For Ukrainian ladies, Easter is coming this weekend. The day will involve time spent with family, indulging in special holiday traditions and for many, exchanging the intricately decorated eggs known as pysanky.
Pysanky writing is a craft which is passed down through generations, with older relatives teaching younger how to achieve the gorgeous and complex patterns. Creating a pysanka takes several painstaking hours and requires planning and attention to detail.
The pysanka writer starts by using a copper-nibbed pen called a kistka to apply melted beeswax to the portions of the egg that he or she wants to stay white. The wax forms a barrier that prevents dye from adhering wherever it is placed.
The artist will then dip the egg into the lightest color of dye, usually yellow. He will then apply wax to the parts he wishes to stay yellow before dipping the egg into the next color of dye. This process is repeated for each of the colors with a darker color used each time. The eggs need to dry completely between steps; many artists will choose to work on several eggs at a time.
When the egg has been dipped in all of the colors, it’s held over a candle flame to melt off the wax and reveal the intricate geometric patterns and vivid colors below.
Most pysanka makers spend several years improving their technique. They start with basic geometrics and learn how to make more elaborate patterns and images over the years.
The colors and symbols on a pysanka have special significance. Young people are given light colored eggs, since their lives are a blank slate. Older people are given eggs of darker color to symbolize the richness of their experiences. Young couples are often given eggs decorated with birds and farmers might receive eggs covered in depictions of wheat.
Every region of Ukraina has its own particular symbols and traditions for pysanky, which are passed down through families to preserve the family’s heritage.
Does your favorite lady’s family take part in pysanky traditions?
Photo: WikiCommons contributor Luba Petrusha