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Vira Borys

Artist, master of pysanka creation
Living (by) art
Living (by) art
Master Vera Boris and her Hutsul pysanka

Vira Borys – the custodian of the ancient Hutsul craft

To draw an Easter egg is to find peace with the world

Vira wakes up at eight in the morning every day. The day begins with a prayer. She thanks God for the day and asks for strength and energy for the next ones. She prepares breakfast, goes around the house, then starts painting Easter eggs. And so, it is until late hours in the evening. Easter painting is something without which a woman cannot imagine her life. She internally adjusts herself before starting work with each Easter egg. She says that in order for a painted egg to be successful, it is necessary to start it with pure, good thoughts. You have to feel the inner harmony with yourself and the world, otherwise it will not succeed, and drawing an Easter egg will not reach its logical conclusion. The egg will break, and the paint will spill and nothing will come out. Since ancient times, Easter painting has been one of the most important arts in Hutsul culture. The history of this craft dates back to pre-Christian times, so Christian symbolism in the ornaments of painted eggs can often be traced to this day. At first, only women were engaged in Easter eggs painting, but over time, this tradition passed also to men. Vira Borys is one of the few Easter eggs artists in Kosovo who continues to promote the ancient art of the highlanders. Although, as she says, she didn’t start painting Easter eggs right away. She is a weaver by profession, so most of her life her creativity was replicated via thread and weaving. Her love for painting Easter and Trypillia eggs was instilled in her by her husband, Serhii Borys.

Once Serhii`s aunt came to visit us. She brought all the tools for painting Easter eggs with her and showed us how to do it. First, Sergii became interested in this process, and then I was engaged too.

Hutsul mascot

In ancient peoples, the egg served as a verbal sign of speech. It was used to convey certain symbols, codes, and signs of something. On it, people usually painted their inner desires, thoughts and even prayers, engraving them in various, colorful Easter egg ornaments. They invested their spiritual energy, wisdom, and love. The egg was and remains the prototype of the earth and all living things there. Over time, the motives for drawing Easter eggs slowly changed, but the meaning remained the same. Today, the painted Easter egg is most strongly associated with the resurrection of Christ, and it is painted on the eve of Easter. However, in the Kosiv region, this symbol is still a special mascot for the Hutsul people. For the master Vira Borys, drawing Easter eggs is first of all a spiritual need – like bread, prayer or water. She paints on chicken, ostrich and goose eggs. It takes a whole day to paint one egg, but a woman does not spare her time at all, because she understands that she is doing things for the next generations. She says she never knows what the end result of each pysanka will be. For her, this is always an exciting and touching moment of culmination.

The spirit of the time

She is going out into the yard of her house. The woman is holding three Easter eggs in one hand and two in the other. There is still some snow outside, but water is already flowing from the roof in loud streams. It is drumming from the gutter with all its might. The sound is complementing the singing of birds that have already arrived home. That’s because an early spring is on the calendar. Vira is raising her hand to heaven, holding an Easter egg in her palm. She is closing one eye, inspecting how clearly the ornament is applied to the egg. In daylight, you can see all the intricacies of the work done. Now she is taking another, repeating the same movement. Then another. And so each. On top of the embroidered shirt – a woman’s put on a warm keptar. She has got blonde curly hair with some silver threads of hoariness and blue eyes. There are wooden chests, different boards and old pallets behind the lady. The white shutters, carved at the bottom by a crescent moon, almost merge with the snow. It was as if it had been filled up half the house.

It used to be that my husband started working with Easter eggs, and I had only to finish. But over time, I became uninterested. I understood that it was not my Easter egg. That's why I wanted to learn how to make Easter eggs myself from the beginning.

At first, Vera drew ornaments from old postcards she saw in magazines and newspapers. She says that her husband criticized her for this, because they allegedly did plagiarism, because she repeated what had already been done. However, a woman sees a different meaning in this: to draw ornaments from ancient postcards is to give a new, different life to long-created drawings. I took one line, and then invented something of my own, completely different from another. This gave the master the impetus of his own imagination. Because any pattern is somehow based on something previously seen, and therefore carries the ancient traditions of ancestors. As well as Vira`s Easter eggs . Today, Vira Borys has many young students who are eager to learn the ancient technique of Easter painting.

To the Lord God Himself

When children come to me, the first thing I teach them is to concentrate and understand why they do this. Find their inner balance. Because Easter painting is a very energetic art form.

She says that every time she starts work, she prays and asks God for patience, inspiration and endurance so that the pysanka will be original and full. Now Vera is going to her room, sitting down on a wide blue sofa. On the table she has several baskets of already painted Easter eggs, paints and other handy tools. She is picking up the pysachok and starting to carefully draw patterns that slowly are covering the whole egg with bizarre arabesques. She is drawing it very slowly, focused and gently. It is as if she is writing a letter to the Lord God himself.
Author of the text Eva Raiska
Photo author Serhii Havryliuk

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