Eggs of Many Colors: Bridges Between Cultures

Pysanky are intricately decorated Ukrainian eggs with symbols. The custom dates back over 2,000 years.

For thousands of years, the egg has been a powerful and ancient symbol of rebirth and the Spring Equinox  Today,  most historians believe that the holiday of Easter and the practice of decorating and coloring eggshells has its roots in ancient pagan culture.  

Sumerian, Babylonian, Persian, and pre-dynastic Egyptian cultures all celebrated the return of Spring.  These cultural relationships probably influenced early Christian and Islamic cultures in those regions, as they were spread through trade, religion, and political links from the areas around the Mediterranean.

Ostrich egg painted with red lines. Punic artwork found at the Villaricos necropolis in Cuevas del Almanzora (Province of Almeria, Andalusia, Spain), and dated between 6th and 4th centuries BC (Iron Age II). National Archaeological Museum of Spain (Madrid).

60,000 year old engraved ostrich eggshells have been discovered in South Africa , decorated with engraved hatched patterns. There is evidence that, even in ancient Roman culture, eggs decorated with vegetable dyes using onion skins, beets, and carrots were given as gifts during the spring festivals.

In Persia and present day Iran, the celebration of the New Year, incorporates colored eggs as part of the ceremonial Nowruz table. This 13-day spring festival falls on or around the vernal equinox in March and is believed to have originated in modern day Iran as part of the Zoroastrian religion. 

One theory for the name Easter, is that it probably came from Eastre, the Saxon name of the goddess of spring and fertility, Her festival was celebrated on the day of the vernal equinox; traditions associated with the festival survive in the Easter rabbit, a symbol of fertility, and in colored Easter eggs.

Mexican Cascarones

Civilizations worldwide have created rituals to celebrate a fertile spring, a time of renewal, regeneration and resurrection. Newer legends blended folklore and Christian beliefs and like the holiday of Easter itself, the art and craft of decorating eggs with different colors has also evolved over time.

Faberge Egg

The renowned Russian court artist and jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé made exquisitely decorated precious metal and gemstone eggs for the Romanov Dynasty. These Fabergé eggs resembled standard decorated eggs, but they were made from gold and precious stones.

This new book shows the varied sources for the folk art of coloring and decorating eggs, while demonstrating their  complexity in design and symbolism.

Eastern European cultures have exceptionally strong traditions of decorating eggs.  Created for hundreds of years in the Urkraine and other Slavic countries, the  extraordinarily delicate and beautiful  Pysanky eggs are highlighted — their  history and methods of decorating are discussed in the book.

 

Showing how the cultural traditions have merged and evolved over several thousand years of  history, this is a  book to enjoy with your family.

  • The Egg of Many Cultures:  Transforming a Celebration of the Rites of Spring to Easter
  • ISBN  978-0-943488-15-8
  • Ebook, 60 pages, fully illustrated, 7″ x 7″
  • Price:     $12.95
  • Order through paypal below:



NOTE FROM THE EDITOR:     When you order the ebook with the  button above,  the download  link will then be sent to you in a separate email.   Please make sure that you are giving the correct email address, otherwise, I cannot reach you.   After you have placed your order, it is sent to me for verification so it may take a couple of hours —   I am in North American  East Coast time zone.

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