Leaf Motifs



Tree motifs       Oak motifs

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Plants could be represented on in whole or in part.  Most often, it was only the leaves that were depicted. They were generally elongated, and could be simple or compound, smooth or faceted.

On pysanky, flowers can often look like leaves.  The two are differentiated mainly by the fact that leaves are usually solid or divided in half; they often have a central oval or other rounded shape. Flowers have petals and are more compound structures. People unfamiliar with pysanka motifs often mistake leaves for flowers. I have X’d out the flower in the illustration below:

This is an example of a simple leaf motif from Kherson:

There were several types of leaves that were distinct and named.  Oak leaves were shown with wavy contours, and sometimes interspersed with acorns.  In Ancient Ukrainian mythology, the oak and its leaves symbolize Perun, the god of lightning; to honor him, the Slavs burned fires of oak logs and branches.  The oak carries his attributes: strength and power. These an examples of the oak leaf motif from Zaporizhia and Pokuttia:


These are examples of pysanky with oak leaf motifs from Sokal; the one on the right also has acorns:


The clover or trylystok (three-leaf), with its characteristic shape, is commonly found on pysanky.  Those from Podillya or the Kherson region use the first name.  It is most commonly seen on pysanky from the Poltava and Middle Dnipro regions, where it is called the trylystok.  These are examples of the trylystok from the Kyiv region (left) and Vinnytsia oblast (Podillia, right):


In other areas, the barvinok (periwinkle) plant was shown with three leaves, as in this Binyashevsky pysanka from the Voronezh region:

Tree motifs       Oak motifs