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Symbolism

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PREFACE

The pysanka, a decorated egg which, since pagan times, symbolized nature's rebirth in the spring, was common among all Slavic peoples. As a ritual object celebrating the cult of the sun, various forms of the pysanka were also prevalent among the eastern Mediterranean nations 5,000 to 3,000 years before Christ. With the coming of Christianity, the pysanka became a part of the Easter traditions of various nations, including Ukraine.

Pysanka ornamentation has its own deep-rooted symbolism which is expressed by the decorative designs and motifs. When the artist is unfamiliar with this symbolism or neglects to express it, the pysanka lacks authentic meaning. With the advent of new and more effective writing instruments, the emphasis has shifted from the meaning of the pysanka to perfection of the technique. This has resulted in a competitive attitude among pysanka artists. The beauty of every pysanka is not dependent on fine lines and a great variety of colours. A primitive pysanka in one or two colours, featuring simple but pleasing symbolic design elements, may surpass intricate designs which lack symbolic meaning and artistic expression.

PYSANKA: ICON OF THE UNIVERSE is the result of a long, creative process. It reflects the belief that the creation of a pysanka is more than an expression of beauty. Spiritual and symbolic significance are closely entwined with pysanka decoration. Together with the inherent optimism and love of life which each pysanka-maker brings to her task, these elements unite in the preservation of a treasured art form.

SYMBOLS

In many of the world's cultures, the egg has represented the original source of creation. It was from this egg that the universe was originally born. During the spring cycle of festivals, the ancient pre-Christian peoples used decorated eggs to welcome the sun and to help the sun's rebirth into power and warmth, ensuring fertility of the fields, river, herds, and ultimately, of man. Ancient man believed that before anything else existed, there was only a great cosmic egg. He believed that to recreate this egg and decorate it with the many symbols of fertility, power and life, he would be able to assist the world in remaining alive, powerful and above all, good. Ancient man believed that this original cosmic egg, due to some unknown but definite will, began to expand throughout the primeval night, until it burst, giving birth to all living things. Hence, the egg came to symbolize the greatest of all mysteries that man could experience — The Mystery of Life.

The symbolism of pysanka design blends ancient, pagan rituals with modern, Christian traditions. The pagans celebrated the joyous spring cycle, the rebirth of nature. Christians celebrate the resurrection of Christ, the spiritual rebirth of man.

So many mysteries! The symbolism of the egg itself. The symbolism of colour. The symbolism of individual motifs, an integration of mankind's interrelationship with nature and God. What a complex code to represent the characteristic ways of life of a unique people!

Talismanic Beliefs

In the folk life of Ukrainian people, the pysanka possess talismanic powers. Receipt of a pysanka is not only a token of friendship or esteem but also brings with it protection from harm. Ukrainian ancestors believed that pysanky in the home would bring good fortune, wealth, health, and protection from lightning and fire.

Pysanky are said to possess curative powers for both men and animals. Pysanky were placed in the mangers of cows and horses to ensure safe calving and colting and a prodigious supply of milk for the calves and colts. The beekeeper blessed each beehive with a pysanka and left one for a few days under the first beehive. It was also a custom to set out to pasture the first cattle with a pysanka and willow branch. Pysanky were placed in the nests of hens to encourage laying.

Christian Beliefs

With the acceptance of Christianity in 988 A.D., the pysanka has been part of the Christian tradition and Easter ritual. The pysanka cames to symbolize the rebirth of man, as represented by the Ressurection. Many of the rituals and traditions associated with the spring festivals became incorporated into the joyous Easter celebrations of the new religion. The egg symbol was likened to the tomb from which Christ arose. Rich ornamentation of the egg began and eggs were kept as religious mementos.

