Deer Motifs


Sun bearers


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The stag is a sun symbol, and can be found on pysanky from the Carpathian regions, particularly those of the Hutsuls.  Like other animals represented on pysanky, deer motifs were highly abstracted and non-representational.  In the case of deer, only the males (stags) were depicted, and were identified by their prominent antlers.


In ancient Ukrainian mythology, it was believed that the sun remained underground at night, and that the stag carried it up into the heavens on its antlers every morning. Because of its gift of heavenly fire, the stag was felt to be charitable, and linked to the development of farming, trade and skills.


The stag carried the sun to the west, towards the land of death.  This led to the belief that the stag carried the souls of the dead to the nether world. You can see examples of deer motifs on this Hutsul pysanka from Binyashevsky:

Deer are most commonly seen on Hutsul pysanky.  Below are two such pysanky collected by Olena Kulchytska in the early 20th century.


Deer (stags) are soften depicted in pairs, sometimes standing on either side of a tree.....the tree of life.  This is an example of paired stags from a Hutsul pysanka from Kosmach, and on a Hutsul pysanka from Elyjiw:


And here we have two Diasporan examples of this type of motif:


And here are several examples from Elyjiw of diasporan pysanky with stag motifs.  The third one appears to me to be either from Kosmach, or a fairly good imitation of such a pysanka.


For some reason, deer are often pictured on Hutsul pysanky with birds near or on them.  I do not know why this is so.  You can see this in the Kulchytska pysanka above, on this more recent Kosmach pysanka.

Pysanky with stag motifs are often seen in the Diaspora; among traditional Ukrainian folk pysanky, they are seen primarily on Hutsul pysanky.