Dukach and Zgarda: Ukrainian traditions in details


Recently boxes of jewelry fans more often are filled with ancient decorations – dukachs and zgardas. They are quite beautiful and very original. But let’s see what they symbolize.

Dukach – a women’s decoration in form of coins. They were one of the most popular jewelry Ukrainian women wear from seventeenth to twentieth century.


History of Dukach is very interesting and goes back to the time when the Cossacks went into the service in Austria-Hungary, Sweden, France, and were paid by they Thalers or gold coins.

Sometimes, instead of coins Cossacks received commemorative medals, by weight corresponding the weight of gold coins. Those medals were made by best masters of Western Europe, for example, the German medallist Sebastian Dadler employed by the courts of Saxony, Sweden and Poland.


In Bukovina this silver coin was called salba. Traditionally, the godfather gave her goddaughter such coin on her first birthday. She had to keep a gift, wearing in mostly on holidays.

In the eastern Ukrainian lands women inserted into a Dukach large metal bow decorated with enamel and stones.

On the Left-bank Ukraine Dukachs were worn on chainlets along with cross, silver beads or buttons.

In the Western regions of Ukraine silver coins were often replaced by enameled or metal icons and crosses.

Dukachs were most popular in Chernihiv, Poltava provinces and Sloboda Ukraine. In Poltava Dukachs had religious content on both sides and were given as present for the wedding. Sometimes decorations would have portraits, mainly of Empress Elizabeth and Catherine the Great.

Zgardas – hutsul pagan amulets.


These decoration are unique witnesses of traditions survived among the people of the Carpathians, lasted till this day keeping their power, a real treasure not only for ethnographers, but also for fans of the national decorations.


Zgardas – talismans in form of cross, Teutonic or Maltese. Though it was believed that zgarda – is not purely Christian cross, therefore they are considered pagan. At the time Church treated Zgardas rather unfriendly. Therefore, women wore them as pectorals, in several pieces to avoid suspicion. Men wore a Zgarda ring.

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Large Zgarda with a crucifix was called “Hazdivska”. Such Zgardas were worn by “Hazdas” – wealthy and respectable peasants.

Masters of TM Skifska Etnika create Zgardas and  Dukachs as in ancient times, according to centuries-old traditions.

Online store Belaya Tserkov, Ukraine – www.skifska-etnika.com