New World Folk Art
New World Folk Art
Pysanky Artistry and other Arts and Fine Crafts
Dragonfly on a goose egg
Thousands of years ago......
in the area of the world known as Ukraine, primitive man worshiped the sun. The sun god was the greatest deity of all and birds were his messengers. Man could not touch the sun god nor could he catch his messenger, the bird, but he could manage to obtain the bird's egg.
Primitive man felt a great connection between the sun and the egg. The center of the egg is bright and yellow like the sun, while the white part of the egg seemed to represent the moon and the stars. Eggs were looked on as magical objects and a source of life. They were believed to have special powers. They were used in sun worship ceremonies and rituals of spring. Following winter, as the days grew longer, primitive man celebrated the return of the sun and the birth of new life as the fertile egg hatched.
Primitive man had a spiritual and artistic nature and the magical egg was an object to be adorned. Since eggs were objects to be revered and not merely decorated, the patterns placed on them were considered to be "written" and not applied. The symbols and colors used on the egg were taken from the earth and represented fertility, strength, prosperity and many other things desired by man.
Each egg was "written" with the intention of giving it to a particular person who may have had a special need. For example, a young woman may have been given an egg written with the symbols used for fertility. An egg, "written" correctly, was thought to have mystical powers and was often carried as a benevolent talisman.
When the Ukrainian people accepted Christianity in 988 AD, the egg was adopted as a symbol of the new religion. At Easter, the egg is traditionally the first food to be eaten upon hearing the news of Christ's Resurrection, thus ending the Great Fast. The egg was compared to the tomb from which Christ arose and many of the old pagan symbols used to adorn it, were given new Christian meanings. The sun designs now stand for the Son of God, triangles stand for the Holy Trinity and crosses represent Christ's suffering for us.