народна майстер України
folk art master of Ukraine


Kharkiv, UKRAINE
Since war started, being herself in constantly bombed district of Kharkiv city, Marina together with her pupils created more than 2000 motanka dolls for different charity projects.



Багряна осінь


Crimson autumn


Ще в 2009 році, побувавши на ярмарку в нашому Криму, захопилася лялькою. Вона мене захопила своєю красою. Вивчала історію виникнення ляльки, дивилась різні відео і самостійно опанувала створення ляльки. Вже три роки, як народний майстер України. Без ляльки вже не можу існувати. В ній мої думки, бажання, захист, любов.


I fell in love with motanka dolls back in 2009, after visiting a fair in our Crimea. Motanka captivated me with her beauty. I studied the history of the doll, watched various videos and learned to create motanka dolls by my own. I am a folk art master, People’s Master of Ukraine for three years. I can no longer exist without a motanka doll, we are closely related now. My thoughts, desires, protection, love in motanka dolls.
These pictures shows:

1) These are our 1st classes with my pupils after the war started. We gathered at my flat and made such angels. Lot-lot of angels.

Це наші перші заняття, коли я жила у сина в квартирі. Робили таких янголів дуже багато.

2) We made master-classes at metro. Metro is serving as a bomb-shelter and lot of families with children lived in metro at the 1st weeks of war. After master-class children did not let us go for a long time.
Ми проводили майстерки в метро, де жили сім’ї з дітьми. Вони довго нас не відпускали. Видно по фото, як дівчинка не випускає мою Маргаритку.
3) The photo of my motanka doll near my damaged school. We were happy that after bombing school was almost intact, only the windows are broken.
Фото ляльки є біля пошкодженою моєю школою. Головне вона ціла, тільки вікна розбиті.
”Fighting” dolls. They will protect soldiers from the enemy
Translation of Article of Natalia Merkulova
March 21st – International Puppeteer Day. On this day, actors-puppeteers and master puppeteers are honored around the world.
Today this article about Ukrainian folk doll makers who, during the war, united and helped the Armed Forces of Ukraine. They are getting closer to Victory by creating Motanka dolls.
Honoured folk master of Ukraine Marina Dubrovska from Kharkiv, together with the children-pupils from the creative group she leads, make folk dolls for fundraising to support warriors of Armed Forces of Ukraine. The smallest master from this creative group from Kharkiv, who creates protective angel for our defenders, is six years old.
The magic of Ukrainian motanka-doll.
Once Marina Dubrovska occasionally visited a fair in Sudak near the famous fortress in Ukrainian Crimea. There she suddenly saw a folk doll around different nice handicrafts. And fell in love! At first glance – in a Ukrainian motanka. It was some kind of magic. A doll with an “empty” face radiated dynamics and had own personality and character. And such a emotional power!
This is how the journey of Marina Dubrovska into Ukrainian folk puppetry began.
“I bought that doll,” she says. – And I got excited to make such a doll myself. It seemed to me that it would not be too difficult, although I had never done motanka before. By profession, I am a seamstress-technologist. I sew and model clothes of any complexity. I have been embroidering and crocheting since childhood – my aunt taught me. But at that time I didn’t know that it was not only about the doll’s clothes.
 Kharkiv motanka doll master Valentina Myroshnyk* helped me to open the motanka as a sacred symbol of Ukrainian spirituality. She became my godmother in puppetry and my first teacher in making a folk doll. Undoubtedly, it is the clothes that create a unique image of a folk doll and fill it emotionally. But only sincere feelings and sincere wishes of the master, who creates it, can breathe life into a doll. Then the motanka doll gets a powerful magical protective power to protect the person, family and the home.
The face of a folk doll is the Universe
The craftswoman teaches this to children in group classes, where she teaches them folk puppetry. For more than 20 years, Marina Dubrovska has been working with children in the “Oksamyt” children’s club at her place of residence, which is a communal after-school educational institution.
And recently – also in the Palace of Children’s Creativity “Istok” of the Industrial district.
Motanka doll is created exceptionally by winding threads on the fabric from which the doll is formed, – the craftswoman shares her experience.
We make the doll according to direction from sunset – the thread always winds away from yourself. Nowhere is it said how many rounds it is necessary to make when forming a doll, so we always do it three times, because God loves the trinity.
At the heart of the Ukrainian Motanka doll is a cross-shaped figure. The head is made in a spiral, which symbolizes the infinity of existence, it is covered with a cloth and masters put their wishes, hopes, hopes for the best into it. The doll’s face is a solar sign, a sign of the Sun, which was considered the center of the universe and a symbol of life. The cross on the face of a folk doll is a symbol of a rainbow, which is formed from bright threads or ribbons, which is a symbol of life and a talisman.
According to Marina Dubrovska, before performing a folk amulet, one should pray, set one’s thoughts to the light, God. Then get to work.
We make a talisman doll with one thread. We start with this thread and end with it, – the craftswoman tells about the technique of winding. – You cannot cut the thread with scissors – only tear it off. You can’t use a needle either. Therefore, for children, we take thinner threads, twist them several times, we don’t even make knots, the movement is a ring, we tighten it on the head three times – and then we cut off the thread. A talisman doll comes out.
“Better than Barbie”
The Ukrainian folk doll has three types, – says puppeteer Marina Dubrovska.
 – Baby doll
 – Girl or bride doll
 – Woman or grandmother doll.
Mother made a talisman doll in the form of a female doll and hid it behind an icon as a protective amulet. Over time, the amulet doll became also a toy for children. For very young children, mothers often made a baby for them to play with. After all, the baby can be made faster, because it has no arms and is wrapped in a diaper. The girl doll and the woman doll are already made with hands.

During the making process a square of fabric goes to both the hands and the head. But there are dolls, where hands are made and sticked separately, instead of being made from one piece of fabric. Next step is to make a skirt, an apron and hair, if it is a girl-doll or if it is a woman, then the doll should have a scarf.
According to the folk craftswoman, traditionally in ancient times dolls were made with a white, round face in Slobozhanshchyna, Kharkiv region of Ukraine, where Marina Dubrovska lives. There were different traditions and rules for folk dolls in different regions of Ukraine in former times. Now there are no strict rules for it, only individual creativity process. Therefore now masters often decorate the face in the author’s doll with a colourful cross-talisman to match the colour of the dress, skirt, embroidery or jewellery, – Marina explains.
The author’s doll is an authentic folk doll, but more modern, created by today’s craftswoman’s imagination. So, the doll can have richly embroidered clothes, jewelry, corals, necklaces, etc.
The folk doll is an object of the cultural heritage of Ukraine
* You can see the motanka of Valentina Miroshnik at our exhibition too.