The Folklore of The Pysanka Egg

The sculpture was designed by Paul Maxum Sembaliuk (1929–present), a Canadian artist of Ukrainian descent who was born and raised in the Willingdon and Vegreville area, located in the province of Alberta, Canada.

The Vegreville egg is a huge sculpture of a Pysanka, a Ukrainian-style Easter egg.

Paul Maxum Sembaliuk is the designer and builder of this intricate set of two-dimensional anodized  tiles in the shape of congruent equilateral triangles and star-shaped hexagons, fashioned over an aluminum framework.

The egg is 31 ft (9 m) long and three and a half stories high, weighing in at 2.5 t (5,512 lb).  It is the second largest Pysanka in the world. The largest one was built in Kolomyia, Ukraine in 2000.

History and Folklore of the Pysanka Egg:

Pysanka is the art of decorating an egg or write upon an egg, it is a very ancient tradition.

This practice began in prehistoric times in the Trypillian culture 1.

The original people that lived in this region during this time were sun worshipers. The sun helps grow plants and warms the ground, it was a life force to these folks.

Eggs were decorated with symbols of nature, they were chosen for Spring rituals and also served as good talismans. During the pre-Christian time their sun god was Atar was revered as the mightiest deity; only the birds could come close to Atar since birds were chosen by the deity. Folks would gather the eggs the birds laid and they considered the eggs magical since they were a life source. The egg used in Spring rituals represented rebirth of the earth.

Later in Christianity the egg symbol was adopted at Easter and it represented the rebirth of  Jesus the Christ’s resurrection.

The Ukrainian Hutzuls dwell in the Carpathian Mountains of Western Ukraine, they regard that the world’s fate relies upon the Pysanka egg. These folks must continue decorating the egg each year so the world will still exist. If, this egg decorating custom is ever abandoned an evil serpent who is chained to a cliff will take over the world.

The serpent sends out his followers to see how many Pysanka eggs have been created.

If there are too few eggs decorated, the serpent will break free of his chains and create chaos to the earth and inflict terror onto the earth dwellers. On the other hand if there are many decorated eggs the serpent’s chains constrict and good will win out over evil for yet another year.

Pysanka egg postcard with RCMP postcard courtesy of Wax On Daniel- san

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Sources & References:

  • Richard Rhoad; George Milauskas & Robert Whipple (1991). “7 – Polygons: Regular Polygons”. Geometry: for Enjoyment and Challenge (new ed.). McDougal Littell/Houghton Mifflin. p. 318. ISBN 978-0-86609-965-3.
  • Featured photo in Public Domain
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