"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

Birds                                       Fertility

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

Hens                                       Fertility

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?

star with cross hatching symbol

star and cross hatching


diamonds, triangles and the sun

flower symbol pysanka


deer symbol on pysanka

reindeer, wheat, triangles


white flowers and dots


mums and crosses


bird on a brown egg


bluebird on a branch, waves

abstract bird symbol pysanka

abstract bird


abstract bird - back

fish on brown egg pysanka

fish on a brown egg


fish, cross hatching, waves

fish, waves symbols pysanka

fish, waves, triangles

fish and waves symbol pysanka

fish, waves, triangles on a brown egg

crosses, cross hatching pysanka

crosses on a brown egg

celtic design on pysanka

celtic heart on an etched brown egg

celtic pysanka

celtic design, cross hatching and triangles

nesting birds symbols pysanka

stork's nest


stork's nest - back


Christmas ornament - cross

red and white pysanka

Christmas ornament

bird symbol goose pysanka

Goose Egg "Stork on the Roof"

dragon fly goose egg pysanka

Goose Egg "Dragonfly"

desert lady goose egg pysanka

"Desert Lady"

rooster symbol goose egg pysanka

Goose Egg "Rooster" LA County Fair

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.


Emu Egg - the lines were drawn in beeswax and the blue shell was etched away using vinegar


Emu Egg - the "star" was filled in with wax then the egg was dipped in red dye

emu chicks

Emu Chicks and Unhatched Eggs



red and white christmas pysanka

A true red dye on a smooth white egg, preferably "jumbo" size, makes beautiful Christmas tree ornaments. 

meanng of pysanky symbols