It is difficult to ascertain where the pagan beliefs and customs surrounding the art of the pysanka end and where the Christian connotations begin. In actual fact, a subtle blending of both has resulted. Many of the ancient designs and motifs were adopted by the Christians, who indeed gave new meanings to the symbolism. Many of the pagan customs and traditions were adapted to the Christian context, and were retained as part of the Easter celebrations of life and renewal.

Folk Beliefs

Receipt of a pysanka is the ultimate in personalized gifts since each pysanka must have symbolic meaning for the recipient. In Ukraine, specific motifs, designs and colors were designated for certain people. For example, it was the custom to present children and youth with pysanky of bright fields adorned with symbols of the sun or motifs depicting young plant or animal life. The master and mistress were often presented with pysanky depicting the tasks of farming and husbandry such as 'Forty Triangles' symbolizing the forty tasks of life. The meander with its connotations of the continuous thread of life and the sunflowers motif were other popular choices. For the elderly, it was the custom to present a pysanka with a darker field showing the ribbon of life motif (continuous bands encircling) or the heavenly gate motif in preparation for life after death. These designs were also placed on the graves of ancestors. Pysanky with a white field were placed on the graves of children, symbolizing the purity of their young lives.

In addition to the talismanic beliefs mentioned earlier, all Ukrainians, both young and old, carried with them a pysanka during the first two days of the Easter holiday. A custom still retained is that of washing on Easter morning in water in which a pysanka and/or krashanka has been rinsed. The shells of a blessed pysanka were thrown on the roof for good luck. Shells were thrown into streams and rivers and carried off to inform the saintly spirits of the arrival of Easter.

Rituals

The art of decorating the pysanka was and is considered a holy and ritual task. Belief in the power of the pysanka was so strong that specific prayers were recited prior to beginning the work. These prayers guaranteed that the recipient would be endowed with a message of happiness, well-being, joy, good fortune and protection from harm. The pysanka is believed to have power similar to that of a cross.

Fresh hen's eggs were generally used, although crane, goose or duck eggs were also used prior to the 19th Century. It was considered essential to use a live flame for the writing process as this was considered the talismanic descendant of the life-giving sun. Another magical ingredient of the writing process was the use of clean beeswax. This was again entwined with the sun cult. The wax was made from honey; the honey was collected from flowers; flowers grew because of the sun. According to ancient belief, some souls became flowers after death, while some souls were born of flowers.

The mistress chose the quiet time of the later evening to write her pysanky. To set the proper mood, she was to have spent a 'holy' day, without argument, accusation, or sin. Since each artist kept her artistry secret until Easter, it was appropriate that this task was undertaken either alone or only with immediate family members assisting. Absolute quiet was required and generally the elders and young children were already asleep. In the still hours, each individual artist brought to her work the special tone or atmosphere of spirituality which was imparted to the symbolic pysanky. Following completion of the writing and dyeing processes, the pysanka was baked in the oven. This was not only to remove the wax layers. It was also considered a purifying process, the uniting of the pysanka with the force of the life-giving sun.

SYMBOLISM OF THE DESIGN

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Nebozvid — The Universe

This design concept epitomizes the highest forces of nature. Characterized by a dark field, the composition ineludes a representation of the sun, stars and other heavenly bodies. This pysanka represents man's wonder at the mysteries of the universe and incorporates ancient solar symbols which were the most significant in pysanka design.

 

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Vesna — Call of Spring

This is a large grouping of designs which symbolizes the hope of a rapid and safe return of spring. Both dark and bright fields are seen and the predominant motifs are floral. Partial animal representations are sometimes seen as well. These designs are entwined with the magical call of spring and form ideograms representing songs, games and dances of the village people.

 

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Ptashyna —Birds

As messengers of the sun and heaven and the coming of spring, birds were especially revered in Ukraine since they were the carriers of the egg, the physical embodiment of the eternal cycle of creation and life.

They were considered as expediters of the arrival of spring and were assigned talismanic powers for driving out evil. Live birds were often immured in foundations of a home to proclaim or ensure life and happiness of the home because of their close alliance with heaven.

