Spider Motifs


Patience and Luck


Fish       Insects

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“Pavuchky” are the most common “insect” motif found on pysanky (they are not actually true insects, because they have eight legs, not six) and are common in Ukrainian folk art in general.  Spider motifs generally have a centrifugal or complex net-like composition, resembling the outline of a spider and its web or a swastika.

The pysanka from eastern Polissia at the top of the page is an example of this type, as is this one from from the Odesa region (both from Binyashevsky):

As with most zoomorphic motifs, the “pavuky” on pysanky rarely look anything like an actual living spider.  They are highly stylized, and the appellation is given to various odd-looking creatures with any number of legs from three on up, as on these pysanka from Podillia and Khersonshchyna:


The motifs called “pavuky” found on the folk pysanky from Poltava to southern Ukraine can also have the appearance of star-like linear rosettes, variations on the star/ruzha motif. The name was apparently given to a huge variety of different motifs, with varying regional usages, including this pysanka from Vinnytsia (eastern Podillia).  It is called «На сорока клинцях павук» (“A spider on forty wedges”), and it is from the village of Yavorivka in Pishchanskyi raion.

This pysanka from Podillia, seen in two views, is called «Павук з мушкою» (Spider with fly). The spider is he complex half rosette; the fly is depicted with two little triangles.  The red lines represent the spider web.

Selivachov provides these examples of the various spider motifs on pysanky.  


  1. 1) Eastern Polissia

  2. 2) Ivano-Frankivsk

  3. 3) Poltava

  4. 4) Western Podillia

  5. 5) Poltava

  6. 7)  Elizavethrad

  7. 8)  Poltava

  8. 9)  Vinnytsia

18) Ivano-Frankivsk

What do spiders symbolize?  In many folk beliefs, spiders and their webs symbolized perseverance, patience. Olena Boriak explains that in some Ukrainian folk beliefs, the earth was suspended on a warp spun by a spider. 

In Ukrainian folk traditions, the spider’s web is associated with fortune telling, with the fulfillment of wishes, and with love.

Ethnographers consider pavuk symbols to be, based on their appearance, sun symbols for the most part.

Fish       Insects