Cossack Warriors Are Back

October 6, 2009 Updated: January 27, 2012
Young Ukrainians demonstrate the skills of traditional Cossack warriors at the 'Virtuous Cossacks in 2009 festival in Pirogovo, Ukraine on Oct. 3. (Vladimir Borodin/The Epoch Times)
Young Ukrainians demonstrate the skills of traditional Cossack warriors at the 'Virtuous Cossacks in 2009 festival in Pirogovo, Ukraine on Oct. 3. (Vladimir Borodin/The Epoch Times)

Cossacks warriors from the past danced and fought at the Combative Hopak Festival in Pirogovo, Ukraine on Oct. 3.

Cossacks were a formidable military force in the 16th century. They were considered the protectors of the Ukrainian people.

At the “Virtuous Cossacks in 2009” festival, modern-day Ukrainians reproduced scenes from centuries ago when young Cossacks and their mentors once demonstrated their physical strength, agility, and skills at using different weapons through a traditional Ukrainian dance called the “Hopak.”

Hundreds of years ago, the Hopak was used by Cossacks as a training exercise as well as a means of showcasing their warrior skills.

A Ukrainian man dons an authentic Cossack hairdo, smokes a time period pipe, and wears traditional pants complete with pistol tucked in his belt. (Vladimir Borodin/The Epoch Times )
A Ukrainian man dons an authentic Cossack hairdo, smokes a time period pipe, and wears traditional pants complete with pistol tucked in his belt. (Vladimir Borodin/The Epoch Times )

Craftsmen such as blacksmiths, artists, and musicians also attended the festival, bringing Ukraine’s cultural roots back life.

To join the Cossack army, one had to be well-disciplined, meeting a high moral and physical standard. The army also accepted into its ranks men from foreign communities such as Greeks, Turks, Germans, and Tatars as long as they met one requirement: They had to believe in Christ.