Egg-straordinarily Beautiful Eggs

Photo by Renagrisa
Photo by Renagrisa
Close up detail of  a traditional beaded pysanka
Close up detail of a traditional beaded pysanka
The Faberge Hen Egg - AFP Photo by Stan Honda

Decorating eggs for Easter has long been a tradition in the UK, whether it's the time honoured favourite, the chocolate egg or more permanent painted varieties. But nowhere has this skill been more exquisitely practised than in Eastern Europe; particularly in Romania, the Ukraine and Russia, where the incredible skill behind eggs such as the Faberge collection and Pysanky have left visitors speechless.

Stuart Morris Textiles appreciates the impact of expert finishing and in the Romanian egg dyeing tradition, a technique called Batik (wax painting) is used to achieve the quite spectacular results you can see in the above photo by Renagris. But we are going to let this craft speak for itself courtesy of a superb film by Titus-Armand Napirlica and Jungles in Paris from National Geographic which also features a V.I.P (very important pet!)

 

An example of traditional gerdany - (L’viv Ethnographic Museum collection)

The indigenous folk art of Pysanka (or egg beading) originates in Bukovyna; from northern Ukrainian and southern Romanian peoples. 
Again using beeswax as a base, this time the eggs are covered in a thick layer which then has glass beads pressed into the surface in a wide variety of designs.

A variation is the form known as Gerdany which is specific to the Ukraine. This form of beading has similarities to the Ibeque beaded necklaces found in parts of Africa. In this instance the women who traditionally make this artwork, create a beaded cover for the egg which is then sewn into place on the egg itself. 

These brightly coloured pieces have developed over time to include pearls, icons and more elaborate beading. Luba Petrusha has created a website dedicated to the art form and cites Hutsul (Ukraine) as being the place where you can most fully appreciate this delicate craft.

Lastly and arguably the most well known form of egg decoration is also without doubt one of the most expensive in existence; the Faberge egg collection.

Started in 1885 to surprise his wife for Easter, the then Tsar Alexander III commissioned Peter Carl Faberge to create something spectacular as a gift. The result is the image you see at the top of this blog. Drawing on obvious similarities from the traditional Russian Matryoshka dolls, Faberge created a golden, ruby-eyed hen within a golden egg, within a white enamel exterior. 

This winning design landed him the title of official jeweller and started a tradition that would last until 1917 and ultimately chart the rise of fall of the Russian royal family. If you would like to read more about the story of Faberge and the revolution click on the image opposite (please note that some content may be unsuitable for younger readers.) 

We hope you have enjoyed today's blog and perhaps feel inspired to be a little more adventurous with your own Easter decorations. Our third and final blog in this series will celebrate our love affair with Easter cuisine, starting with the very first chocolate egg.

Until then, Happy Egg Decorating! 

Peter Carl Faberge at work - www.rferl.org

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