 

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Kola-Obruchky — Rounds or Bands Encircling

This design was composed of three horizontal bands with the main motifs in each division being a tripod with spirals or curls. The tripods were tri-coloured in yellow, red and green. This design incorporated the magical trinity and the sun symbol tripod to symbolize the joy of life, nature's awakening, the everlasting qualities of the universe, as well as peace, love, understanding and goodwill.

 

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Bohynja-Berehynja — Grand Goddess

A parallel grouping of designs relating to the principle of birth and renewal graphically illustrates the reverence for the female principle. The matriarchal symbol Bohynja-Berehynja — Grand Goddess appeared in the 5th and 6th Centuries A.D. This representation was widely seen in embroidery, weaving, rug and wood carving designs. This symbol was also prevalent in the Egyptian (Isis), Babylonian (Istar), Greek (Hera), Thracian (Semele) and Scythian (Tahiti) cultures.

 

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Sorok-Klyntsiw — Forty Triangles

An example of transition of a design concept to the Christian belief is the familiar and popular 'Forty Triangles'. Reflecting the life style of the pre-Christian era, each triangle, by prayer or magical belief, was assigned a specific meaning such as:

• Worship of the heavens — sun, moon, stars.

• Water, earth, air.

• Affairs of husbandry — ploughing, seeding, sprouting, ripening or maturation, gathering of the harvest, threshing.

• Flax, hemp, gardens, orchards, beekeeping, breeding and care of cattle.

• Family affairs — birth of children, growth of children, health of the master, weddings of the young, travel, strength.

The theme of the forty triangles was intimately related to the total life of the people, signifying the forty tasks of life, and the magical number three. In the Christian interpretation, the design signifies the forty day Lenten period, the forty days of Christ's fasting, the forty martyrs or the forty birds hovering around the forty martyrs.

 

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Vorota — Heavenly Gates

Is another design which was adapted to the Christian belief. The original symbolism of this design is steeped in the ancient belief regarding birth and death intertwined with the cult of the sun. The total design concept centers on the theme of heavenly gates through which new-born as well as departing souls travel from and return to the paradise-like regions of the warm sun. The Christian belief regarding birth and everlasting life was easily incorporated into this design.

 

GEOMETRIC MOTIFS

Solar Symbols

Symbols of the sun were the most ancient and most significant motifs of pysanka design. They deified the life-giving, all-embracing, all-renewing, all birth-giving force of the sun. They signified enchantment and praise in its worship. The sun, as a fire symbol was seen as the embodiment of life on earth. (A similar interpretation was given the cross in pre-Christian times). Almost every pysanka, whether ancient or contemporary in design, incorporates one or more symbols of the sun. These include variations of the circle, swastika, tripod and star or rose.

 

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Kolo — Circle

The circle stems from the Bronze Age and is the most naturalistic representation of the sun. It represents completeness, continuity and the cyclical nature of the universe. The pre-Christian interpretation denoted the sun as the centre of the universe, the giver of fertility, the victor over evil and darkness. The circle containing a dot is said to represent the moment when the earth receives the light of the sun and comes to life in the spring. In the Christian tradition, the circle may be associated with God because of its perfection and its ability to unite.

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Lomanyj Khrest — Swastika

A very common motif, the swastika is a symbol of happiness, blessings, good fortune and good will. These interpretations are common to the ancient sun symbols.

The swastika is often seen with rounded corners or in the form of the windmill or maltese cross. The hooks are sometimes stylized to form leaves.

 

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Trynih — Tripod

A three part swastika, this solar symbol is known from Trypilljan times. Signifying a trinity such as birth, life and death, or man, woman and child, it reflects the significance of the magical number three.

