Monday, April 9, 2012

Ukrainian Easter Eggs or Pysanky

Easter is gone for another year but with care these eggs will last for many years.

I was prompted to write this blog when first I heard a talk on CBC radio and then on Facebook I saw the beautiful eggs that a friend had made almost 20 years ago. I just had to know more about them.

Unlike our own pale colored eggs with what seems to be meaningless dots, squiggles and stripes (or maybe there is meaning behind those too?) the Ukrainian eggs are loaded with hidden messages expressed with Pre Christain symbols dating back to Pagan times.

Even the very deep coloring carries meaning.  I hope I will not be stepping on any copyrighted toes here if I copy this from the web while giving credit to the site under Sources below

"Motifs in designs are usually abstract representations of actual objects, creatures, etc.

prosperity, or prayer.
Pine Needles
health, stamina, eternal youth.
Christ, or the Four Corners of the World.
wishes for good health and a good harvest.
The Sun and Stars
life, fortune, growth.
Deer, Horses, and/or Rams
wealth and prosperity.
defense or protection.
love, caring.
beloved Ukrainian art motif, symbolizing joy and beauty.
trinities, eg.: air, fire, & water; the Father, Son, & Holy Spirit; heaven, earth, & hell.
The Saw
fire, life-giving heat (also known as Wolves' teeth, symbolizing loyalty and wisdom).
fulfillment of wishes, and fertility. The bird is always shown at rest, never flying.
Christ's reference to becoming "fishers of people".
everlasting life, and water.

Here are some of the symbolic meanings for colors used in decorating pysanky:
White--Purity, innocence and birth; Yellow--light, purity, happiness, hospitality; Orange--strength, endurance, the eternal sun; Black--eternity, darkest time before the dawn; Light Blue--the sky, with its life-giving air, good health; Light Green--spring, new growth and hope; Bright Red--happiness in life, hope, passion, the sun.

Sources: Ukrainian Design Book 1, Ukrainian Design Book 2, Eggs Beautiful

For further info on symbols and color meanings, check out Wikipedia

As you can imagine creating one of these eggs is a lengthy process but with care they can last many years as my friend's little clutch did.

I have copied the CBC information here and hope that you can hear the audio clip as well.

The art of writing Pysanky (Ukranian Easter eggs)

pysanky.jpgEvery Easter, we see them. Those colourful, intricately illustrated Ukrainian eggs. They're called pysanky. Those little drawings on the eggs; the flowers, lines and stars are actually symbols with very specific meanings. Although now pysanky are made to celebrate Easter, the tradition actually pre-dates Christianity.

Gerry Zerebecky lives in Saskatoon. She is a pysanky artist and enthusiast. You can find Gerry's eggs at the gift shop of the Ukrainian Museum of Canada in Saskatoon. Gerry explained the process of creating the designs and what they mean in a conversation with Sonali Karnick.


No comments:

Paper Mache Clay Experiment - What I would do differently

This is so typical of me to just jump in where angels fear to tread and make up my own rules.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn...