Saturday, April 5, 2008

Govinda - European Egg Painting

European Egg Painting

The tradition of decorating eggs goes back to pagan times in Europe where eggs where painted and given as gifts and used in celebrations, especially at the beginning of spring. Decorative eggs were also an aspect of the Christian church with the painted eggs being exchanged at Easter as a sign of new life. Painting and decorating eggs became a popular tradition in Russia and the rest of Europe.

There are various techniques that can be used to decorate the eggs, which are usually those of a chicken. They can be hand painted using a fine brush or the pattern can be applied by the process of wax-resist, similar to batik. While the chicken egg is still full, the design is sketched on. The egg is then dipped into a series of dyes starting with the lightest colour. In between the dips, more wax is applied and the pattern slowly builds up. The wax is then removed and the egg varnished. The inside is removed by drilling a small hole in the bottom and blowing it out.

The Ukraine is especially known for their egg paintings. Different regions of the Ukraine have their specialties for egg ornamentation. For example, Kiev painted eggs are multi-coloured (beginning with light pastel colours to dark ones), Podil eggs are decorated with delicate plant ornamentation, Lvov eggs are more geometrical, Gutsul eggs astonish by the difficulty of their thin geometrical ornament and bright yellow colour range. There are no limits to the possibilities for creativity.

Egg decorating made a revolution in 1884 when Peter Carl Fabergé, a Russian jeweller crafted a splendid egg for the Tsar of Russia to give to his wife, which became a tradition each year. These pieces are in museums and private collections worldwide.

No comments: