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Ukrainian decorated egg
Pysanki, Ukrainian decorated egg, 2006; Carol Kostecki (b. 1943); Montague Center, Massachusetts; Resist-dyed chicken egg; 2 1/4 x 1 1/2 in. diam.; Collection of the artist; Photography by Jason Dowdle
Pysanki, Ukrainian decorated egg, 2006
Carol Kostecki (b. 1943)
Montague Center, Massachusetts
Resist-dyed chicken egg
2 1/4 x 1 1/2 in. diam.
Collection of the artist
Photography by Jason Dowdle
Carol Kostecki demonstrating in craft area of Lowell Folk Festival; Ukrainian decorated egg; 2008: Lowell, Massachusetts
verticle bar Artist
Carol Kostecki
Montague Center, MA
In pre-Christian Eastern Europe, the egg symbolized the source of life; decorated eggs heralded a good harvest and were used as talismans to ward off evil spirits. Catholicism incorporated the cultural reverence for pysanki by associating the decorated egg with the rebirth of Christ and the season of Easter. While many of Eastern European heritage (and Americans generally) continue to decorate eggs at Easter time, Carol Kostecki of Montague Center works year-round creating spectacularly detailed designs on spheres, which range from quail and miniature chicken eggs gathered for her by a local farmer to huge, imported ostrich eggs.

While there are many styles of egg decoration in Eastern Europe, pysanki are typically made through a wax resist process. A simple egg might take an hour to decorate, while the most ornate ostrich egg represents months of work. Designs are drawn - or, as the artists would describe it, written - on an egg with wax, and then the egg is dyed. Kostecki uses a stylus called a kistka to create the wax outlines on her eggs; additional coats of wax and dye are applied until the art is complete. The designs on her pysanki include imagery and color symbolism reflecting Catholic belief as well as pre-Christian Ukrainian and Polish culture. Kostecki has also created pysanki patterns of her own, among them some that feature such symbols as deer and fish from her own Abenaki tradition.
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