Plant Symbols on the Pysanka, the Ukrainian Easter Egg

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“The Story of Pysanka” (2019) is an abundant source of information on the pysanka, the Ukrainian Easter egg. The book is about the origin, styles, and uses of this beautiful symbol of spring and Easter. We have selected 10 facts on pysanka plant symbols.

Woman wearing a kerchief sits in a garden and holds “The Story of Pysanka” book
“The Story of Pysanka” (2019).

1. Pysanka plant symbols are numerous and diverse. (For example, “The Story of Pysanka” 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. (For example, “The Story of Pysanka” mentions about a dozen variations of ‘rozha’ (mallow) symbol).

5. Leaves follow flower symbols in popularity. (“The Story of Pysanka” contains several examples of leaf symbols, including periwinkle, oak, nut, horseradish, maple and cherry).

6. Logically, the names of pysanky often reflect the motif or symbol they feature.

7. Interestingly, ‘the Rozha’ (mallow) pysanka is mentioned in Hryhoriy Kvitka-Osnovyanenko’s novel ‘Here’s a Treasure for You’ (1837). As a matter of fact, our book refers to two stories by this Ukrainian writer; the second story being ‘A Soldier’s Portrait’ (1833).

8. On rare occasions the same symbol can represent different plants in various localities of Ukraine. For instance, the ‘field mallow’ of the village of Ostroverhivka and the ‘‘oak leaf’ of the town of Lebedyn, 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 some Moravian and Serbian Easter eggs.

Infographic with seven images featuring plant symbols on the Pysanka, the Ukrainian Easter Egg, from book "The Story of Pysanka".
Some of the plant symbols on the Pysanka, the Ukrainian Easter Egg, from our book “The Story of Pysanka”.

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Check out our other articles on pysanky and our Tradition on a Plate series :