Painted Eggs

The word “malyovanka” (мальованка) comes from the Ukrainian word “malyuvaty” (малювати), which means “to paint or draw.”  Malyovanky were generally created using a brush and paint rather than a pysachok, beeswax and dyes.

Malyovanky have been created through the years using all sorts of paints–watercolor, tempera, oil, acrylic. This term also described those eggs decorated using a pen and ink, and today includes eggs decorated using markers of all sorts.

Some malyovanky use traditional pysanka motifs and designs; others take full advantage of the paint medium.  Backgrounds can vary from natural shell to painted.  Some of the newer eggs incorporate glitter and reflective paints.

These malyovanky are all from Ivan Balan’s collection, and are from the northern Bukovyna region. He has tried several methods of preservation, including filling the eggs with wax or paraffin and “reconstructing” them.  The first method fell out of favor for several reasons, including that the beeswax attracted mice, who would eat through the shell to get at it, and that it often expanded, cracking the egg open in the process. (Examples below) To reconstruct an egg, he would cut it open with a fine knife, empty it, reinforce the shell with glue and other substances, and then glue the egg back together.  You can see the lines where the reconstructed eggs were cut open quite clearly in the malyovanky below; these lines tend to be much less conspicuous in pysanky.

The variety of techniques and designs in the malyovanky from this one region of Ukraine is quite amazing.  Some have a painted background, some are painted on a white egg, and others have quite intricate multicolored designs. Some have a pastel, watercolor-like decor design. Others have such a thick coat of pain that it’s begun to crack with age. 

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