Zdobení kraslic slámou (Kraslice 2016) / Easter Eggs Decorated with Straw

Straw must be pre-treated before sticking it on the Easter eggs. We start with flattening. Take a moistened stalk of barley straw, specifically the internode (a portion of the stalk between nodes). Actually, it would be better to process straw right after the harvest. If the straw is dry, like just before the Easter, it should be flattened first. We cut the internode along with a knife or scissors and smoothen it – i.e., we remove the coarse inner layer. We never press straw with an iron. It’s a crazy idea even though it’s recommended in some manuals available on the Internet. Steamed straw can be flattened, but it will not become smooth as long as the coarse inner layer remains inside the stalk. That’s why we carefully remove the inner layer, e.g. with scissors, until the straw begins to roll into a ring. Only now we have the straw well pre-treated and ready for further decoration. Straw has a lot of shades: barley straw is white, oat straw is yellow. Among other shades, there is also pink straw on these white eggs. It comes from barley petals, about 3 to 5 cm long, growing on the second node from the bottom. There is also greenish straw … … which was mowed early, before becoming ripe … … and was dried in the dark so as not to turn yellow. The golden spots are pieces of oats straw. These dark “willow catkins” are made of straw that grew on a peat field near a pond in Southern Bohemia. The stalk was incrusted with peat, which dyed it dark. This is what makes the difference. Not a single piece of straw on these Easter eggs is dyed artificially, all the shades are natural. The stripes on the brown egg are made of oat straw, which is golden. Barley straw is whiter. The resulting pattern resembles a cross. When gluing straw to an egg, the glue must be applied to the back side of straw. Actually, the upper side is glossy while the back side is porous, rough, and absorbs glue well. If you apply the glue to the glossy side, it will fall out of the egg after drying. Classical old-time “grain” patterns were most commonly made of straw cut in the shape of squares, rectangles and circles. The circles were very difficult to make. The glue must be applied carefully to the entire square, so that it will not protrude on the sides when stuck to the egg. I prefer the “Hercules” penetrating glue, which is invisible after drying. Any imperfections are easy to clean. Still, we must keep the egg clean and tidy. 24 … 26 … 28 … 35: I’ve got 35 grains around the circumference of this egg. Therefore I must count them and arrange them well into the pattern. I’ll stick every fifth grain to make the basis of the pattern. Understood? Every fifth. This pattern on the white Easter eggs was locally called “the harrow” or “fish scales”. A fish is a symbol of fertility (fish have a lot of eggs) … … and the Easter egg like this was often given to a bride to bring her an abundance of children and of everything else. Such eggs were donated not only at Easter but at any time of the year. The colourful eggs were presented on weddings, but also on other occasions, such as harvest feasts. There are three intersected ears on this red egg, which means God’s blessing. In some regions, people brought such eggs to the church at the end of the harvest time. The eggs were also decorated before Palm Sunday, in the period of mourning. The pattern of plants and catkins is more recent (post-WWII). The purple colour of the egg is the colour of mourning in the Church tradition. This egg was made at the time of the year when willow catkins were brought to church and blessed. So it’s specific for a given period of a year. In the past, decorated eggs were given throughout the year on various occasions: E.g., a young girl could donate a red or green one to a boy to express her affection. There is another meaningful pattern on this Easter egg. The crossed rye ears were originally a symbol of the blessing, but the other motifs express a mischievous subtext. When two opposite sides are decorated with the crossed grain stalks, the picture on the tip of the egg resembles a vaginal diagram. You shouldn’t like to bring such an egg into church, but it is only intended for a young man you dream about and want him to know. Moreover, if the straws were tied in the middle with a rosemary twig (which isn’t the case of this egg), it could express an intimate urge and even suggest that the girl chased after the guy. In earlier times, before 1918, presented eggs were not blown out, and a young man might have received a number of them from the girls. He usually picked the egg he had got from the one whom he liked the most, blew out it, and kept the shell Than he ate the other eggs – what else was he to do? If he had kept the egg, he was obliged to buy a scarf or gingerbread heart to that particular girl at the earliest village feast in the neighbourhood to express his appreciation. In the second year of WWI, there was a great shortage of eggs and their decorating was forbidden. The popular game called “egg tapping” was also banned at that time, to prevent wasting. At that time, the ethnographer Josef Klvaňa exported Easter eggs decorated by women from the Kyjov area to Vienna. The Kyjov women lost their means of support due to the ban, and Mr. Klvaňa was apparently looking for ways to circumvent it. The law prohibited export of eggs, not of shells. That’s why the decorators started to blow eggs out and sell the decorated shells only, so they could be exported. Here is an ostrich egg that I’ve divided into sections. It’s decorated with interconnected patterns on all sides. There are all four seasons depicted (spring, summer, autumn, and winter). Each season has the sun of its own. Spring is full of flowers, the sun is waking up. In the summertime, sun is hot and grain ripens. In autumn, flowers shiver, the cold comes, trees shed leaves, but the sun is still there. Then winter comes and another year is over. I depicted here the cold Christmas season, a church, chimneys smoking, and to please the children, I painted two hares sitting in the snowdrift and waiting for the blooming spring to come.

Leave a Response

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *