Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ukrainian Easter Eggs- "Pysanky"

Pysanky are Ukrainian Easter eggs, decorated using a wax-resist (batik) method.  The word, Pysanka, comes from a verb meaning : "to write" because the designs on Pysanky are written or drawn on the eggs with melted beeswax using stylists called "Krista."  The wax is not painted.  The word Pysanka specifically refers to an egg decorated with a traditional Ukrainian folk design.

My family is responsible for decorating the following Pysanky.  We were lucky to have cousins who learned this great art and taught us how much fun it is really is to decorate Easter eggs.  We haven't had much time in the past few years to make more Pysanky and are hoping to make time in the future to jump back into this amazing tradition.  It is true that the more you do, the better you get.

This happens to be a Pysanka that I made.  Traditionally, girls would give Pysanky with heart motifs to boys that they fancied.  I guess the lovebirds represent my husband and I!

This is another Pysanka that I made with a large star motif.  The "Sun and Star" motif stands for life, fortune, and growth.

The cross on this Pysanka represents the cross on which Jesus was crucified. The cross hatches represent nets.  In other words, Christ's reference to becoming "Fishers of Men."

The ribbons on this Pysanka represent everlasting life.  The seed pods represent rebirth, springtime!

This is one of my son made it when he was pretty little.  Curls represent defense or protection.  I am sure that's what he had in mind when he designed it.  We're calling it a Pysanka since it does meet the criteria for a traditional Ukrainian design, at least I think it's close enough!

This Pysanka was made by my husband.  It has a number of motifs:  Pine needles/boughs represent health, stamina, eternal youth.  The ribbon design represents everlasting life.  This egg also includes a life band, a band encircling the egg.

This Pysanka was made by my son when he was 8 years old.  He used a little more geometric design this time.  Of course, the crosses represent Christianity, the circles could be the earth.

Another favorite, this Pysanka was made by my daughter, long ago.  The triangles represent Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, or heaven, earth, and hell.

Decorating Pysanky is a wonderful family project.  The eggs are very time consuming, especially the more detailed eggs.  We were taught to decorate raw eggs, and let the inside of the eggs eventually dry out.  The only problem is if you accidentally break one after you have had it awhile.  Pretty smelly!  Sadly, this happened to a few of ours.  But, as you can see, quite a few made it and still look pretty good.  It is a fun way to prepare for Easter!

There are many websites that have "how to" books available to teach you how to make Pysanky along with the supplies that you need.   I encourage every family to give it a try.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter celebration!


  1. I think the triangle egg is the best... but I may be biased! :)

  2. Great article, beautiful pysanky thanks for showing the artistic talent.