"The Written Egg"
A Pysanka is an embellished chicken, duck or goose egg. The plural of Pysanka is Pysanky and is derived from the Ukrainian verb, "Pysaty", which means, "to write."
The patterns are considered to be “written” and not applied. Each color or symbol represents an attribute or wish for the person receiving the egg. For example, the diamond shape means knowledge and the fish shape means Christianity. An egg with these patterns would be an ideal gift for a Sunday school teacher. The bird symbol means “fulfillment of wishes” or “fertility”. If the bird were a rooster, the egg would make a great gift for a man as the rooster symbolizes masculinity.
What the Symbols Mean
Butterflies The ascent of the soul and the pleasure of childhood
Circles, Curls Protection and everlasting life, continuity, and completeness, as well as the sun
Cross Christ's crucifixion
Deer Wealth, prosperity
Dots or small circles Mary's tears or the sun
Fish (IKTHYS) The secret Greek symbol for Christianity use by the early Christians
Flowers Beauty, children, and the female principles of wisdom
Fruit Continuity, good fellowship, strong and loyal love, and love of God
Grapevine Good fruits of the Christian life
Horns Nobility, wisdom, and triumph over problems
Ladders Prayers going up to heaven
Leaves Immortality, eternal or pure love, strength and persistence
Leaves and Flowers Life, growth
Lines or waves Everlasting life
Netting Refers to Jesus Christ as the "Fisher of Men"
Plant Symbols Rebirth and nature
Roosters Good fortune, masculinity, or the coming of dawn
Spiders The mystery of life and death, as well as divinity and immortality
Stars and roses Purity, life the giver of light, divine will of God, and God's love for humanity
Sun The life giving, all embracing, all renewing nature of God
The 8 pointed Star Ancient symbol for Jesus Christ
Trees Strength, renewal, creation, growth and eternal
Triangle The trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), and the elements
What is a Pysanka?
Extra large white and brown chicken eggs are emptied and washed inside and out before the designs are drawn on in pencil. The humble chicken gives us the best canvas for pysanky.
I buy my eggs at a local chicken farm and empty them myself. They sell me very large eggs and pick out the smoothest ones just for me. The omelets are delicious.
Duck, goose and turkey eggs have a much larger surface to work on. I also find that the duck egg shells have a very different "feel" to the shell. They're extremely smooth and translucent. Also they seem to take the dyes a little differently than chicken or goose eggs.
I have not yet worked on a turkey or ostrich egg, but I have worked on an emu egg. It's not finished yet but I will definitely add it to the gallery when it's done.
A true red dye on a smooth white egg, preferably "jumbo" size, makes beautiful Christmas tree ornaments.