Pysanky Motifs

Geometric Motifs

Geometric motifs are the oldest and most widely used form of decoration. Examples of these are triangles, ribbons or belts, stars, crosses, and circles.

Dots are frequently used and may be small or large. These are at time scattered over the entire field of the design to suggest stars or many also represent Mary’s tears.

The triangle is widely used and may be small or large. This is an ancient symbol which symbolizes any trio ie air, fire, and water and more recently the Holy Trinity. The pysanka known as “The Forty Days of Lent” is divided into forty triangles, which represent the forty days and nights Jesus Chris spent fasting.

Ribbons, belts, and lines encircling the egg with no beginning or end are called the endless lines, symbolizing eternity.

The six or eight point star or rose and circles of various sizes are symbols of the sun. These significant happiness, protection from harm, well being, and good fortune.

Plant Motifs

The whole plant or parts are often drawn on the egg. These motifs do not represent the plant in natural detail but rather are stylized versions of the plant.

The “pine tree” motif can be drawn in many combinations. It is even somtimes placed in the form of a cross. Pinetree motifs symbolize everlasting life and youth.

The tree is drawn with fine lines extending from trunk to depict branches. Trees symbolize the “Tree of Life” or strength.

Other popular plant motifs are periwinkles, oak leaves, grapes, wheat, and pussy willows.

Animal Motifs

The animal motif dates back to ancient times. The more common animals depicted on pysanky are deer, horses, fish, butterflies, birds, and hens. At times only parts of the animals are drawn eg ram’s horns, hen’s feet, or duck’s feet. The hen symbolizes fertility, the deer, wealth and prosperity.