Ukrainian pysanky eggs have a rich history, dating back over 2000 years. Eggs were decorated with
symbols and colors intending to bring the recipient a variety of good fortunes. The many symbols include wishes for good health, fertility, wealth, a healthy harvest, and love. Women decorated the eggs in the spring, distributing them to family and friends. The pysanky eggs were usually decorated whole and raw *. The thought was that the egg itself had a mystical power.
After the acceptance of Christianity in A.D. 988, pysanky eggs were decorated with Christian symbols, made during the Lenten season and given away during Easter. Pysanky are not painted, but rather, written. The word pysanky comes from the word meaning “to write”. Wax is written on to the egg with a pen like tool named a kistka. The kistka holds wax in a funnel, which is held over a candle flame to melt the wax. The wax is then applied to the egg and dipped into a dye bath. All of the areas where the wax was applied resist the dye. The two step process is repeated for a series of colors, usually ending in a dark red, purple, or black. The wax is then melted away to reveal a beautiful and detailed design. Three coats of a finish are applied for durability and shine.
*My eggs are all hollow. I use a modern version of the kistka, which is electric. It allows for an even heat which helps the wax flow smoothly. Although the technique remains traditional, many of the designs are original. I consider many of my eggs Batik eggs rather than traditional pysanky.