Footwear. No examples of prehistoric footwear have been preserved in Ukraine, although a type of shoe extending above the ankle is represented on the Trypilian clay female figurines unearthed at the Koshylivtsi settlement (see Trypilian culture). During the Middle Ages Ukrainians wore linen foot-cloths (onuchi) or woolen socks (kopyttsia), which were manufactured by the monks of the Kyivan Cave Monastery, and, over these, shoes (chereviie), cut from one piece of soft belly hide, or boots (sapohy), made of better leather and reinforced with metal heel clips. In the villages of the northern forest belt the peasants wore bast shoes (lychaky) instead of boots. The upper classes wore red or green boots made of kid leather (sapiantsi) and sewn with gold thread. The shoes of upper-class ladies were decorated with golden thread. In the Cossack period the footwear of wealthy individuals was particularly ornate, perhaps because of Eastern influences.
Until recent times Ukrainian peasants, men and women, wore almost identical linen or woolen foot-cloths. Sometimes woven wool socks were worn (eg, kapchuri among the Hutsuls), some decorated with designs. In Galicia, the town of Uhniv was known for the manufacture of archaic footwear. In Polisia the primitive bast shoes continued to be worn until the 20th century. The bast shoes and the popular heavy shoes (postoly, khodaky) made of thick hide were homemade. In the second half of the 19th century the peasants began to order boots from the local shoemakers or more frequently purchased them at markets and fairs. With time they began purchasing women's shoes as well, and the form of these shoes changed to resemble the West European form (shoes on high heels). With industrial development in the 19th century, the population of the cities and towns to a large extent abandoned traditional dress and footwear and began to use factory-made footwear (see Footwear industry). After the Revolution of 1917 urban-type footwear, manufactured by small craftsmen and in factories, displaced the old, indigenous footwear among the peasants, but supplies were so short that peasant women and children continued to go barefoot.
Encyclopedia of Ukraine