Variations on the Pysanka


On the following pages you will find decorated “eggs” from around the world.  Many of them are Ukrainian, and most are not real eggs.  As I note on a previous page, there are many types of decorated Ukrainian eggs.  While “pysanka” is often taken to mean any type of decorated egg, it actually refers specifically to eggs created by the wax-resist batik method.

By clicking on the underlined links below, you can visit some of my (and my friends’) other decorated eggs.

Decorated Ukrainian Eggs

  1. Krapanky / Крапанки (from krapka / крапка, "a dot") are raw eggs decorated with multicolored drops. They are probably the simplest form of a pysanka.

  2. Dryapanky / Дряпанки (from dryapaty / дряпати, "to scratch") are created by scratching the surface of a dyed egg to reveal the white shell below.

  3. Malyovanky / Мальованки (from malyuvaty / малювати, "to paint") are created by painting or coloring (e.g. with paint and a brush) on an egg.

  4. Beaded Pysanky / Писанки з Бісером  were traditionally made in far western Ukraine, in Bukovyna (a region under Rumanian control and influence throughout the years) and in the Carpatho-Rusyn areas (Trans-Carpathia).  Traditionally, an egg (real or wooden) is completely covered with beeswax, and then beads are pressed into it to create patterns. Some of the more recent examples incorporate pearls, icons, and sequins and use new techniques.

                                Traditional Beaded Pysanky

                                Woven Beadwork Pysanky

                                Modern Beaded Pysanky

                                Bead Applique Pysanky

                                Religious Beaded Pysanky

  1. Wooden Pysanky / Деревяні Писанки  are eggs carved from wood and decorated.  The most common version is eggs painted to resemble pysanky, but with more garish colors and no worries of breakage.  This sort is made in the border areas with Poland (and is common in Poland as well).  In the Carpathians, plain wooden eggs with carving and encrustation/inlay have also been traditionally created.  In central Ukraine, the Petrykivka style of folk painting is applied to wooden eggs as well. In Russia, and areas influenced strongly by Russia, black lacquered eggs with icons (or scenes from folk tales) painted on them are common.  More recently, artists have begun creating intricately painted wooden masterpieces with folk and modern themes.

                                Traditional Painted Wooden Eggs

                                Hutsul Painted Wooden Eggs

                                Hutsul Wooden Eggs

                                White Wooden Eggs

                                Petrykivka Eggs

                                Modern Painted Wooden Eggs

                                Intricately Painted Wooden Eggs

                                Black Lacquer Eggs

                                Wooden “Nakleyanky”

                                ICarved Wooden Eggs

                                Inlaid Wooden Eggs

  1. Ceramic Pysanky The oldest pysanka in existence dates back to the XII-XIII centuries, and is a ceramic one.  Because of the fragility and perishable nature of real eggs, only the ceramic majolica-glazed eggs of Kyivan Rus have survived up to today.  Ukrainians still make decorated ceramic eggs.

  2. Nakleyanky / Наклеянки (from kleyaty / клеяти, "to glue") are created by gluing objects onto an egg. These were traditionally created from real eggs, but many are now made from wooden eggs as well (See “wooden eggs”, above).  This type of decorated egg is more commonly found in Poland, but is also a folk tradition in many western areas of Ukraine.

  3. String and Bead Egg   I found this pysanka in Kyiv in 2005. It is made from various metallic strings and beads, glued together into an abstract pattern.  The lines are vaguely Trypillian.  I really love it.

  4. Wax Egg with Beads  I acquired this egg many years ago, and can’t recall the circumstances.  I haven’t seen any like it since.


Decorated Eggs from Around the World

  1. Glass Eggs   These Chinese Jewels are glass eggs are painted on the inside, using a fine brush placed through a hole in the bottom of egg. It is an ancient Chinese technique, here applied to delicate glass eggs.

  2. Ceramic Eggs: less common, but attractive.

  3. Metal Eggs:  less common, but I do have one example from Turkey, and several examples of Chinese cloisonné (enameled metal).

  4. Stone Eggs:  very common, usually being made from semiprecious minerals, but sometimes from plain carved stones.

  5. Lacquer Eggs:  lacquer is a common Asian decorative process, and is used to create lovely eggs in some cultures.

  6. Wooden Eggs:  also very common, most often they are painted.


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