Art and Design: The Ancient Art Of The Easter Egg

Have you ever heard of pysanky?

Or pisanki, bemalte ostereier, hímestojás, kraslice or pirhi?

All of these names are for a
specially decorated Easter Egg!
I am of both Hungarian and Italian heritage,
and my Dad (the Hungarian side), introduced me
to the Eastern European tradition of decorating
Easter eggs with dyes, kistka, wax and candle flame
when I was a young girl. I loved it!

The Eggs are a traditional symbol of hope and renewal.
Originating as a pagan ritual,
people once believed that great powers
were embodied in the egg;
it represented life, fertility, and rebirth. 

The tradition continues throughout
Europe and in parts of the United States today.
It is a particular art form, with repeating patterns
 and symbolic and iconic images
of fertility, harvest and animals. 

Learn more details and see other
examples of different styles at

The designs are 'written' in molten beeswax,
using a special pen called a kistka.
The eggs are dipped into multiple color dye baths,
then the wax is melted off the surface,
revealing all the colors and creating
protective sheen on the shell.

a traditonal, home-made kistka
Learn more about the art, and to
buy supplies to make your own here.

By the way, I still own my very own kistka ,
and occasially will sit and create my own hímestojás.


  1. How wonderful - Hungarian AND Italian heritage. Do you know about the story I will tell you below?

    "The Martians" is the name given to a group of prominent scientists (mostly, but not exclusively physicists and mathematicians) who emigrated from Hungary to the United States in the early half of the 20th century. They included, among others, Theodore von Kármán, John von Neumann, Eugene Wigner, Edward Teller and Paul Erdős. They received the name from a fellow "Martian" Leó Szilárd, who jokingly suggested that Hungary was a front for aliens from Mars.

    Below is the original story (from the book The Martians by Gy Marx). The story refers to Enrico Fermi, the Italian-American physicist and Noble Prize winner, and to Leo Szilard, an Austro-Hungarian physicist who conceived the idea of a nuclear chain reaction. Whether a true story or a folk tale, there is no denying the fact that Hungary has produced an astonishing number of world class mathematicians, physicists, and other scientists.

    “The universe is vast, containing myriads of stars, many of them not unlike our Sun. Many of these stars are likely to have planets circling around them. A fair fraction of these planets will have liquid water on their surface and a gaseous atmosphere. The energy pouring down from a star will cause the synthesis of organic compounds, turning the ocean into a thin, warm soup. These chemicals will join each other to produce a self-reproducing system. The simplest living things will multiply, evolve by natural selection and become more complicated till eventually active, thinking creatures will emerge. Civilization, science, and technology will follow. Then, yearning for fresh worlds, they will travel to neighboring planets, and later to planets of nearby stars. Eventually they should spread out all over the Galaxy. These highly exceptional and talented people could hardly overlook such a beautiful place as our Earth. ‘And so,‘ Fermi came to his overwhelming question -- ‘if all this has been happening, they should have arrived here by now, so where are they?’ -- It was Leo Szilard, a man with an impish sense of humor, who supplied the perfect reply to the Fermi Paradox -- ‘They are among us,’ he said, ’but they call themselves Hungarians.’"

    Stephanie, let me know if you would like my partial list of Budapest-born mathematicians, physicists, and other scientists born in Budapest. I prepared it for my Hungarian neighbor, who is from Budapest.

  2. Wow - thanks, MikeB! quite a story, I must admit. and it is news to me! My father (the Hungarian side) was indeed yet another Hunarian man of science; specifically, a Geologist! (though, admittedly, not world-class level!)
    Yes, please feel free to send me the list via e-mail at
    thank you!

  3. I am catchin up on reading your blog. I have not read many blog posts lately as I have been very busy with personal affairs. Will send the list soon.

  4. thank you MikeB - there is no timeframe. whenever you get to it, that will be the right time!

  5. Hi Stephanie,
    I sent the list of Budapest people to your email twice on June 15th, once as an attachment and once in the body of my email. Did you recieve my emails?

  6. I'm gald you wrote this note, MikeB - because I had to got hunting for them! but yes, I did find them...although I must admit I've not yet had a moment to read through the info. Thanks so very much for sending - and I hope to get to it in the next week!

  7. Thanks for letting me know you got the list, Stephanie. Whenever you get around to reading it, enjoy!

  8. thanks, and you shold finally see a response to your e-mail! sorry for the delays!

  9. @MikeB: your msg received. Thanks! And re: your request...I concur and respectfully oblige. ;-)

  10. Thanks so much, Stephanie. I hope you enjoyed the writeup on the geniuses from Budapest. My elderly neighbor is Hungarian, and all but one of his family members live in Budapest, so it was for him that I originally prepared my list of the geniuses from Budapest. I am glad I kept it, which allows me to share it with others.