HISTORY OF EGG ART
Origin of Egg
Art, Faberge Eggs, Pysanky Eggs, Mystique of Ostrich
Eggs, Egg Art in India
possesses the secret to life. It symbolizes "rebirth"
and is often associated with Easter, Spring, dawn and
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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