The market in Kosiv is like politics and love at the same time, because everyone who has heard of it has an idea of its ideal image, and can also argue about what it should be like.
The market in Kosiv is a living legend. Like a rock star who is revered, adored, but who has been predicted for many years to have a career of the oblivion. Like, its best days are long gone, so it’s time to tie up and not spend more than a decade with a farewell tour like Scorpions or, for Christ’s sake, Poplavsky.
But of course, no one wants the end of the Kosiv market epoch. Because it’s more than just a place. It is more than just a time. It’s more than meeting Saturday dawns among a crowd. It is an intersection. The golden ratio: artistic and secular, folk and authorial, kitsch and original, Hutsul and Chinese, souvenir-mass and individual, cheating and bargaining. And the ratio is so perfect, made with such a light skillful hand, that these, often mutually exclusive things, not only do not mess with each other, but perfectly complement each other, contrasting and reinforcing each other.
“The market is not the same. Here before! … », – a man can hear this at the market. And by this “before” everyone understands something of their own. Depends on what someone has heard. And that sacred “before” extends from Grandmother Austria to the late Soviets. And if in the first case it is more about scale, then in the second about opportunities, that is, about scarce goods and exotics from the countries of the socialist camp, about bargains against the background of a total lack of everything.
However, like any nostalgia, the sadness of a lost market paradise is not devoid of diminutions and exaggerations. Although, when you look at the pictures of Henryk Poddembsky, taken in 1936 and 1938, the crowds of people are impressive. They impress not only with their number, but also with their variety. Carousel between the crowd. You can see as larger and smaller groups were flocking to the city from the mountains and valleys. How festively people are dressed, whether someone is barefoot, but all of them are united by one thing – the need for a market, so it is noticeable how the whole of Kosiv is becoming a continuous market.
Yes, the market does not have such a scale now. There is no international trade, and along with it – such an intensive atmosphere. There are no guests from different parts of the Habsburg Empire and interwar Poland who came here for a holiday (although guests from different countries still visit this place). There is no such exotic. There is no such early or late beginning of the action. There are no wonders of colonial goods, or rather – there are goods, but they no longer make that miraculous impression. There is no childish delight experienced by people who first saw and could embrace cinnamon or perfume with all their senses.
The Kosiv market is filled with the desire to convey the beauty that local masters contemplate every day. With their works, they prefer to raise it to the height of the mountains and even higher, so that those works can follow the buyers-travelers to cross the hills and tell the luxury of Hutsulia to people on the other side. And the Kosiv market, where artists and tourists come, is the point where people can get such artifacts. But it’s not only about buying something, but also a unique chance to chat directly with the masters and craftswomen themselves, as if with artists at the opening of the exhibition. To understand and feel the fullness of the power of what is in your hands. To return home, to see in that object not only a souvenir from a mountain expedition, but also to feel the skill and creative power of the artist who made this miracle. And to remember their smile or saying, with which they wished good luck totheir customers.
The legendary local rock band “Hutsuls” has a song “Afyny”(blackberries) that is dedicated to this important for the people of Kosiv topos:
There is a big fair in Kosovo on Sunday Afynys you are carrying are the sweetest in the world Hey, buy afynys, afynys, afynys, buy! Fair as a holiday every Sunday
That is cheerfully mowing towards Hutsulland Buy ducks, pigs and calves Boys and girls, buy grains Postols, sardaki, shirts and necklaces
Buy сassettes, hey, buy trunks, Come to Kosiv The pearl of the Hutsuls It will greet you
As best friends Hey, buy afynys, afynys, afynys,buy!
And it doesn’t matter if the market is on Saturday or Sunday, as it was before. Do they still sell Armenian boots or chocolate from Italy? It does not matter that many of these products, even from local craftsmen, can be bought not only from resellers in Yaremche or Lviv, but also online with home delivery.
The day of the week changes, people and the time of the beginning change, but the Kosiv Market as a space, as a point of intersection of artistic and trade energy, remains unchanged. Till the market, like a true legend, finally sells something for its last guest at noon. Then it goes back to return with the fog to the shores of Rybnitsa the following Saturday dawn.
However, it is important that it exists. It is important to know that it has survived more than one war and more than one type of authority, albeit with temporary pauses. It is important to know that somewhere between the mountains there is this island of stability. This whirlpool of beauty. The intertwining of bad and good taste. That, as the Hutsuls sing, it is possible to come to Kosiv at dawn and find yourself on the edge of this sea of various shops. And find everything you need.
Yes, not such an impressive one as in the times of Grandmother Austria or in the interwar. But you cannot return the past. Although you can buy a little past. And something for the future too. Right there, in the market in Kosiv.
Yes, not such a huge range of products. You can buy only cheese, embroideries, goats, dried mushrooms, ducks, carpets, rolls for weight loss, necklaces, cats, lizhnyks, liqueurs, zapaskas, drymbas, makitras, dogs, baskets, zgardas, candlesticks, kumanets, guslyanka, breadbaskets, sheep socks, jugs, bells, leather bags, shepherd’s axes, cheese and homemade cheese horses, trembitas, hats, handkerchiefs, postols, whistles, keptars, plates, wine and chereses. And dozens of other items. For all occasions of life and death, because you can choose a gift for christening here as well as buy some tombstones and coffins.