“The Story of Pysanka” (2019) is an abundant source of information on Ukrainian Easter eggs, including their origin, styles and uses. We selected 10 facts on phytomorphic or plant symbols that can be found on Pysanky.
1. Pysanka plant symbols are numerous and diverse. (The book mentions some 3 dozen pysanka plant symbols).
2. Another word that can be used in place of ‘plant’ or ‘plant-form’, for example, in the expression ‘plant symbols’ is ‘phytomorphic’.
3. Plant symbols may represent either a whole plant, or any part of it (a leaf, a flower or even a stem).
4. Plant symbols can have many variants. (The book mentions about a dozen variations of ‘rozha’ (mallow) symbol).
5. Leaves follow flower symbols in popularity. (The book contains several examples of leaf symbols, including periwinkle, oak, nut, horseradish, maple and cherry).
6. A pysanka is often named after the motif or symbol it features.
7. ‘Rozha’ (mallow) pysanka is mentioned in Hryhoriy Kvitka-Osnovyanenko’s novel ‘Here’s a Treasure for You’ (1837). Our book refers to two stories of this Ukrainian writer; the second story being ‘A Soldier’s Portrait’ (1833).
8. On a rare occasion the same symbol can represent different plants in various localities of Ukraine. The ‘field mallow’ of Ostroverhivka village and the ‘‘oak leaf’ of Lebedyn town, are almost identical.
9. One of the most ancient of pysanka plant symbols is the ‘sosna’ (pine). Together with another ancient symbol ‘sontse’ (the sun) it represents the resurgence of nature.
10. Plant symbols are also often found on Moravian (Czech) and on some Serbian Easter eggs.