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Writing eggs

The symbolism of the egg has changed over the centuries. The oldest carved ostrich eggs found in Africa are about 60,000 years old and served as a gift. Gold and silver eggs are present in the funeral customs of the Sumerians and Egyptians. The pagan beliefs of different peoples say that the egg is a symbol of the universe, fertility and the spring rebirth of nature. Christians have adopted red eggs as a symbol of Christ's blood. And today painted eggs are an invariable symbol of the bright holiday of Easter and part of its rituals.

Dyeing eggs on Maundy Thursday or Holy Saturday is a centuries-old tradition and carries symbolism and mystery with it. Nowadays, eggs are painted with factory paints - red, green, blue and various other colors. Various modern techniques are also used to decorate the egg. But the long tradition of writing eggs is preserved only in the region of the Chepino valley (Rhodopes), mostly in the towns of Rakitovo and Velingrad.

Today, we can learn more about the ways of writing eggs only from old sources. They state that the most common way to decorate in the past was with a pen made of metal tube and melted wax. The raw egg was painted, then soaked in vinegar or alum, fixing the red color. The dye had to boil, then the painted eggs were placed in it. As a result, they were boiled, painted except in places where there was wax, under which the fixative (vinegar) was not caught. These traces remained white after the wax fell off. Combined tones were obtained by double-writing and immersion in another dye. The writing was done in this way, the surface of the egg being distributed depending on the ornaments of the sectors by longitudinal and transverse lines. Usually, through two longitudinal and one transverse line, 8 sectors were obtained, in which additional figures were outlined, which could be joints with the described lines, but could also occupy free sector space. Ornaments on the unpainted surface of the egg were not excluded.

In terms of content, the ornaments were mainly of a plant nature: flowers and other plants abounded, and in almost all cases they were named collectively (wrist, feather) or with the names of specific garden or field flowers and plants. Images of animals were not uncommon; fish, birds, insects (bees, butterflies, spiders) or on various objects: crosses, wheels, flags, oars, etc., as well as in the sun, stars.

Figures of plant character, in so far as they are limited in certain sectors, especially if they are quarters or octaves of the surface of the egg, were symmetrically unfolded. In larger planes (halves) they were often asymmetrical and more independently painted. The more developed floral ornaments, located on the entire plane of the egg, were characterized by two drawing styles. One - massive-stemmed with a typical cactus branch, and the other - thin-stemmed, a vine with grapes or carnation and rosette flowers. The last motif was often an intricately branched flower planted in a pot, sometimes with birds perched on it.

Animal ornaments usually included fish drawn along the four-part surface and birds in more complex flowers or separately. Human images were also ubiquitous, called maidens, maidens, brides - one or two per egg.

A second way of writing eggs was with colored waxes. It was written with several of the familiar type of pens - one for each color. The egg was pre-boiled during this bleaching and remained only with its drawings, it did not turn red. The ornaments were considerably free and realistic. The elementary ways of drawing were not applied to them. This writing was school, iconographic. There were also written congratulations, as is the case in the first way, with intricate plant motifs. Flowers, birds, human images (saints, etc.) were painted with colored waxes.

The third way to develop the white base of the egg by scraping the paint with a needle


Hr. Vakarelski, Bulgarian Folk Art. Sofia, 1964

Hr. Vakarelski, Ethnography of Bulgaria. Sofia, 1947

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