Church Motifs

Representations of churches are sometimes seen on Bukovynian (and Hutsul) pysanky. The church, along with the orthodox cross, are probably the only truly Christian symbols found on Ukraine pysanky; the others
have pagan roots and, often, still
retain their pagan meanings. 

Often the church is pictured in its entirety, as in the pysanky at the top of the page, or in the drawing on the left. These are, of course, the easiest to identity. The churches shown can be either simple wooden churches, like those in the pysanky pictured above. These churches are most commonly found in western Ukraine, in the mountain regions.

The churches can also be more baroque in nature, structures with multiple onion domes , as in the motif shown on the left, or pysanka 96 below.  This sort of church was most common in larger towns and cities, but was also built in villages (albeit in a smaller form) in areas without access to forests and plentiful wood. 

While churches are often the main motif on a pysanka, they can also be small, secondary motifs. If you look at the pysanky below, you will find small churches incorporated into larger motifs.  An example is this small, three-domed church from pysanka 199 below:

The most minimalist such representation can be found in the last five pysanky below.  There the church is stripped to its essential, and we get a triangle (usually cross-hatched) with a simple cross on top.  An example is this tiny church from pysanka 7 below:

Another common motif is the bell tower.  In Ukraine, this was usually a smallеr building next to the church, and it was called a «дзвіниця» (dzvinytsia). A country church might have a small wooden or stucco dzvinytsia, while a city church might have an elaborate, multistory (and multi-bell) structure of brick and stucco with a golden dome (above right, the bell tower of St. Sofia in Kyiv). A dzvinytsia on a pysanka, though, is of a simple sort, and is represented by a three-cornered motif of this sort:

You can see these sorts of towers in the first five pysanky shown below.  A bell tower might have a “window” in the middle, as in several of those shown below (3, 57, 430).

All of these pysanky have already been shown and described in the previous albums.  For that reason, I’ve generally only included 2 photos of each on this page.  If you wish to see them, go to the appropriate album (based on the division of the pysanka), and search by number.

I’ve included this page because churches are a fairly common motif on Bukovynian and Hutsul pysanky, but not in other regions of Ukraine.  I thought it would be interesting to bring a series of these pysanky together, to make it easier to compare, contrast and enjoy them.

(Note: the numeration of these eggs, i.e. the  “Балан - №,” simply reflects the order in which they were photographed and their data recorded.  It is just my bookkeeping system.) 

  Other Divisions       

Churches, chapels and bell towers

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