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Let's talk Pysanky!

March 6, 2015

    It's high time to start getting ready for Easter, and here's the first of many Easter-inpired.
 

    Pysanky are bird eggs, decorated with miniature ornaments. The name comes from the word pysaty/писати (to write, paint), which relates to ornamental decoration. Easter eggs are usually decorated with geometric, floral, zoomorphic (fish, birds, animals, people), and landscape ornaments, as well as Christian symbols. Pysanka is one of the most ancient examples of Ukrainian folk art, in which our ancestors embodied their aspirations, beliefs and faith. Easter eggs are a symbol of spring, sun, rebirth of nature and life circle. Many peoples of the world revered this symbol and had their own attributes connected to it. In many ancient cultures an egg is presented as the source of life, light, the primordium of the whole world.

 

    So where does the tradition of decoration Easter eggs in Ukraine begin? Researches of archaeological expeditions of Trypillian culture (5-2 millennia BC.), show that the then ceramics have drawings very similar to the patterns of modern Ukrainian Easter eggs. In Ukraine Pysanky making became most prevalent in the times of Kyivan Rus (10-13 centuries).

 

    Introducing Christianity to Rus, the church successfully used pagan beliefs and folk customs, including the celebration of Easter as the awakening of spring, of all life on earth, coinciding with the Christian Easter celebrations in honor of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. A regular egg was easily broken, so in the Kyivan Rus craftsmen produced a large number of ceramic painted eggs, and this allowed many generations to admire them. Favorite decorative motive was the depiction of bright green grass, which first awakens after winter, announcing the arrival of spring. The favorite, most used colors were yellow and light green against a dark background, mostly brown or black.

 

    The Tatar-Mongolian invasion of Rus put a stop to the production of clay Ukrainian Easter eggs, which were previously exported to other countries. During this period, begins the gradual development of handmade Easter egg traditions, with art distribution by region. The earliest Easter eggs made with eggs, preserved in museums, date back to the second half of the 19th - early 20th centuries. They have the characteristic features of various regions of Ukraine.

    In Ukraine Easter Eggs have a ritual, symbolic, and decorative features. The ceremonial function refers to the celebration of the Easter Holiday. The celebratory Easter feast always began with the exchange of pysanky. They were presented as a token of respect, love and good wishes. Easter eggs were a kind of talisman in the house, so people tried to keep them in the house until the next Easter celebration. Nowadays pysanky are made from chicken, goose, even ostrich eggs. When it comes to decorative techniques, the first pysanky were called ‘krashanky’ - eggs painted in one color using vegetable dyes. In the late 19th century, along with krashanky people started making ‘driapanky’ and ‘maliovanky’. Draipanky were krashanky (eggs dyed in one color) and symbols and ornaments scratched with a needle or a metal rod. Malyovanky were pysanky decorated with a brush, rather than a wax kistka (special tool used for pysanka decorations). Often, craftsmen would combine several techniques decorating Easter eggs.

 

    Now there are various new techniques of decorating Easter eggs, symbols/colors/shapes vary not only from region to region, but from one village to another! 


    We'll tell you more about it all soon!

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