The art and craft of pysanky

Pumpkin Choir

Sometimes I let go of my serious side and just play with eggs and dyes and wax.  This is one of those times!  Happy Halloween all.

5 responses

  1. I have read your blog from front to back [or is that back to front?]. Anyway, your first entry back during Lent in 2010 begs me to respond from an Orthodox Christian point of view [pysanky are an “Orthodox art form” after all! :-)].

    For the Orthodox, Lent is a time of repentance, but also a time of self-discovery – we discover not only who we have been, our imperfections, but who we want to be, God’s call for us to become perfect in Him. So there is much prayer, many, many services, and Confession and Forgiveness through our priest.

    But, through it all, we see the Resurrection of Christ. The Resurrection is never forgotten throughout the entire year, and even throughout Great Lent.

    Pysanky are made to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, and often people do not begin to make them until the week before passion Week. We make them colorful – each color has a meaning. Each symbol has a meaning. The art form derived from pagan practices, but was adapted to and blessed for Christian usage. I see you use “nets” a lot. These reflect the nets used by St. Peter to catch fish – and symbolize his becoming the “fisher of men,” as we all should be. I look at your egg photos and I see many stars, and flowers. Flowers represent love and stars represent life in Christ. You also use many ribbons which can represent The Way, everlasting life or waters (depending upon their shape).

    Each of the colors has one or more meanings. Red is used for divine love, or passion. Blue can mean blue skies, life-giving air, and is also a hope for good health. Your black and white eggs are very traditional. Black means constancy, or eternity. When used with white it indicates respect for departed souls. But not using colors during Lent as some kind of repentance is not something an Orthodox Christian would do. Look at our Iconography and you will see that they are vibrant with color – even the ones representing the Holy Supper, the Passion, and the Crucifixion. Even the Epitaphios Thrēnos “Lamentation at the Grave,” is colorful, So making colorful pysanky during Great Lent is our usual custom. Pysanky are given as special gifts for Pascha (Easter). It is customary to give them to close friends, godparents, godchildren, and sometimes to relatives.

    Adults teach their children and grandchildren how to make pysanky, and if you look at the eggs made by different families through generations, you can identify which family through their eggs. The Ukrainians don’t empty their eggs, they color them whole, and allow them to dry out for a year or two before shellacking or varnishing them. Many of the people I know who make pysanky use clear nail polish, particularly Sally Hansen “Hard as Nails” clear polish to finish their eggs off.

    An Orthodox Christian would not use zodiac signs on pysanky, and usually would not make Halloween decorations. The use of pysanky as Christmas decorations has become more common.

    You may enjoy visiting at one of the several Ukrainian Churches in Sacramento. Most are Byzantine Catholic rather than Orthodox, but the culture is the same. Some of their members may be available to talk about pysanky.

    Your eggs are beautiful, and I hope you continue making them!

    November 20, 2012 at 11:42 am

    • What a wealth of information you are. Thank you for your insights into Orthodoxy and how pysanky fit in. I love that this art is not just art, it has a spiritual aspect that helps not only the artist, but the art viewer catch a glimpse of life on the other side of this earthly veil.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:36 pm

  2. Love them!

    November 1, 2012 at 4:00 am

  3. Jeanne from Punxsy!

    How cute! I can hear them singing, too! Sounds almost as good as the bells this summer!

    October 31, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    • Thanks Jeanne…and I think they probably sound better than I did at those handbells. It’s harder than it looks!

      October 31, 2012 at 6:51 pm

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