The start of spring means that Easter is on the horizon, which for many people means one thing—it's time to start decorating eggs. But did you know that in Ukraine, Easter egg decorating is an important art form that dates back centuries? Known as pysanky , these Ukrainian Easter eggs are decorated using the wax-resist ( batik ) method. Covered in stunning motifs often taken from Slavic folk art, you'll also find these decorated eggs in many parts of eastern Europe.
Creating these precious eggs takes focus and attention to detail, but the results are stunning works of art that are traditionally given as gifts to family members and community leaders. In fact, pysanka is so important to the culture that it's thought that it was even produced in prehistoric Ukraine. Archaeologists have found decorated ceramic eggs to back up this theory and, according to folklore, pysanky can help ward off evil from overtaking the world. Later, this blended with Christian beliefs, though many people still feel that the decorative eggs work to scare off bad spirits from the home.
So how does one create a pysanka? The word itself is taken from the Ukrainian verb “to write,” which gives a hint into how it's done. After designs are drawn in pencil around the raw egg, it's hollowed out by drilling a small hole in the top and bottom and letting its innards seep out. Melted wax is then applied across the lines with a tool called a kistka , and the egg is dipped in the first dye. Just as in batik, the wax helps seal off the lines so that they remain free of the dye. Wax is continually added, and the egg is continuously dipped in different colors to achieve the desired design. Once dry, the beeswax is melted off with a candle, revealing the colorful pattern. Pysanky are then varnished to preserve them before being displayed on special stands.
For many families, creating pysanky is an important cultural ritual that brings them together each Easter. It's the perfect creative project for all ages, so whether you want to pay homage to your Slavic heritage or simply take your Easter eggs to a new level, why not give it a try? Many community organizations also run workshops on how to decorate Ukrainian Easter eggs or you can try an