Ukraine’s Painted Eggs: An Ancient Art

Ukraine’s Painted Eggs: An Ancient Art

Ukraine’s decorated eggs are gorgeous and make great gifts, but watching local artisans create them is even more amazing.

Writing on EggsIn Ukrainian, these brilliantly-decorated eggs are called pysanky, from the verb “to write.” Designs aren’t painted, but instead drawn on with melted wax using a pinpoint stylus. Like the designs embroidered on traditional Ukrainian shirts, vyshyvanka, the symbols, motifs and chosen colors on the finished eggs have specific meanings and originally could be read as messages from different regions of the country.

Painted eggs decorate a Kiev fence<br>Photo: Luba Rudenko

Decorated eggs adorn a Kiev fence
Photo: Luba Rudenko

Eggs: A Fragile Art FormHow do they do it? Poke holes in both ends of a raw egg and blow out the egg white and yolk (not easy to do!). After adding wax to the tip of a stylus and holding it over a flame until it melts, you etch symbols and designs on the egg. Dip it into a variety of dyes starting with the lightest – usually yellow – and move to deeper dyes like green and purple. Finished? Now it’s time to melt off the original wax on the egg, revealing your egg creation.

Ancient HistoryWhy eggs? In pagan times Ukrainians worshiped a sun god who warmed the cold earth and brought life to all things. Birds were the closest living thing to this sun god; mere mortals believed that eating their eggs was a source of life. Later, under Christianity, these eggs came to symbolize the tomb of the resurrection.

Egg Painting Exhibition in Kiev<br>Photo: Luba Rudenko

Egg painting exhibition in Kiev
Photo: Luba Rudenko

Decorate Your Own Egg on a Small Group Tour with MIROn MIR’s small group tour, Belarus, Ukraine & Moldova, travelers have the opportunity to learn traditional egg painting. An artist leads you step by step through drawing the pattern, coating the egg in hot wax and dipping it in colored dyes. Each participant comes away with his/her own decorated egg.

Awaken your creativity in an egg painting workshop<br>Photo: Joanna Millick

Life-long learning in an egg painting workshop
Photo: Joanna Millick

Travel with MIR to UkraineMIR has nearly 30 years of travel experience in Ukraine and has an affiliate office in Kiev. We have a roster of contacts that can take you to places that you didn’t even know you wanted to go. Our full service, dedication, commitment to quality, and destination expertise have twice earned us a place on National Geographic Adventure’s list of “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth.” 

You can experience the long-lived folk tradition of egg painting on MIR’s small group tour, Belarus, Ukraine & Moldova, or on the private itinerary, Essential Ukraine.  You can also create your own Ukrainian exploration with the help of our custom and private specialists. 

Chat with one of our destination specialists by email or by phone at 1-800-424-7289 to start planning your 2016 travels now.

Top Photo: A bevy of beautiful eggs. Photo: Jillian Schneeman

PUBLISHED: February 17, 2016

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