 

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Zirka or Pozha — Star or Rose

It is one of the most beautiful and versatile of the geometric representations and is said to signify purity, life, the giver of light, the centre of all knowledge as well as beauty, elegance and perfection. It also denotes the eye or divine will of God. In the Christian context, the star or rose becomes the herald of Christ's birth, a symbol of God's love toward man.

To this day, these primary solar symbols remain as the basic symbolic forms in the art of the pysanka. With the acceptance of Christianity, the cross replaced the sun symbols as the representation of rebirth or eternal life. The sun and cosmic symbols today signify happiness, prosperity and good fortune.

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Kapanky — Dots

Dots of all sizes represent the stars in the heavens, tears or fixed points that have no beginning or end. They may represent a cuckoo's egg, which is a symbol, of spring and carries with it the magical powers of predicting the future. A dot with a circle enclosing it represents the axis of the universe, eternity seen within an egg.

 

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Trykutnyk — Triangle

The triangle is a very basic ideogram and, like the tripod, always signifies a trinity. In pagan times, the trinity represented was the elemental air, fire and water or the heavens, earth and air.

In Christian symbolism, the Holy Trinity is most often represented.

 

Prjama — Straight Line

The straight line encircling the egg symbolizes eternity or the continuous thread of life.

 

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Doroha-Smuha — Ribbon — Belt

This motif also symbolizes eternity and is almost always seen in unbroken form so that the thread of life will not be broken.

 

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Miandyr — Embattled Line

This variation signifies a forest or enclosure, something to be contained.

 

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Zubchasta — Engrailed and Invected Line

This suggests a place of meeting or union of opposites such as land meeting water.

 

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Lomana — Indented Line — Saw

This is a common line variation indicating fire as the symbol of the sun or life-giving heat. It may also represent water or waves with its growth and cleansing properties.

 

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Bezkonechnyk — Meander

This ancient form of the line is popular in all regions of Ukraine. In the isolated mountainous regions, it is small and delicate. In the central and eastern regions, it is more expansive reflecting the influences of open spaces and water. This motif emphasizes harmony and motion depicting infinity, waves and immortality.

 

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Resheto — Sieve

A very common motif on the beautiful Hutsul pysanky. the sieve is a symbol for dividing good from evil.

 

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Koshyk — Basket

This ideogram suggests contained knowledge, motherhood as well as the giver of life and gifts.

 

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Drabynka — Ladder

A motif taken from everyday agricultural life, the ladder is symbolic of searching; rising above the petty problems of life.

 

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Hrebin' — Comb

This motif is sometimes classified as a sun symbol because of its teeth or rays. It may also suggest the putting of things in order. Three teeth or rays may symbolize the Holy Trinity in the Christian tradition or the three major stages of life; birth, adulthood and death.

 

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Hrabli — Rakes

Similar in meaning to the comb, rakes have the additional reference to the harvest.

 

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Kucheri — Bends

Bends signify defence or protection.

 

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Spyrali — Spirals

The mystery of life and death is portrayed by spirals since they denote divinity or immortality.

 

Khrest — Cross

Even in ancient times amongst the Ukrainians, the cross was revered as a symbol of life. The basic two-line cross and the cross pine or stojachyj khrest were used as motifs in pre-Christian times. With the adoption of Christianity by the Ukrainians, in 988 A.D., the cross was incorporated into the design of the pysanka as a symbol of the Crucifixion of Christ and His suffering and death for the sins of the world. There are many variations of the cross in pysanka design. They are always symbolic of the Christian faith.

 

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Khrest — Two Line Cross

The simplest form of the star, this cross can be said to represent four cardinal points of reality, or the four ages of the world; child, youth, man and elder. It also brings to mind the hub of the universe and the-life-giving energy of the sun. The addition of spirals to the two-line cross enhances the concept of the star, sun or fire. The maltese cross is another variation of this motif.

 

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Stojachyj Khrest — Standing Cross

This motif was found even before Christian times in some areas, as a symbol of clan worship, and later incorporated into the Christian context.

