Pysanky: the art of making Ukrainian Easter eggs

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“It all started when there were pagan gods and the rite-of-spring,” Halyna Mudryj explained in her introduction of pysanky -decorated Ukrainian eggs- to her classes this spring at the Creative Alliance. Although now associated with Easter, 2000 years ago, pysanky were decorated as offerings to pagan gods, especially the sun god, Dazhboh, considered the giver of life. Used as talismans for bringing good fortune and keeping evil at bay, eggs were also symbols of life and rebirth, says Mudryj (pronounced “muud-ree”). As the Ukraine region became Christianized in 988 A.D., pagan pictures of nature such as animals, water and the sun took on new meaning and made room for crosses and other Christian symbols on the eggs. For example waves, which formerly represented the god of water, now represented “Christ walking on water,” she says.

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