Pysaty is the Ukrainian verb for writing. Pysanky are decorated eggs: the decorations are written with beeswax which resists the layers of dye.

My family has dyed pysanky for years. My sister Jan and her husband Greg host an annual neighborhood egg decorating party. I was inspired by the party and the eggs to write a book about an eccentric hen (P. Zonka) who lays beautiful eggs. Here is a link to an earlier post about that.

Last spring I went to eastern Europe with my friend Ingrid. Her friend Vova took us many places, including a surprise visit to the Museum of  Decorated Eggs in the Carpathian mountains.

It was egg-mazing, egg-zilerating, egg-xactly the place to see pysanky: old, new, simple, intricate, subtle, colorful, masterful, plentiful.

Pysanky are rich in beauty and symbolism. To the sun worshippers, eggs were magical objects representing the rebirth of the earth. The colors and the patterns of the decorations all have symbolic meaning. For example: the spiral, or snake, is a strong talisman of protection. If an evil spirit enters the house it will get trapped in the spiral.

The Huzkuls of the Carpathian mountains believed that the fate of the world depended on decorating eggs. If not enough pysanky were made each year  a horrible monster named Pekun would break free from his chains and destroy the world.  So please do your part and decorate some eggs! Here is a link to a youtube video that shows how. Have fun (and save the world).

P.S.: Here is a  glossary of mouth pleasing egg words for those of you that are more interested in pysaty than pysanky.
Malyovanky: Painted eggs
Krapanky: Dot eggs
Dryapanky: Scratched eggs revealing white shell
Krashanky: Eggs dyed a single color
Nakleyanky: Decorations glued on
Travlenky: Etched eggs
Biserky: Beads embedded in the beeswax.

16 responses to “Pysanky

  1. Beautiful egg-samples of an egg-centric art form!

  2. Eggs-stra cool post. And this year the world needs a little eggs-tra saving, so I will do my part via pysanky (and, fingers crossed, pysaty.)

  3. Eggs-actly what I needed today. Such beautiful eggs! Absolutely eggs-alting and eggs-ilarating. 🙂

  4. These are so exquisite. Thanks Julie for sharing this beauty from your heritage.

  5. Take my breath away beautiful. Thank you!

  6. Hi Julie! Could you tell me something about your Behold The Egg painting? The black outlining: is it ink put on afterwards, or added during the painting? I struggle with ink getting ‘caught’ on the gouache and looking ragged. How do you get around this?
    It’s lovely. Your colours are always so wonderfully eggstravagant.

    • Julie Paschkis

      Thanks! I paint the black first using kohinoor waterproof ink. Then I paint the gouache. Then I go over the black lines if needed. I often like a little bit of raggediness.

  7. So inspiring, Julie! Back in WA state I raised Black Copper French Marans to use for Dryapanky. The hens “spray paint” the super dark brown over a light brown shell, so all I had to do was scrape in the design. I am guessing you probably use traditional designs, but do you know about Adobe Capture CC? I wrote a post about it over at the kidlitartists blog. You probably don’t need it, but I thought of you while writing the post.

    • Julie Paschkis

      Wow- the pattern generator is interesting – although you are right that I most likely won’t use it. In general I suffer from a surfeit of patterns in my brain – not a deficit!
      My sister (who has the egg party) also keeps chickens. I will tell her about the Black Copper French Marans. She usually pre-dyes some white eggs with onion skins for us to scratch.

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