Ukrainian Eggs


Types of decorated Ukrainian eggs

The word “pysanka” is thought by many people to refer to any type of decorated egg, but it actually refers specifically to eggs created by a wax resist (batik) method.

Many types of decorated eggs are seen in Ukrainian folk tradition, and these vary throughout the regions of Ukraine.  The types of eggs listed below are real eggs that have been decorated by various techniques; additionally, Ukrainians have a tradition of decorating wooden eggs and creating eggs from clay (ceramic “pysanky”).

    Krashanky / Крашанки (from krasyty / красити, “to color or dye”) are boiled eggs dyed a single color (with vegetable dyes), and are blessed and eaten at Easter.  They are what most people refer to as “Easter eggs.

    Pysanky / Писанки (from pysaty / писанти, "to write") are raw eggs created with the wax-resist method (batik). The designs are "written" with a stylus (traditional pysanka/linear batik – left) or a pinhead (drop-pull pysanka – right). The “ drop-pull” eggs are most common in western Ukraine (among the Lemky and Boyky).


Wooden eggs and beaded eggs are often referred to as "pysanky" because they mimic the decorative style of pysanky in a different medium.  They are pysanky in the same sense that Cadbury chocolate eggs are actually eggs.


    Krapanky / Крапанки (from krapka / крапка, "a dot") are raw eggs decorated with the drops of wax utilizing the wax-resist technique; the drops do not form any designs or shapes, but are applied randomly over the surface of the egg.

    Driapanky / Дряпанки (from driapaty / дряпати, "to scratch") are created by scratching designs into the surface of a dyed egg to reveal the white shell below.


    Maliovanky / Мальованки (from malyuvaty / малювати, "to paint") are created by painting or coloring (e.g. with a marker, ink or paints) on an egg.


   Nakleyanky / Наклеянки (from kleyaty / клеяти, "to glue") are created by gluing objects onto an egg.


    Lystovky / Листовки (from lystya / листя, “leaves”) are created by attaching small leaves and other spring greenery to an egg, and then dyeing it.  When the leaves are removed, their outlines remain.  These are similar to English “Pace eggs.” 

    Biserky / Бісерки (from biser / бісер, “beads”) are created by attaching small beads to the surface of an egg.  The egg was coated with beeswax, and then small beads were pressed into this surface to create designs.  This practice was traditionally limited to Bukovyna, and rarely seen outside of women’s monasteries.

    Travlenky / Травленки (from travlenya / травлення, “etching”) are created by waxing eggs and then etching away the unwaxed areas.  This is not strictly a traditional Ukraine practice, although acid etching was used in the past to create “white” pysanky. A modern version of this practice has been popularized in Ukraine in recent years.

   Linyvky / Лінивки (from linyviy / лінивий, “lazy”) are created by using stickers or egg sleeves to decorate a hard-boiled egg. They are the “lazy man’s pysanka.”  The word is a modern neologism, and is useful to describe the popular shrink-wrapped eggs that have become much more common in the past few years.

All but the krashanky and linyvky (and sometimes lystovanky) are usually meant to be either decorative (as opposed to edible), and the egg yolk and white are either allowed to dry up over time, or removed by blowing them out through a small hole in the egg. Some of the others are referred to by some as "pysanky", but, with the exception of krapanky, which are created by the wax-resist method, that is not the correct usage of the term.

(Note: All terms above are in the plural form.  Singular forms would be the same but with an “-a” ending.)

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