Kolomyika [kolomyjka]. The most popular form of Ukrainian folk ditty. It consists usually of two rhyming lines with a set rhythmic pattern: a 14-syllable line with feminine ending and a caesura after the eighth syllable (4 + 4 + 6). Kolomyiky are widespread throughout Ukraine. The Carpathian Hutsul region, however, is considered their epicenter, and the name is believed to be derived from the Hutsul city of Kolomyia.

Tens of thousands kolomyiky have been transcribed and published. The oldest transcriptions are in 16th-century compilations of songs for the lute. The oldest written text—‘Chy ia tobi nemovyla, ne bery voloshky’ (‘Didn't I Tell You, Don't Take a Wallachian Girl’)—is found in a 1659 Polish letter from M. Zamoyska to King Jan III Sobieski. Thousands of kolomyiky were written down and studied in the 19th century by Ukrainian and Polish ethnographers (Zorian Dołęga-Chodakowski, Platon Lukashevych, Pavlo Chubynsky, Yakiv Holovatsky, Volodymyr Shukhevych, and others). The largest number (8,622) is in Volodymyr Hnatiuk's Kolomyiky (3 vols, 1905–7). N. Shumada and Z. Vasylenko's Kolomyiky (1969) contains 4,814 texts and 452 melodies.

Kolomyiky treat literally every facet of everyday folk life, both familial and social, in a humorous fashion. Kolomyiky were one of the few folk-song genres improvised in Soviet Ukraine. These versions, however, while also heavily propagandistic, were often similar to the Russian chastushka and were studied in the Soviet Union with the latter as one genre, downplaying the uniquely Ukrainian character of the kolomyiky.

Kolomyika is also the name of a mimetic circular Hutsul dance in 2/4 time, of which there are many variants.

Mykola Mushynka

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 2 (1989).]

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