Monday, April 6, 2009

Ukranian Pysanky - A Story

What is Psyanky anyway?

Well, Pysanky is derived from the Ukranian verb pysaty meaning "to write". Pysanky are a special type of easter eggs that have been decorated using beeswax and dye; it is a very old art form. Traditionally. eggs were decorated uncooked and only fertized eggs could be used. These eggs are decorated with a batik technique - a design is writtten on the eggs with a Kystka (or electric stylus) containing beeswax then the egg is dyed. Traditional dyes were made from dried plants or other vegetable matter by the women in each household who passed the dye 'recipes' on from mother to daughter as they did with the designs used and the accompanying forlklore. Successive layers of beeswax and dye are added until the artist achieves the desired result. Pysanka designs are usually geometric using traditional symbols such as triangles, circles, straight and curved lines to tell a story. Deirdre Le Blanc uses the term Sacred Geometry in describing the practice.

The process of making these beautiful and complex eggs (each egg may take from 3 to 11 hours to complete) is described many places but the most comprehensive site (over 400 pages ) on pysanky was built by Luba Petruska.

This wonderful, well organized site is just full of the most interesting pictures of all types of pysanky, it also contains a how to section, history, traditions, easter cards, post cards - you name it this site has it.
She also has a What's New page that is more 'blog like' if you are more comfortable with that format.
If you ever have whole afternoons or evenings to spend making exquiste easter eggs that will someday be heirlooms here's how.

Martha Stewart also has a very good how to page that includes a supply list as well.

Pysanka is the singular form of pysanky. The biggest non chocolate easter egg in the world, the Vegreville Pysanka , is a wonderful ode both to math and to art, achieving nine mathmatical, architectural and engineering firsts when it was completed in 1975. Sitting at a 30 degree angle, on a massive steel and concrete base, turning in the wind like a weather vane, it remains a testament to the vision of Ron Resch. and a tribute to the Canadian Mounties whose 100th anniversary it commemerates.

If you'd like to know more Dr. Myron Hlynka, has an extensive list of links here:

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