Pysanky Eggs (or in Czech, kraslice)

Pysanky Eggs, a traditional Ukranian or Czech Easter egg decorating technique

Psyanky eggs my Czech grandmother made

 Happy Easter! These are pysanky eggs my grandma made. Since she was Czech I guess I should call them kraslice instead of pysanky. They are usually done with beeswax and dye (like batik), but she did these in her 90s so they are done with markers. There are traditional designs (which can be seen here). The shapes also have meaning as well. My grandmother used the rose symbol a lot, which symbolizes love and caring.

Colors have specific meanings in pysanky eggs, too. White is purity and eggs that were mainly white were given to young people. Darker colored eggs were traditionally given to older people, symbolizing how their lives had become full. Yellow symbolizes happiness, orange strength, black is eternity, blue is the sky and air, red is hope and passion, and green is spring.

Bowls of pysanky were kept in the house for decoration (they are beautiful!) and as protection. They were thought to protect the household from evil spirits, lightning, fire and other dangers. It was considered bad luck to step on a pysanky and those that did would be punished by God.

The eggs are made during Holy week (the last week in Lent) and were made by the women in the family. My grandmother and her sisters learned the technique from my great grandmother, who is turn learned it fronm her mother. In those days the dyes were made from plants or flowers or nut shells. The eggs were made at night when the children in the household were sleeping. Each pattern and dye mixture was specific to the family and both were closely guarded secrets.

I never learned the technique from my grandmother, but I have many eggs she made.  I’ve also never tried the technique, it kind of intimidates me! Maybe I’ll give it a try next year…

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~ by olivetto on April 24, 2011.

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