Traditional Ukrainian

Folk Pysanky


Traditional folk pysanky have been written in Ukraine for many centuries, since early pre-Christian times.  The designs and motifs have evolved over the ages. Pysankarstvo, like many folk arts, is fairly conservative – little change in designs was seen in the designs over time,  because there was magic in the designs, and because pysanky were talismanic objects, so there was little incentive to bring about any drastic change. 

Change has accelerated in the modern era, as pysanky have evolved from being ritual objects to art objects.  Pysanky are now often written for sale or for personal artistic expression, and more emphasis is placed on personal aesthetic considerations or the preferences of the marketplace. 

But the ancient designs and motifs persist, and have been preserved in books, museums and memories.  Many pysankarky are now harkening back to their roots, and recreating thee ancient folk talismans. Some never stopped....

Traditional pysanka designs are both regional and local in nature.  Pysanky from the Carpathian regions (a center of “Market” pysankarstvo) tend to be much more intricate, to have wild animal motifs, and to have lots of oranges and yellows.  Those from Podillia have stylized serpent/berehynia motifs and fewer colors, red, yellow and black usually sufficing. Lemko regions tend towards predominantly drop-pull patterns, while Volynian pysanky tend towards red and green.  Chernihiv and Sokal favor floral motifs, the former simple flowers, the latter complex vinok designs.  And waves are often seen in southern Ukraine, near the Black and Azov Seas.

On the following pages there are discussions of these folk pysanky, those recorded in books and museums, and those still being created by folk pysankarky.  And there are lots of pictures of them--photos, drawings, watercolors--from a variety of sources, ethnographic and modern.  The Outline on the next page can help you navigate.


The usual caveats apply:

Please note that, while the designs may not be my originals, the photos and many of the eggs are my own work.  If you wish to download them to use them for your own purposes–as computer wallpaper, to copy the designs, just to enjoy–feel free to do so.  If you wish to republish them anywhere, please ask my permission and give me credit .  Thanks.

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