the wall? This way the house would not look dirty when covered with mud stains after the heavy rain. Everything is neat and tidy.

Household in Revna
House in Revne. Le musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac photo collection, # PF0034749

The close-up of the photo is below. What a beautiful girl! Look at the patterns around the door and the window. And the house number! That’s the one we look for in the cadastral maps and land records when we do genealogy research in western Ukraine and search for the location of the ancestral plots and houses in the village today.

Revna 1
Revne. Le musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac photo collection, # PF0034748

This is a nice solid well. You can also see a fragment of a fence that surrounded the household in this photo. It’s covered with a board protecting it from the rain. I can see quality and good work in many details of this household.

Revna
Revne. Le musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac photo collection, # PF0034748

Pay attention to the plant growing behind the well. It is hemp. It played a huge part in the lives of the local people for ages and I will tell you more about it in one of the future posts.

The following pictures were taken in Zastavna. The description of this photo says “A centenarian woman and a child in the cradle.”  

a centarian woman in Zastavna
Zastavna. Le musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac photo collection, # PF0054334
Zastavna
Zastavna in Bukovyna, Ukraine. Le musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac photo collection, # PF0034750
Cradle in Zastavna
Zastavna in Bukovyna, Ukraine. Le musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac photo collection, # PF0034751

These are the citizens of Vikno village:

Vikno citizens
Vikno in Bukovyna, Ukraine. Le musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac photo collection, # PF0034773

According to Jacqueline and Rene Bénézech, they are performing a Kozachok dance.

Kozachok in Vikno
Vikno in Bukovyna, Ukraine. Le musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac photo collection, # PF0034767
Kozachok in Vikno 2
Vikno in Bukovyna, Ukraine. Le musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac photo collection, # PF0034772

The next set of photos was taken in Malyi Kuchuriv village, probably after the marriage ceremony that took place in the local church at about the time of the St. Trinity Holiday. Just look at the outfits!

marriage in Malyi Kuchuriv
Malyi Kuchuriv in Bukovyna, Ukraine. Le musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac photo collection, # PF0034759
Malyi Kuchuriv
Malyi Kuchuriv in Bukovyna, Ukraine. Le musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac photo collection, # PF0034755
Malyi Kuchuriv 2
Malyi Kuchuriv in Bukovyna, Ukraine. Le musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac photo collection, # PF0034757
Malyi Kuchuriv 3
Malyi Kuchuriv in Bukovyna, Ukraine. Le musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac photo collection, # PF0034753
Malyi Kochuriv 4
Malyi Kuchuriv in Bukovyna, Ukraine. Le musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac photo collection, # PF0034753
Malyi Kochuriv 6
Malyi Kuchuriv in Bukovyna, Ukraine. Le musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac photo collection, # PF0034760
Malyi Kuchuriv 5
Malyi Kuchuriv in Bukovyna, Ukraine. Le musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac photo collection, # PF0054338

The photo above is my favorite. Being photographed was a stress then and not too many people smiled in these photos. It’s lovely to see the smiles on the faces of these girls. And just look at the baby!

If you like learning together, you can join me on at Patreon to support my efforts and let me share more discoveries with you. Sign up for our email list as well. 

May you have any questions about your family history in Bukovyna or elsewhere in the west of Ukraine, or need help with your genealogy research, feel free to reach out.

Love from Ukraine.

Andriy