The Art of Pisanki Easter Eggs

The centuries-old art of pisanki is a wax-resist method of dying Easter eggs, much like batik. The word comes from the verb “to write” – as the designs are not painted on but written with 100% pure beeswax. Every Eastern European country has its own version.

Pisanki Easter Eggs (kakisky | morgueFile.com)

Photo credit: kakisky | morgueFile.com

Eggs are a symbol of spring and rebirth around the world and they have become a symbol of Easter and the Resurrection. In Eastern Europe, decorating eggs during the long, cold winters in anticipation of warmer days and the end of Lent became an art form. The symbols, colors and styles all differ by country and even by region within a country. What remains universal is the drawing or writing on a hard-cooked egg, raw or blown egg with melted beeswax using a stylus known as pysak.

Pisanki Easter Egg (lukeok | morgueFile.com)

Photo credit: lukeok | morgueFile.com

How Pisanki Are Made: Beeswax is heated in a small bowl or jar lid on a stovetop or hot plate, and then scooped up by the stylus as needed. The molten wax is applied to the white egg by rotating the egg, not the hand. The egg is then dyed one color. More wax designs are applied and the egg is dyed another color, and so on. The dye sequence is always light to dark. After the final color, the wax is removed by heating it gently over a candle flame and rubbing off the wax with a cloth or paper towel. The intricate designs and the beautiful colors are now revealed.

The Gift of Pisanki: Pisanki are typically made to be given to family and close friends as a symbolic wish for the gift of life. They are hollow so they can be displayed all year and saved from year to year, ensuring good health and prosperity. The krasanki, or solid color eggs, are made to be eaten. The eggs that have been blessed on Holy Saturday are considered sacred and their shells are never thrown out. Instead, they are buried in the garden or crop fields in hopes of a good harvest. The water used to cook the eggs is also saved to water fruit trees to ensure sweet fruit. At the traditional Polish Easter breakfast after Mass, a blessed egg is shared by the family while exchanging good wishes.

The Polish Art Center located at 9539 Jos. Campau in Hamtramck, carries a full line of pisanki supplies along with many Polish treasures. They also offer classes in pisanki egg decorating for ages 6 years and older. Their website is: www.PolArtCenter.com.

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