”What do you know about pysanka?”
Exhibition of the collection of pysankas by Valentyna Voitkova and the "Pysanka" group (Dunaiivtsi)
18 April 2024 - 22 May 2024

The tradition of egg worship is very old and existed long before the adoption of Christianity. Cosmogonic myths, in which the egg plays a major role, are widespread in all corners of the Earth and all of them proclaim the idea of the origin of the universe from an egg. Therefore, different nations have rituals associated with the symbolism of the egg as a personification of the sun, life, fertility, wealth, health, beauty, rebirth and resurrection. Time passed, and the symbols lost their deeply sacred meaning. All that remained was the connection with Easter, children’s games, and spring groves. The pagan symbols acquired a different interpretation and meaning, gradually mixing with Christian motifs.
Pysanka is a unique artifact of Ukrainian culture. Pierced with a “kryvulka”, dotted with “ruzhas” and “shamrocks”, and illuminated with a “tryhver”, it has played an important role in the spiritual life of a person for centuries.
“Starting in the nineteenth century, when ethnography emerged as a science and scholars who studied Easter eggs, researchers formed collections and museumized them, and regional names of individual symbols and ornamental motifs were recorded at the same time,” notes art historian Diana Klochko. Pysanka art was widespread throughout Ukraine, but with the advent of Soviet rule, it began to decline, as pysankas are closely associated with religious rituals. The existence of this art form was hushed up, and it was erased from people’s memory. In the central and eastern regions of Ukraine, this almost led to the destruction of pysanky. With the restoration of independence, Easter egg painting, like other folk traditions, was revived. In 1992, in the wake of the revival, the International Congress of Pysankars was held in Kyiv, which highlighted possible aspects of scientific research into this phenomenon.
Today, the art of pysanka has become one of the most interesting phenomena of Ukrainian culture, one of the richest ornamental sources. The tradition of pysanky is characterized by a variety of techniques and regional specificity of the symbols depicted on a colored or monochromatic background. Thus, the pysankas of Podillia are quite restrained. They are usually made black or brown, which symbolizes fertile land. The pattern itself is applied in black, red, and white colors. Less commonly – yellow and green. Among the patterns, you can find those that decorate towels, embroidered shirts and pottery – geometric ornaments, animal and plant motifs.
A variety of both traditional and modern techniques for decorating Easter eggs are presented at the exhibition, and their ornaments demonstrate Easter egg symbols not only from Podillia but also from other regions of Ukraine. In addition, there are Easter egg beads, a “pysanka-motanka” doll, home Easter egg decorations, compositions and flower vases made of Easter eggs – more than 300 exhibits in total.
These are the works of the students of the Pysanka group and their teacher Valentyna Voitkova, who has been directing her energy and inspiration to the development of the creative personality of each of her students for many years. The highlight of the exhibition is Easter eggs made in the author’s technique of decorating the surface of the egg, the so-called “grain eggs” (ingredients: egg, PVA glue, grain and seeds of various plants: buckwheat, rice, millet, sesame, peas, dope, flax and grass seeds). “Today, among the various techniques of decorating Easter eggs, the grain technique of inlaying the surface of an egg is also a popular one. An unconventional grain pysanka carries creativity of thinking, originality of the idea, unusual execution and is a wonderful energy amulet,” the artist notes. Modern pysankas, both young and old, use new colors, new techniques and materials; they organize festivals, workshops and exhibitions – all of which only enrich the centuries-old traditions of the Ukrainian people.
Today, Easter eggs are created not only by Easter egg makers, but also by professional designers and artists who either adapt the experience of past generations to the realities of today or create Easter eggs that are fundamentally different from traditional ones, as they demonstrate the author’s statement. Despite numerous changes in traditions and eras, the living tradition of Easter egg making continues to develop, overcoming all oppression.

For reference:

Valentyna Voitkova (born in 1963, Sichyntsi village, Dunaiivtsi district, Khmelnytskyi region) is the head of the creative team of the Pysanka group (founded in 2005) of the municipal institution Center for Out-of-School Education of the Dunaiivtsi City Council.
2012 – graduated from the Ivan Ohienko Kamianets-Podilskyi National University (specialty “Fine Arts. Methods of Educational Work”);
2015 – developed a textbook “Innovative Technologies in Easter Egg Making”, which presents the author’s curriculum of grain machinery “Pysankove Zernyatko”, according to which the team of Easter egg makers works (the textbook was awarded a first degree diploma at the regional pedagogical exhibition “Education of Khmelnytskyi Region on the Ways of Reform”);
2018 – awarded the honorary award “Flagship of Extracurricular Education”;
2023 – the Pysanka group was awarded the honorary title of “People’s Art Collective”.
Pysankars are participants and winners of numerous festivals and competitions, including:
– X International Children and Youth Festival of Folk Art “Emerald Origins” (Mukachevo);
– X, XI, XII All-Ukrainian Open Folklore Festival “Pysanka” (Kolomyia);
– V All-Ukrainian Ethnofestival “Bolokhivski Harty” (Starokostiantyniv);
– V Anniversary All-Ukrainian Exhibition and Competition “Talented! Persistent! Successful!” (Kyiv); – All-Ukrainian contest of creative pupils and students “Chubynskyi Fest” (Boryspil). The artist actively cooperates with Nova Ushytsia secondary special boarding school for children with hearing impairments and Dunaiivtsi district society of disabled people. The team launched an annual district festival-contest “Visiting Pysanka”.
Maryna Zaslavska, researcher at the KhRMA

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