Romania’s Painted Easter Eggs: A Story of Art and Tradition
The painted Easter eggs are without a doubt the most colorful, artistic and loved part of this religious celebration in Romania. You’ll find them in every house, at every Easter meal, at church and even at picnics. Their origin goes back at least a couple of centuries, and today they represent the most popular image of this major Orthodox religious holiday.
Photo by Diana Muntean
A particular art
Throughout time, painting Easter eggs became an art of its own in Romania’s villages, the painter’s role being initially reserved only for women. While painting eggs is even today a skill very few master as the process is long and meticulous, some Romanian artisans have transformed these hollowed-out eggs into unique works of art, exhibited all around the world.
Although the colors and symbols used to decorate the eggs vary according to region, usually three-four colors are used, each with its own meaning. Red symbolizes love and solar light, black is eternity, yellow is about youth and rich crops while green relates to nature and blue to health and sunny skies.
The decorative motifs are also very diverse, mixing symbols like the cross or the star with vegetal and animal representations and traditional elements from the rural culture. The use of symbols is also influenced by regional and local elements. This local specificity is well represented by the artisans from Ciocanesti, Bucovina, who use the geometrical motifs of the beautiful houses from their village to decorate their creations.
Photo by renagrisa
The lines used in the painting process bear their own meaning, if the straight vertical line means life, the horizontal one means death. The double straight line and the spiral symbolize eternity while the curved line means water and purification.
Spread across all the historical provinces of the country, the art of painting eggs is perhaps best represented in Bucovina, a place of pure spirituality. Two museums dedicated entirely to presenting painted Easter eggs can be visited in this region, in Ciocanesti – the National Museum of Painted Eggs – and Moldovita – the International Museum of Eggs Lucia Condrea, each with thousands of eggs exhibited. Ciocanesti also hosts the most important national painted eggs festival, usually before Easter, and both museums organize workshops and summer schools where visitors can learn the magic of painting eggs.
These painted eggs are not as fragile as you might imagine and they’re wonderful souvenirs. Buy at least one from Bucovina.
You can find painted eggs in most souvenir shops across the country. Ask for more details about the artisan to be sure you’re buying an original.