 

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Andryjivs'kyj Khrest — St. Andrew's Cross

Because St. Andrew was the patron saint who preached Christianity in Ukraine, his X-shaped cross became a popular pysanka motif.

 

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Pravoslavnyj Khrest — Orthodox Cross

This form of the cross also became prominent since the Christian rite adopted by the Ukrainians was that of Byzantine Orthodoxy. The Orthodox faith was accepted by Prince Volodymyr the Great who was married to Anna, the sister of the Byzantine Emperor. Volodymyr, a wise and understanding leader, Christianized the realm and established a precedent for subsequent rulers. He established highly-organized social services and a mitigated, fair version of the Byzantine legal code. The Orthodox cross, with its diagonal lower bar, is distinctive. It is said to truly represent the cross of the Crucifixion. Historians state that, beginning in the ninth Century, crucifixes began to appear with the lower bar or footboard in a horizontal position. This was said to provide a resting place for the feet of Christ. Although the first Byzantine crosses had a horizontal footboard, Orthodox crosses during the tenth and eleventh Centuries showed the lower bar in the diagonal position.

There are several interpretations regarding the symbolism of the Orthodox cross. One of these states that the raised side of the footboard points upward to indicate the lightened burden for believers. The lowered side represents the heavier burden of disbelievers. It is also believed that the raised side denotes the probable uplifting of believers to Christ in his second coming. The extra horizontal bar at the top of the cross represents the inscription board which was nailed above Christ on the cross. It held the inscription: "This is Jesus, The King of the Jews", which was written in Greek, Latin and Hebrew.

 

PLANT MOTIFS

Compositions in which plant motifs predominate fall under the category of Vesna or spring, symbolizing the rebirth of nature and life. These designs reflect the unrestrained longing expressed by the dormant plants. These pysanky are talismanic not only for the growth of plants but for the general well-being of humans as well. It was a custom to place pysanky and krashanky in the gardens and orchards to ensure prodigious growth. Plant motifs are most often stylized. They may predominate in a design or they may be used to supplement and create a harmonious whole with geometric forms.

 

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Jalychka or Sosonka — Pine Tree

This motif was known in the Trypilljan culture and is common to most parts of Ukraine. Its qualities of permanent greenery and endurance symbolize strength, boldness, growth and eternal life.

 

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Derevo — Broad Leafed or Deciduous Tree

Known as the tree of life, this design is a symbol of renewal, creation and organic unity. It is usually surrounded by stags or birds, often both. Common to many cultures, this representation is seen throughout the world.

 

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Jablunja — Apple Tree

This is a beautiful example of stylized plant representation. Very contemporary in design, it is, nevertheless, a pre-Christian ideogram. Other orchard trees such as the pear or plum are occasionally seen as well.

 

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Verbs — Willow

In the Ukrainian religion, the Willow branch is traditionally blessed on Palm Sunday. After the Divine Liturgy, people greet each other with light swats of the willow saying: "The willow beats, not I, Easter comes in a week; be healthy as the waters, beautiful as the dew and wealthy as the earth". Spring dances are often performed around the boughs of the willow as well. There was an ancient belief that the sun was held in the sky on a large willow.

 

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Vynohrad — Grape Vine

This motif symbolizes continuity, good fellowship and strong, loyal love. Representing the wine of the Holy Communion, it also denotes the love of God and of Christ for mankind.

 

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Jabluchky — Apples or Slyvy — Plums

These orchard motifs denote knowledge, health and wisdom.

 

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Trylysnyk — Three Leaf

This ancient symbol denotes immortality and eternal love. The plant most often stylized is the barvinok or periwinkle which forms an integral part of spring and wedding rituals. The traditional wedding wreath is fashioned from the periwinkle plant, the sacred plant of Venus the goddess of love. Like the evergreen, it retains its green colour year round. From the Christian viewpoint, it symbolizes pure love and the eternity of the Holy Trinity.

