Home of Cheese Horses
On the table on both sides of Maria Petriv there is a basin with salt water, a basin with a large head of cheese, a few bowls, and in front of them there is an electric stove on which a pan is steaming. The cheese is heated there to become plastic enough to be molded. Mrs. Maria is a craftswoman from Brustury, the Ukrainian capital of horses made of cheese.
Despite the gloomy day, the room is quite light. All thanks to the large triangular window behind the master. You can notice carefully arranged books, newspapers and magazines with some mentions about Mrs. Maria, on its windowsill. Those pages show a woman demonstrating her products and talking about them in an interview. Her husband, Mr. Vasyl, invites you to view this mini-exhibition of publications and comments on the photos with pride, as if he were not a guide but a promoter. He also tells us about all the titles and medals of his wife, as if listing boxing belts in all possible categories and associations.
His godmother, so-called nanashka, taught Mrs. Maria the craft of sculpting horses out of cheese 33 years ago. At first the woman did not succeed, but eventually began to master in this field.
The master says that the cheese should be heated so that it looks like plasticine. He says that according to the legends the first cheese horse was made by the blinded shepherds who grazed cattle on the meadow. While they were cooking cheese, one of its pieces fell into a cauldron and softened. A shepherd took it out and realized that the cheese was stretching, so he decided to make a gift out of this cheese to his wife, that was waiting for his return home. First, a man (because there were no women among the shepherds) created something simple, a roll, and only then learned to sculpt more complex shapes. And so, one day a cheese horse, that later become a traditional, appeared thanks to this man.
This act of sculpting is very capacious and multi-layered. He appeals to so many important creative practices and beliefs. For example, to demiurge, because soft cheese is similar not only to plasticine, but also to clay. However, in this case, everything is much more interesting, because cheese is an eatable product. Therefore, what you make, you can consume. And in some ancient beliefs in totem-anime times, man could adopt the traits or gain the power of the beast by eating it, either symbolically or entirely. Life in the mountains is difficult, you have to work furiously, work hard if you want to get something. So, it is not surprising that the most popular model for cheese products was the horse, without which it is impossible to imagine the life of Hutsuls.
Mrs. Maria says that people often order whole cakes with cheese horses for various events: weddings (with essential cheese figurines of the bride and groom), christenings, birthdays, etc .. And sometimes relatives want to gift large edible figurines, and then not only horses but also chickens (because what kind of life without a farmstead) and other birds (because what is life without a song?) or fish (perhaps, as a symbol of the Christian faith) come into play.
On one of the walls in the next room hangs a poster that looks like a wall newspaper. It depicts the houses in which the Petriv family is involved. It is noticeable that houses are a sacred theme for this family. That is why this house was created with such love and meticulousness to make it easier for Mrs. Maria to work.
There is a portrait next to in the technique of lenticular printing, in which the photograph of Mrs. Maria from another angle is replaced by a photograph of her husband.
Mrs. Maria says that many children from Brustur are happy to come to her for a master class. However, her daughter Khrytyna also says that she wants to do it when she grows up. She is not able yet to make complex figures, but she helps her mother, for example, she does well with modeling rolls. And the roll is a symbol of infinity and eternal duration. So Mrs. Maria’s vocation will be up to someone to continu