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What Are Pysanky?

31. March 2010 by Michelle 0 Comments

Pysanky are Ukrainian Easter eggs!

Decorating eggs for Easter is a popular tradition in many cultures. However, Ukrainians are credited with perfecting this art form and sharing it with the world. There are several different types of Ukrainian Easter eggs, many legends and superstitions that surround them, as well as extensive symbolism of their decorations.


Pysanka is the common term used to describe any type of decorated egg, but it more specifically refers to those created by the wax-resist method. From the word meaning “to write”, pysanky are covered in designs of hot wax using a stylus. They are then dipped in colored dye, and more wax is written onto the eggs. This process is repeated several times, until a candle flame is used to melt the wax, revealing the multiple colors of the design.


Krashanky, from the word meaning “to decorate”, are eggs dyed a single color. Krapanky, meaning “a dot”, are eggs decorated with the wax-resist method but only using dots for decoration. Drypanky, “to scratch”, are created by scratching the surface of a dyed egg, and Malyovanky, “to paint”, and painted with a brush using oils or water colors. There is also the Lystovky, meaning “leaves”, which are dyed eggs that are covered with small leaves.


The Ukrainian tradition of worshipping eggs began in ancient times when birds were god’s chosen creatures. Since people couldn’t catch the birds, they would obtain their eggs and they became a magical symbol of life. The practice of decorating eggs became so important that some Ukrainians believed that the fate of the world depended upon the pysanka. If the custom was ever abandoned, a horrible, evil serpent would overrun the world.


Additional legends and superstitions involve the power of pysanky. They protect homes from evil spirits and natural disasters, plus the cloth used to dry them can cure skin diseases. The egg shell has to be finely ground up and fed to chickens or tossed into a stream, or else witches will get a hold of them and use them for evil.


There are even superstitions surrounding the colors and designs used for the eggs. One old Ukrainian myth suggests giving older people pysanky with darker colors, signifying their life has been filled, while giving younger people white or lighter colored eggs since they have much more living to do. A wide variety of designs and colors are used today, but a traditional theme of red and brown eggs are often seen. Red is the magical color of folklore, representing the sun and the joy of life and love. Brown represents Mother Earth and all of her bountiful gifts.


The designs also have special meanings, such triangles for the Holy Trinity, diamonds for knowledge, curls for protection, and spirals for divinity and immortality. If you want to admire thousands of these artistic eggs during your next trip to Ukraine, visit The Pysanka Museum in Kolomyia! 

The Pysanka Museum in Ukraine!

Ukrainian women are creating these beautiful works of art all week long, in order to have plenty to give as gifts on Easter Sunday. Make sure to congratulate your favorite Ukrainian brides this Sunday, and don't forget about the special promotion of discounted video streaming!