Monday, April 14, 2014

Traditional Egg Decorating

A bit of a history junkie like my daddy, I love to read about why we do certain holiday traditions. While egg decorating long pre-dates Christianity, the practice is now fairly synonymous with Easter for many people. It always amazing me the ways different cultures have developed such unique takes on the same tradition.

More well known locally here in Texas is the Spanish and Mexican tradition of Cascaron, confetti filled eggs 

The Scandinavians and Germans are well known for their folky Easter egg trees.

The Russian artist, Peter Faberge, created his stunning enamel masterpieces that are immortalized in several museums.

However, the one that caught my eye the most is the Ukrainian tradition of Pysanka, which specifically refers to an elaborate technique of resist writing on eggs with beeswax.

Good ol’ Wikipedia has a nice write up on the tradition, as well as this great break down of the different techniques below:

“Pysanky –from pysaty (писати), "to write"– are raw eggs created with the wax-resist method (batik). The designs are "written" in hot wax with a stylus or a pin-head. Wooden eggs and beaded eggs are often referred to as "pysanky" because they mimic the decorative style of pysanky in a different medium.

Krapanky –from krapka (крапка), "a dot"– are raw eggs decorated using the wax-resist method, but with only dots as ornamentation (no symbols or other drawings). They are traditionally created by dripping molten wax from a beeswax candle onto an egg.

Dryapanky –from dryapaty (дряпати), "to scratch"– are created by scratching the surface of a dyed egg to reveal the white shell below.

Malyovanky –from malyuvaty (малювати), "to paint"– are created by painting a design with a brush using oil or water color paints. It is sometimes used to refer to coloring (e.g. with a marker) on an egg.

Nakleyanky –from kleyaty (клеяти), "to glue on"– are created by glueing objects to the surface of an egg.

Travlenky –from travlenya (травлення), “etching” – are created by waxing eggs and then etching away the unwaxed areas. This is not a traditional Ukraine practice, but has become popularized recently.

Biserky –from biser (бісер), "beads"– are created by coating an egg with beeswax, and then embedding beads into the wax to create geometric designs.

Lystovky –from lystya (листя), "leaves"– are created by dyeing an egg to which small leaves have been attached.

Krashanky –from krasyty (красити), "to decorate"– are boiled eggs dyed a single color (with vegetable dyes), and are blessed and eaten at Easter.”

There are several myths associated Pysanka, though this one popped out at me the most!
“The Hutsuls, Ukrainians who live in the Carpathian Mountains of western Ukraine––believe that the fate of the world depends upon the pysanka. As long as the egg decorating custom continues, the world will exist. If, for any reason, this custom is abandoned, evil––in the shape of a horrible serpent who is forever chained to a cliff–– will overrun the world.”

To contribute to this tradition, I’ll plan on sharing my own spin on decorating Easter eggs later this week so keep an eye out for that tutorial!

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