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Pysanky (писанки) - Ukrainian Easter Eggs

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Pysanky (писанки) - Ukrainian Easter Eggs
    Posted: 16 October 2013 at 13:13
This article from Wikipedia summarises pysanky:
 
Quote A pysanka (Ukrainian: писанка, plural: pysanky) is a Ukrainian Easter egg, decorated with traditional Ukrainian folk designs using a wax-resist (batik) method. The word pysanka comes from the verb pysaty, "to write", as the designs are not painted on, but written with beeswax.
 
Many other eastern European ethnic groups decorate eggs using wax resist for Easter. These include the Belarusians (пісанка, pisanka), Bulgarians (писано яйце, pisano yaytse), Croats (pisanica), Czechs (kraslice), Hungarians (hímestojás), Estonians (lihavõtteks), Lithuanians (margutis), Latvians (lieldienu olas), Poles (pisanka), Romanians (ouă vopsite, incondeiate or impistrite), Serbs (pisanica), Slovaks (kraslica), Slovenes (pisanica, pirhi or remenke) and Sorbs (jejka pisać).
 
The article goes into great detail about the history, traditions and making of pysanky, so it is well worth the read. I've had some interest in this subject eggs for a long time, and they may have been a tradition of my wife's grandmother's childhood in Slovakia - we'll probably never know. Because of this long-held interest, I was pretty enthusiastic this past spring when the new pastor at our church announced her intention to teach the children how to make pysanky for Easter. My youngest son, Roger, was one of the children who learned to make them; he had a lot of fun learning about them, and I'd have to say that he did quite well for his first try:
 
 
Interestingly, the Wikipedia article goes into some detail about the intended meaning behind the colours and symbols on pysanky:
 
Quote A great variety of ornamental patterns are found on pysanky. Because of the egg’s fragility, no ancient examples of pysanky have survived. However, similar design motifs occur in pottery, woodwork, metalwork, Ukrainian embroidery and other crafts, many of which have survived.
 
The symbols which decorated pysanky underwent a process of adaptation over time. In pre-Christian times these symbols imbued an egg with magical powers to ward off evil spirits, guarantee a good harvest and bring a person good luck. After 988, when Christianity became the state religion of Ukraine, the interpretation of many of the symbols began to change.
 
The names and meaning of various symbols and design elements vary from region to region, and even from village to village. Similar symbols can have totally different interpretations in different places. There are several thousand different motifs in Ukrainian folk designs. They can be grouped into several families.
 
Looking at the ones my son made is a good opportunity to learn about some of those traditions; the Wiki article discusses the lines and symbols at great length - probably too long to be enumerated here at this point - but here is a rundown of what the various colours can mean:
 
 
Quote Each region of Ukraine had its characteristic palette of symbols, patterns, motifs, and colors. Generally speaking, though, certain meanings were associated with the following colors:
  • White - Signified purity, birth, light, rejoicing, virginity.
  • Yellow - The symbol of light and purity. It signified, youth, love, the harvest and perpetuation of the family. It is the color consecrated to the light deities, and the sun, stars, and moon. It is the Christian symbol of reward and recognition.
  • Gold - Spirituality, wisdom.
  • Orange - The symbol of endurance, strength, and ambition. The color of a flame represented passion tempered by the yellow of wisdom. It is also the symbol of the everlasting sun.
  • Pink - Success, contentment.
  • Green - The color of fertility, health, and hopefulness; of spring, breaking bondage, freshness, and wealth. In the Christian era it represented bounty, hope, and the victory of life over death. Green is [also] the color of Christmas, Easter, and the Epiphany.
  • Red - The magical color of folklore signifying action, charity, and spiritual awakening. It also represented the sun and the joy of life and love. Pysanky with red fields or motifs are often given to children. In the Christian era it represents the divine love and passion of Christ, hope, passion, blood, fire, and the ministry of the church.
  • Blue - Represented blue skies or the air, and good health, truth, and fidelity.
  • Purple - Represented fasting, faith, trust, and patience.
  • Brown - Represented Mother Earth and her bountiful gifts; earth, harvest, generosity.
  • Black - Represented constancy or eternity, the center of the Earth, the darkest time before dawn. Black also signified death, fear, and ignorance.

Some color combinations had specific meanings, too:

  • Black and white - Mourning, respect for the souls of the dead.
  • Black and red - Ignorance arising from passions.
  • Red and White - Respect, protection from evil powers.
  • Four or more colors - Family happiness, peace and love.
     
    These talismanic meanings applied to traditional pysanky with traditional designs. Since the mid-19th century, pysanky have been created more for decorative reasons than for the purposes of magic, as the belief in such practices has fallen by the wayside....

As I learn more about this fascinating tradition, I'll be sure to post - this next year, I may even try my hand at the art of making pysanky....

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AK1 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AK1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 October 2013 at 14:42
I still remember when I was in grade 3-4 one of the girls in my class was Ukranian and brought some to school for show and tell. I've still remembered that 40+ yrs later.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Effigy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 October 2013 at 23:27
Something similar here AK1
I have treasured this book for nearly 40 years - I just LOVE the cover


I like the recipes too - but  it is that picture I adore; Oddly - I have never attempted to do dyed eggs.... I should, one day.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 October 2013 at 09:33
Yep - I have the same book, Anne ~ it's impossible to pick a favourite. Sometimes I think I spend more time looking at the cover than at the recipes inside! Embarrassed
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