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Easter eggs

Easter egg, generally referred to as "pisanka" in Polish, is an egg decorated using various techniques. The custom of painting eggs originated in Persia, which may support one of the theories about the Slavic origin. As for the Polish lands, the oldest pisanki, dating back to the late 10th century, were found during archaeological excavations on the Ostrówek island in Opole, where remnants of a Slavic settlement were discovered.

Patterns were drawn on these eggs using melted wax, and then they were immersed in dye made from onion skins or ochre, giving them a brownish-red color. During the process of Christianization, the pisanka became a part of Easter symbolism. Nowadays, pisanki are commonly made before Easter, less frequently during the Spring Equinox. They are a must-have among Easter foods, symbolizing the emerging nature and the hope that Christians derive from the belief in the resurrection of Christ.

Among the painted eggs, various types of pisanki can be observed, including those created using the dyeing and waxing method (sometimes using multiple colors sequentially), "oklejanki" made by sticking reeds or colorful yarn, those adorned with colored cutouts, and "naklejanki" created by applying paper cutouts. Additionally, there are "kraszanki," which are eggs dyed in a single color, and "drapanki," produced by scratching patterns on colored kraszanki.

Knowledge of obtaining the desired color for pisanki is useful. Yellow is obtained from birch and alder leaves, bark of barberry and young apple trees, mulberry wood, dried field marigold flowers, bog-myrtle, reed, and chamomile, as well as common onion skins and larch needles. Red is achieved with dyer's broom, elderberry and oak bark, alder cones, black elderberry fruits, dried berries, and onion. Orange comes from carrots and pumpkins, or by combining red and yellow. Brown is derived from walnut shells and roots, as well as fir needles, while very dark brown results from oak and alder. Golden color is obtained by combining brown with yellow, and blue by using sloe fruits. Violet is created from dark mallow petals and by mixing red and blue. Green is achieved using certain grasses, herbs, mainly nettle, and leaves of dye plants, along with young rye. Black, on the other hand, is obtained from boiled alder cones.

According to folk beliefs, eggshells also possess great power, especially for young people or those suffering from skin diseases. On Holy Saturday – before sunrise – it was necessary to cook an egg boiled on Good Friday, peel it, and pour spring water over it. The container had to be placed in an eastern window or on the balcony to be bathed in the first rays of the sun. This water supposedly helped with ulcers, acne, and various skin rashes, as well as protected the whole body from diseases. In some places, the belief persists that good spirits emerge from the shells thrown onto the roof, aiding the household and protecting it from all dangers.

The most expensive pisanki are usually hand-painted or adorned works of art that often combine tradition, craftsmanship, and luxury. Depending on the materials, techniques, and artist involved, the prices of such pisanki can reach enormous sums. However, it's not just about costs but also the symbolic and artistic value that attracts collectors and enthusiasts of Easter art.

The most expensive pisanki are often made from the highest quality materials such as gold, silver, and even diamonds. These are usually unique works that require hundreds of hours of manual labor. Some are decorated using enamel painting techniques, giving them a unique shine and color. Others incorporate traditional folk patterns and motifs transformed into modern works of art.

It's worth noting that some pisanki are created as unique works of art, while others are produced in limited editions. Collectors often seek those unique pieces that combine artistic and historical value. Some pisanki are also adorned with gemstones or are part of collections from exclusive jewelry brands.

Regardless of their financial value, pisanki are an important part of the Easter tradition in many countries and symbolize joy, spring, and the rebirth of life. They are beautiful and unique works of art that remind us of the profound meaning of the Easter holiday.

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