Big Pysanky


The world’s largest pysanka, pictured above, is located in Vegreville,a town  in central Alberta. A large percentage of Vegreville's population is of Ukrainian Canadian descent. The world's largest pysanka was created to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 1974 and to celebrate Vegreville's ethnic heritage.

The geometry of the egg shape is quite complex–it is not just a simple ovoid shape. Its creation required the development of new computer programs, and was a very complex undertaking at the time, involving the first computer modeling of an egg.

The Pysanka is really an immense jigsaw puzzle containing 524 star patterns, 1,108 equilateral triangles, 3,512 visible facets, 6,978 nuts and bolts, and 177 internal struts. Thousands of tourists from around the world visit Vegreville annually and marvel at the Pysanka. It measures 25.7 feet long, 18 feet wide, and stands 31 feet high. (More information here.)

An even larger pysanka has been proposed and designed, but not yet built.  I saw this on line last year – a plan to build a huge pysanka and “multifunctional complex” in Kyiv.  This would be the world’s biggest pysanka, if ever constructed. (Sorry, Canada.) the series of structures would be built on an island in the Dnipro.

The complex would dramatically change the skyline of Kyiv, but it seems to be all just wishful thinking at this point. 

A really large pysanka-shaped building already exists, though, in Kolomyia, Ivano-Frankivsk oblast.  It is the Museum of the Pysanka, and the front part of the building is actually a large concrete pysanka. 

The current building was built in 2000, and houses a collection of over 10,000 pysanky. The permanent collection includes pysanky from the majority of the oblasts of Ukraine although a majority of the pysanky, and most of the antique ones, are local in origin.

The pysanka portion of the museum measures 46 feet in height and 33 feet in diameter. Although it is bigger than the Vegreville pysanka, it is not a free-standing structure. 

The museum is not only shaped like a large egg, but parts of its exterior and the inside part of the dome are painted to resemble a pysanka.

Interior of the dome of the pysanka

There are other large pysanky, albeit not quite on the scale of the ones described above.  The pysanka shown below was created in L’viv and placed in the Ploshcha Rynok (Old Market Square) during spring of 2010.  It was made of willow branches, decorated with flowers, and was about 14 feet tall.

The willow pysanka was created for L’viv’s annual Easter fair by four artists weaving together.  Willow is used in Ukraine rather than palm leaves in the celebration of Palm Sunday.

There are more permanent big pysanky around as well.  This statue is located on the island of Khortytsia (Хортиця), and was placed there in 2007.  It depicts a traditional Sorokoklyn pysanka. I don’t know how big it is (I didn’t see it when I visited that year), but the inscription reads “Ukrainian Pysanka: Beauty, Well-Being, Heritage.”

Another pysanka statue can be found in Dobrohost, Drohobych raion, L’viv oblast.  I’m not sure what the actual dimensions are, but it does not seem very big.

There is a large pysanka monument/roadside chapel located in the village of Bratkivtsi (Братківці), Striys’kyi raion, L’viv oblast.  It was constructed to celebrate the turn of the last Millennium and 2000 years of Christianity. There is a statue of the Virgin Mary inside the big pysanka.

Lastly, there is a monument to the pysanka in Brazil, located in Curitiba.  It has been placed outside of a memorial church/museum in a park in the town, and appears to be made of metal.

The four sides depict different images, all of them traditional or diasporan pysanka motifs, and include a poppy, a tree with deer, and an eight-pointed star (ruzha).

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Vegreville Pysanka with traditional Ukrainian dancers