 

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Dubovyj Lystok — Oak Leaf

Many regions of Ukraine display a version of this ideogram. Highly stylized, it signifies strength and persistence. As the leaves of the oak tree die in the fall only to be replaced in the spring, so are humans caught up in this cycle of life and death.

 

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Rozha — Rose or Zirka — Star

Used interchangeably with the star motif, the rose is a predominant floral motif and occurs in many varied forms. Some variations are highly stylized and abstracted. This ideogram is symbolic of the female principle, wisdom, beauty and elegance.

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Konvalija — Lily of the Valley

An early spring flower, the lily of the valley suggests purity and humility as typified in the young bride.

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Sonjashnyk — Sunflower

An ancient floral symbol denoting the sun, this symbol signifies the love of God because of its intense love of light. It is allied with the concept of motherhood and, therefore, becomes a life symbol.

 

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Vazon — Vase

This is a striking floral design predominantly from the region of Sokal'. This region also displays characteristic floral representations showing the whole flower.

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Ohirok — Cucumber

Known since the pre-Christian era, the cucumber is a symbol of the preservation of life because of its ability to retain water.

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Kolossja — Ears of Cereal Plants

Pysanky with representation of grain motifs predict a generous harvest. There are also spring games and dances depicting this ideogram.

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Pshenytsja — Wheat

This representation is less commonly used than other plant motifs. Its ritual significance is more common in the oral tradition of the Ukrainians. However, its importance is striking since it represents man's position in the cycle of life. In pre-Christian belief, the wheat held the soul of the clan. It was as revered as the earth. The Christian adaptation denotes the mead of the Holy Communion with its symbolism of God's love for man.

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Kucheri — Curls

This floral motif showing sprials or curls represents continuity.

ANIMAL MOTIFS

Motifs based on zoomorphic representation are not as commonly used as are other categories. Generally speaking, designs from the Carpathian mountain region of western Ukraine use these motifs along with geometric forms. Their use reflects the close association of the mountainous peoples with their natural surroundings. Many of these motifs were in use during pre-Christian times.

 

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Whole Representations Olen' — Stag

An ancient ideogram dating back to the Trypilljan culture, the stag signifies leadership, victory, joy and masculinity.

 

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Konyk — Horse

The horse appears as the ancient sign of the sun. Archaeologists claim that the horse was first domesticated in Ukraine. A horse cult was popular along with the ancient cult of the sun. The konyk motif faces away from the sun as it was believed that the konyk pulled the sun on its daily journey. Not only does this motif symbolize wealth or prosperity, endurance and speed: it also emphasizes the motion of the sun.

 

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Baran — Ram

Chiefly a male symbol, it represents leadership and strength in the face of opposition. The popular motif of numerous variations also suggests perserverance and dignity.

 

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Pivnyk — Rooster

This motif is considered a talisman of coming good fortune. In ancient times, it was related to the coming of the sun. It also denotes exultation and vigilance. As a symbol of masculinity, it predicts a rich married life with the blessing of many children.

 

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Kurochka — Hen

Symbolic of fertility, the revered hen is the bearer of the talismanic egg.

 

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Ptahky — Birds

Many different species of birds were considered to be harbingers of spring. The swallow foretold the coming of spring to the hospodar or householder; the stork symbolized the coming of new babies; the lark brought spring into the fields; the nightingale announced it to the orchards; while ducks and geese were precursors of spring to the lakes and rivers.

The humble sparrow denotes community life or human attachment. Since the sparrow never flies south for the winter, it represents the soul of man striving to be at one with God under any conditions.

 

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Metelyk — Butterfly

Representing the pleasure and frivolity of childhood, the butterfly motif suggests the ascent of the soul into immortality. It also reminds us that things of delicate beauty must take their own course rather than be contained.

 

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Pavuk — Spider

This ideogram was first seen as a variation of the sun motif with projecting strokes or rays. It symbolizes patience, artistry and industry.

