Frog Motifs


Amphibian Pysanky


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Frog motifs are not often seen on pysanky. They are a not uncommon motif in embroidery, as in Podillia, where they are diamond shapes with extended crossed sides.  Selivachov gives these two examples of frog motifs on pysanky, also from Podillia.  He describes these motifs as bilateral signs, with lines radiating from a central axis at an angle of 45°.


This is one such pysanka from Elyjiw; it is called «Жабки» (Frogs), and is from Bilousivka, Тulchynskyi raion, Vinnytsia oblast (Podillia).

This is another example from Elyjiw, but, in this case, it is «Жабині лапки» (Frog feet) and is from the Kyiv region.  The motif is quite odd, and not one I’ve seen anywhere else.

Selivachov notes that frogs are rarely found in Ukrainian folk tales or legends, and, when they appear, usually are depicted negatively. The frog was connected to the world of illness and death, but also with reproductive powers and fecundity.  Frogs, having passed in their lifetime from an aqueous environment to a terrestrial one, were thought to have been magically transformed creatures. For that reason, they should not be killed for fear of provoking illness or death.