TUCA "Pysanka" Workshop

Pysanky “writing” was once again brought to colorful life when TUCA brought another workshop to the Virginia Beach Library, on March 29, 2009.  TUCA president, Nadia Hoots; Cultural Chairman, Elaine Hampton; and pysanky Artist-in-Residence, Joanna Griffin conducted the fifth annual workshop for what the VBL Coordinator called, "the most popular workshop at the library."

More than two dozen (no, not eggs)  men, women  and teens enthusiastically prepared to create their own pysanky. The class listened to Elaine explain how they were fortunate to participate in a very ancient tradition, unique only to Ukraine.  She told how pysanky were found in ancient archaeological digs; the pagan Ukrainians using the egg as symbol of the sun, returning in glory in the Spring.  Christian Ukraine (988 A.D.)   then continued to use some of the same images on the eggs, giving Christian symbolism:  the sun represents the Son of God and His glorious Resurrection.

The word “pysanka” comes  from the word in Ukrainian “pysaty”, which means, “to write”.   One “writes” a pysanka, as one would “write” a religious icon.  And since pysanky are given to friends, family and even “non-friends” in the spirit of forgiveness and peace, we could consider pysanky a gesture of peace, therefore, spiritual in some aspects.

Nadia  welcomed the group and spoke about other Ukrainian traditions.  She described how Ukrainians have traditional Easter foods:  kovbasa, edible pysanky, cheese, butter, Paskha (Paschal bread)  brought to the Church and blessed by the priest.  She also showed photographs of how ancient pysanky designs are being used and given credit in  haute-couture fashion:  Gucci has incorporated some of the geometric patterns of pysanky in a current clothing line.

Joanna explained the steps to be taken to create a pysanka.  She showed the class some of the intricate, beautiful pysanky that both she and her mother, Ingemaj Korolyshyn,  (who had taught in previous classes) had made.  She encouraged the class to use the hand-outs of symbols, division of the egg, and examples of simple egg designs.  Many of the participants chose to create their own designs.  TUCA  member, Lisa Froze and her daughter-in-law enthusiastically created beautiful, intricate designs, foregoing the simple Lemko region style egg:  white lines on one color egg.

At the end of the three and a half hours, there were many “satisfied customers”, new and renewed friendships, and many unique and beautiful pysanky made to carry on the ancient tradition of Ukrainian pysanky.  

Submitted by Elaine Hampton

Cultural, NewsTUCA