Ryba — Fish

The fish, a symbol of Christianity, suggests abundance, baptism, regenerative powers and sacrifice.

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Kurjachi Lapky — Hen's Feet

This is a delightful motif which stresses protection of the earth toward her young. They also denote guidance or direction of the young in their search for knowledge.

 

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Husjachi Lapky — Goose Feet

These represent the soul or spirit as well as giving an intimation of warning or wakefulness.

 

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Rohy — Horns

This motif suggests nobility, wisdom and triumph over problems. There is also an implication of manhood and leadership.

 

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Rizhky — Ram Horns

Strong leadership or further strength in the face of opposition as well as perseverance and dignity are suggested by this motif.

 

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Vedmezhi Lapy — Bear's Paws

The bear was associated with the 'Lisovyk' or forest guardian spirit and this motif speaks of bravery, wisdom, strength and endurance as well as the coming of the spring. It also suggests a protective concept and is associated with the master of a home, the hospodar.

 

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Zajachi Vushka — Rabbit's Ears

This ideogram denotes the humility of man as he attentively listens to the lessons offered by nature.

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Vovchi Zuby — Wolves' Teeth

Wolves teeth denote loyalty, wisdom and a firm grip. So strong was the talismanic belief in their power that wolves' teeth were given as amulets to both children and adults to help teething and to prevent toothaches.

 

OTHER MOTIFS

 

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Tserkvy — Churches

The church also appears at the time of the acceptance of Christianity. The basic outline depicts stylized versions of the beautiful wooden churches of the Carpathian mountains, with their characteristic triangular roofs. This motif appears only in western Ukraine. The sieve motif within the outline represents the Church's ability to separate good from evil. The motifs used are symbolic in nature; a combination of crosses, triangles and quadrangles. More rarely seen are the partial representations such as windows and belfries.

 

SYMBOLISM OF COLOUR

The colours used in pysanka design are steeped in symbolism. Each region of Ukraine uses characteristic colour combinations in its designs. The most ancient pysanky were composed of only one or two colours. The most magical ancient pysanky were considered to be those having four or five colours, each carrying a message of good will for the recipient such as happy family life, peace, love, good health, or success. Briefly, the meanings associated with color in pysanka design are as follows:

Yellow This is the symbol of light and purity. It speaks of youth, happiness, the harvest, hospitality, love and benevolence. It is the colour consecrated to the light deities and is the Christian symbol of recognition and reward.
Orange

Symbolic of endurance, strength and worthy ambition, orange is the colour of fire and flame. It represents the red of passion tempered by the yellow of wisdom. It is the symbol of the golden, everlasting sun.

Green As seen in the spring renewals, green symbolizes the breaking of shackles, freedom from bondage. It is the colour of fertility, freshness, health and hopefulness. In the Christian context, it represents bountifutness, hope and the victory of life over death. It is the colour of Christmas, Easter and Epiphany.
Red The magical colour of folklore, red is considered a positive colour signifying action, fire, charity, spiritual awakening. It also glorifies the sun and the joy of life and love. Consequently, pysanky with red fields or motifs are typically designated for children or youth. In the Christian symbolism, it denotes the divine love and passion of Christ.
Black Said to represent the absolute, constancy, eternity or the womb, black may also denote death, fear and ignorance. Black and white pysanky are said to signify respect for the souls of the departed. Black in opposition to red is said to signify ignorance arising from passions, while in opposition to white it is believed, by some, to denote ignorance of mind.

Brown

Brown is symbolic of the mother earth, bringing forth her bountiful gifts.
Blue Blue is used sparingly. It signifies the blue skies or the life-giving air and is a talisman of good health.
White Purity, virginity, innocence, and birth, are symbolized with this colour.
Purple When used in pysanka ornamentation, purple speaks of fasting, faith, patience and trust.

 

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