Pysankarstvo (decorating Easter eggs with wax-resist method)


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A pysanka is a bird-egg painted with a miniature ornamental pattern. It is one of the most ancient forms of Ukrainian folk painting associated with the age-old folk rituals of meeting spring and awakening of nature.

Pysanka eggs are characteristic of the majority European nations as well as innate for many peoples of Asia and Africa. The oldest of them date back as early as 3,000 years BC.

The roots of Ukrainian pysankas could be traced back to the ancient Trypillya Culture. The pysanka-painting art reached its golden age with the spread of Christianity in Kyivan Rus in the 10-13th centuries AD. At that the Ancient Rus masters manufactured a lot of ceramic painted eggs due to which these artefacts managed to preserve till present days. The oldest preserved Ukrainian pysanka eggs made of chicken eggs date back to 19th – early 20th century.

Our ancestors believed that pysanka eggs possessed a magic power, brought good fortune, happiness and protected people from everything evil. In pre-Christian times pysankas used to serve families as charms whereas the pagan symbols on them were reinterpreted by Christians and adapted according to their vision. Consequently, the dots symbolizing stars signified the tears of Mother of God, the fish that was a symbol of health turned into the sign of Jesus, the pictogram that used to symbolize four corners of the world became a Cross, while the triangle with which our ancestors depicted the triforce of earth, sky and elements was reinterpreted as a symbol of Trinity.

By and large the pysanka ornaments can be divided into the geometric and the image-bearing signs. One of the most wide-spread symbols is the sun depicted as a circle, a spiral or a rose. The figure of endlessness expressed by a wave or meander would protect from troubles. A staircase was a symbol of searching for a better life. A symbol of sieve would help separating the good from the evil. A path was a symbol of eternity. Widespread pictorial elements were ‘the tree of life’ and ‘a pine twig’ also called ‘sosonka’ interpreted as the symbols of revival. A horse stood for power and stamina, a deer would mean a long life and wealth, a swallow was a symbol of happiness, good harvest and spring, a bee would infer industriousness and purity of soul, a spider signified persistence and patience.

Symbolic colours of pysanka eggs:

  • Red meant love, joy and life,
  • Yellow stood for the moon and stars,
  • Blue symbolized the sky, the air and good health,
  • Green signified spring and nature,
  • Black and white implied respect for spirits.

In olden days pysanka eggs were coloured with herbal paints (based on onion skins, leaves, roots and tree bark) but since early 20th century people have started using aniline dyes as well.

Various regions of Ukraine have their own special features in decorating Easter eggs:

  • A characteristic pattern for Podillya region is the use of vegetative and geometric ornaments as well as the modesty of hues, i.e. red, white and black.
  • On the contrary, a remarkable feature of pysanka painting in Kyiv and Poltava regions are the bright colours.
  • In Chernihiv region the dominant characteristics is distinct and graphic red and black pattern with white contour.
  • In Dnipropetrivsk area pysanka eggs combine the brightness of colours with vegetative and geometric ornaments.
  • In Cherkassy region pysanka eggs are coloured with the use of the wax painting technique. There the most popular motive is sunrise.
  • Masters from Ternopil region prefer the brown, red and white and dark-red hues decorating their Easter eggs with waves, pine twigs, meanders and flowers.
  • Pysankas of Prykarpattya are characterized with sophisticated ornaments and saturated colours with prevailing yellow, red and black.

Each Easter egg is special and unique. So we invite you to our Lihtaryk Art Studio for a master-class in pysanka painting where you will be able to get involved into the age-old art and create your own talisman pysanka having given it a special meaning.


lesson`s duration - 1,5 hours


Age of participants - children 6 years old and adults


Numbers of participants - up to 8 people

Important information

The masterclass program resumes painting of a hollow egg with wax, style use sand special dyes for pysanka painting.

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