Beaded “Pysanky”

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Beaded eggs were traditionally created in only western Ukraine, in areas of Rumanian influence.  In these areas, beads were also used in embroidery.

Traditional Beaded Pysanky

Traditional beaded pysanky were created with a form of inlay or encrustation:  an egg (real or wooden) was coated with beeswax, and then small glass beads were pressed into its surface to create patterns. The patterns were colorful and generally geometric, and often similar to actual pysanka patterns.

These pysanky, according to one source, were made in nuns in orthodox monasteries more often than by lay people.  They were never very common.

This used to be the only method of decorating eggs with beads in Ukraine, but has gone by the wayside in recent years in Ukraine.  Modern methods of decoration now predominate when it comes to beads on eggs.

Modern Beaded Eggs

Beaded eggs being currently created in Ukraine are being made in a very different fashion from the traditional beaded “pysanky.”  Rather than using an inlay process with beeswax, these eggs have beads that are strung together, and then glued onto the surface of a wooden egg. (Note the pysanka in the photo at the top of this page.)

These beaded eggs are now produced in many parts of Ukraine, but in greatest quantity in the Hutsul areas (the handcrafts/souvenir capital of Ukraine). Local craftsmen have begun to incorporate elements besides he simple glass beads traditionally used.  Pearls and gold beads, bugle beads, tear-shaped beads, and glass jewels, as well as sequins, are often seen.  Many of these eggs have a beaded or golden string loop for hanging.

In addition to traditional-type pysanka and embroidery patterns, floral and abstract designs are frequently seen.

Religious Beaded Eggs

A recent development in the beaded pysanka is the icon egg.  Religious pictures, small icons, are glued to a wooden egg, and then the rest of the egg is decorated with all sorts of flashy beads.  Some have jeweled crosses, others have rose embroidery.  These seem to have originated in the Hutsul areas of Ukraine.

Woven Beadwork Eggs


A gerdan is a “woven” beaded necklace commonly produced and worn in Ukraine.  The form part of the national costume.  These intricate creations are formed by sewing or tying beads together into intricate patterns. 

Gerdan from the Ethnographic Museum in L’viv

I have seen eggs decorated in this fashion in recent years. The beadwork is formed over a natural or wooden egg. Examples of this form can be seen in the photo below.  Note the pink and white eggs on the left, and the white and gold egg with red flowers on the right.

Beaded “pysanky” for sale in a shop in L’viv

The underlying eggshell peaks through the beadwork of these pysanky. 

Some of the modern beaded eggs use sections of gerdany in their construction, either bands or medallions, but these are then glued to the surface of the wooden egg mold. In the woven beadwork eggs, the beadwork is fitted over the surface of the egg.

Bead-Applique Eggs

This is the newest variation on the beaded egg that I have found in Ukraine. I first saw them in the summer of 2007.  In this technique, an egg (wooden) is covered with cloth onto which beads have been sewn. They are quite attractive (see photo directly above).  Beadwork has long been used to adorn Ukrainian clothing.  Beads have been embroidered onto shirts (as in the photo below), jackets, skirts, and keptaryky, as well as being  incorporated into korony (women’s headdresses), often in lovely floral designs.

Modern beaded embroidered women’s shirts for sale at the market in Kosiv

Examples of this sort of beaded egg can also be seen in the photo of the basket of eggs above, usually, but not always, with a floral pattern. 


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