Farha's Gallery of Decorated Eggs





























































































































































































Origin of Egg Art, Faberge Eggs, Pysanky Eggs, Mystique of Ostrich Eggs, Egg Art in India

Origin of Egg Art

The egg possesses the secret to life. It symbolizes "rebirth" and is often associated with Easter, Spring, dawn and creation.

The art of egg decoration goes back to early civilizations, when eggs were colored and used as gifts to celebrate the re-birth of life on the earth. Ostrich eggshell with engraved hatched patterns have been found as early as 60,000 years ago at Diepkloof Rock Shelter in South Africa.

From ancient times until now, eggs have been decorated in many ways. According to The Provincial Museum of Alberta, egg collecting has been practiced for centuries. At first eggshells were hung in medieval homes for decoration and later, eggs became popular items to collect.

In France, from the 16th century onwards, it became customary to exchange elaborate surprise Easter Eggs. The high point of all time was reached in the fabulous egg-shaped treasures created n 1860s by the imaginative goldsmith of Russia, Peter Carl Fabergé, and his meticulous artists and craftsmen. In 1869 he sold the first pieces to the St. Petersburg Hermitage.

Peter Carl Faberge soon became the Court Supplier to the Czars and had the honor of using the family crest of the Romanovs in his company logo. In 1885 Fabergé produced the first Imperial egg. This simple but beautiful egg opened up to reveal a yolk. Inside the yolk was a golden hen and inside the hen was a diamond miniature of the crown and a tiny ruby egg.

The egg was a gift to the Czarina Maria. It reminded her of home and each year thereafter, a new egg was commissioned by the Czar and created by Fabergé for the Czarina. The eggs became elaborately more jeweled, conveyed historical meaning and had a hidden surprise.

The Czar gave his wife an egg every year during the Russian Orthodox Easter festival. From 1895 to 1916, his successor, Nicholas II, gave two Easter eggs each year, one to his wife and one to his mother.

In Ukraine, the tradition of egg decoration began as early in the year 988 AD, long before Christianity came to that country. Though many European immigrant groups brought egg-decorating traditions with them to the Pittsburgh area, none is more intricate and beautiful than pysanky, Ukrainian expressions of faith and friendship. The Pysanky Eggs are one of the most beautiful and intricate pieces of art.

Many years before the birth of Christ, the Persians and Egyptians were colouring eggs. The Jews also had a tradition of colouring eggs during the Passover season. In Iran, colored eggs have been part of the Persian New Year celebration of Navroz for over 3,000 years. Navroz coincides with the spring equinox.

The Persian culture also has a tradition of egg decoratiion, which takes place during the spring equinox. This time marks the Persian New Year, and is referred to as Norouz.

In the modern times, USA and Europe are some of the important centres where egg art is practiced with great vigour. In fact, in USA many egg shows are held in different states where artists show their egg art and vendors of "egging" supplies can be found. Until recently one egg-art submission from every State used to be exhibited at the White House during Easter. This practice has been discontinued since the past two years.

Mystique of Ostrich Eggs

Ostrich Eggs have been particularly associated with some mosques and Dargahs or tombs of Sufi saints in India and other countries. In the Dargah of Sayyad Zain-ud-Din, a Muslim saint, built in 1370 A.D. near Aurangabad the grave is richly embroidered, with a string of ostrich eggs suspended above it. In the great tombs of Hazrat Nizamuddin and of Amir Khusro in New Delhi, ostrich eggs are hung from the iron polycandela of the tomb.

In the Sultan Ahmed Cami Mosque in Istanbul, built during 1606-17, light lamps were covered with gold and ornamented with gems incorporating ostrich eggs, luster and crystal balls. The Great Mosque in Djenné, Mali, in West Africa, built in 1906-1907, is a beautiful example of Muslim architecture. The front of the mosque includes three massive towers, each topped with a spire capped by an ostrich egg. Mesopotamia also made ostrich eggs into cups, and eggs found in Etruscan graves, and in those at Mycenae, suggest that they were articles of trade in early times.

The eggs were sometimes blown and hung in churches, as ornaments where all kinds of legends came to be attached to them. In the Middle Ages it was usual to place a coloured egg in the representation of Our Lord's tomb, during the Easter liturgy. Sometimes the three officiating priests took up the eggs, usually ostrich eggs, and laid them on the altar as they exchanged the ritual greeting: “Christ is Risen”. Often the eggs were adorned with silver, and there are records of others enriched with gold, pearls and precious gems.

Ostrich Eggs also played an important part in tribal rituals, mainly in Africa. In Bori ritual, Ostrich eggs are wrapped in leather and hung above the door to ward off evil spirits and, at Kaiama, an ostrich egg is placed on the thatch of the roof of the chief’s palace even today.

Ostrich Eggs had different connotations in different societies. In Medieval Islamic societies they symbolized faith and patience. In African societies, they were considered as symbols of fertility and purity and were generally kept in a room where there were pregnant women. But gradually they began to be kept all over the house.

Egg shells, particularly those of Ostrich were known to work as repellent to spiders and other insects. In India, hen egg shells are commonly used to ward off lizards.