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The ritual of painting  eggs,on Romanian Easter Holiday

Artur Gorovei, in his work Ouale de Pasti, Studiu de Folklor  “Easter Eggs, Folklore Study” 1937, claims that the Romanians’ habit of reddening Easter eggs is a custom inherited from our Pre-Christian ancestors, given the fact that this is a tradition passed on from generation to generation.

The proof lies in the fact that the motifs found on the adorned eggs, are a combination of ancestral symbols such as triquetrum, swastika, rosette (representation of the Sun and the Zalmoxian Cult), Christian motifs such as the Lamb’s Cross or the Easter Cross, the Monastery, but also motifs that are part of the universe of the Romanian peasant, such as cosmogonic symbols (sun, moon, lucifer, star), motifs from the animal kingdom (ram / horns, frog, bee, rooster, deer, swallow), motifs from the plant kingdom (fir, cherry, snow-drops, wheat, walnut, acacia, rose, clover, vine), common tools (lost path, shepherd’s rod, iron, plow, hay fork, rake).

Artur Gorovei also claims that a specific aspect of traditionally decorated Romanian eggs is that the motifs used never represent an object in its entirety, but rather portray the characteristic part of each object; for example oak or linden leaf, ram horns, frog paw, etc.

The design is made by lines and dots and the represented object is repeated on the same egg even up to eight times, following a certain symmetry.

There are four types of Easter eggs:

• Monochrome eggs or < merisoare >  traditionally painted red eggs, but they may also be made in other colors.

• Monochrome eggs with ornaments

• Polychrome eggs with ornaments

• Eggs with embossed ornaments

Decorated eggs are called oua inchistrite  / speckled  eggs.

Polychrome eggs with ornaments are called “hard-worked eggs” or “unfortunate eggs” because their preparation requires a lot of work and a special mastery of the craft.

The color used traditionally was red, but over time the Easter eggs were colored in yellow, green, blue, and black.

The colors were extracted from plants, this occupation being considered a true craft among the peasant women, who used plants, flowers, fruits, leaves and bark to color the canvases and threads with which they  would later sew their Romanian Blouses and color their Easter Eggs. 

The plants used were only harvested on specific days, usually holidays, which turns the activity of painting eggs into a complex ritual for which you had to prepare long time in advance.

The yellow color was obtained from cypress spurge ( Euphorbia cyparissias), mulberries (Morus), cherry plum tree, but the shades obtained depended largely on the time of the year, when the harvest was made. The rusty yellow color, for example, was obtained by foraging cypress spurge on Saint Ilie’s day.

The light yellow shade, was obtained from crocus flowers.

The yellow-brick shade -from alder bark.

Various shades of yellow were obtained from plants such as dogwood bark, onion leaves, dandelion, birch leaves, St. John’s wort, Elderflowers, etc.

The blue color was obtained from sweet violets.

Walnuts, sweet apple peel, wild apple buds, sunflowers, etc. were used to obtain the color green.

For the red color, flowers and leaves of sour apples, thyme, rosehip bark or madder were used.

The black color, was obtained from stevia root and the green shell or the outer part of the green walnuts. 

The decorating of the eggs is done with two specific tools: chisita and felesteul.

Chisita, is the tool used to draw the lines of the motifs that adorn the egg, and the felesteu is used to apply dots or drops.

These tools are used to apply the design on the warm egg with melted beeswax.

Once the pattern has been made, the egg is placed in the desired paint, the heat of the water melting the wax and leaving the pattern visible in contrast to the background color.

In the case of the unfortunate eggs, the procedure is similar, but much more time-consuming and difficult to realize because it is repeated depending on how many colors you want to use. Also, these eggs are usually emptied of their contents since they cannot be boiled because the wax of the different coatings would melt in contact with the hot water, the final  design risking to get destroyed.

The embossed eggs are made by applying colored wax on the egg, this wax being no longer melted. These eggs are specific to the Vrancea and Vidra areas.

After staining, the egg was traditionally greased with animal fat and wiped with a piece of linen, called a “petica”.

This linen was not thrown away but was taken to the Church on Easter day, to be consecrated by the priest together with the red eggs.

The sacred linen was kept during the year being used by peasant-women in healing rituals and enchantments, for various diseases of cattle or headaches, toothaches. It was usually burned with osier willow rot on embers, and the patient or animal was smoked with it for curative purposes. 

In addition to the linen, the plants used to color the eggs, were also kept for “shielding” purposes, these being given to the animals in their food for protection and health.

At the Easter table, eggs are still clashed by family members.  The ancient belief was that by doing so, they would be able to reunite after death.

These aspects of  Pagan-Christian syncretism have been practiced in various forms and are probably still being practiced to this day in some areas of our country, as a reminiscence of ancestral customs and believes, that managed to somehow miraculously adapt to the changes happening within the  socio-cultural context.

Although blamed by the “modern Romanian” and labeled as archaic and rather characteristic of the simple and uneducated  people, my opinion is that these practices should be proudly preserved because they have against all odds,  withstood the passage of time and are a portal to an ancestral understanding of the universe and of the world we live in.


Credințe  magice Geto-Dacice :Iulia Brânză Mihaileanu.                                                        Ouăle de Paști, Studiu de Folklore 1937  : Artur Gorovei                                                    Egg art by Irina Apan & Dochia Roxana                                                                     *photos are taken by myself and from the folclore study Ouăle  de Paști by Artur Gorovei.        

Ritualul vopsirii ouălor de Paște

Artur Gorovei, in lucrarea sa « Ouale de Pasti, Studiu de Folklor » 1937, sustine ca obiceiul Romanilor de a inrosii ouale de Paste, este un obicei mostenit de la stramosii pre-Crestini, fiind o datina pastrata din generatie in generatie .

Dovada sta in faptul ca motivele regasite pe ouale incodeiate sunt o combinatie de motive ancestrale precum triquetrum,svastica, roseta (simbol al Soarelui si al Cultului Zamolxian), motive Crestine precum Crucea Mielului sau Crucea Pastelui, Manastirea , dar si motive ce fac parte din universul taranului roman , precum simboluri cosmogonice (soarele, luna, lucefarul, steaua),motive din regnul animal (berbecul/coarnele, broasca, albina, cocosul, cerbul, randunica), motive din regnul plantelor( bradul, ciresica, chiocei, grau, nucul, salcamul, trandafirul, trifouil, vita de vie), unelte uzuale( calea ratacita, carja ciobanului  fierul, plugul, furca, grebla) . 

Tot Artur Gorovei , sustine ca un aspect specific al oualor romanesti  incondeiate traditional, este ca motivele utilizate , nu reprezinta niciodata un obiect in intregime, ci se alege mai degraba partea caracteristica a fiecarui obiect ; spre exemplu frunza stejarului sau a teiului, coarnele bernecului, laba broastei etc. 

Desenul se realizeaza  prin linii si prin puncte iar obiectul reprezentat este  repetat pe acelasi ou chiar si pana la opt ori, tinandu-se cont de o simetrie anume. 

Ouale de Paste sunt de patru tipuri :

  • Oua monocrome sau oua merisoare / rusite /inrosite , vopsite traditional in rosu, insa pot fi si pe alte culori
  • Oua monocrome cu ornamente 
  • Oua policrome cu ornamente 
  • Oua cu ornamente in relief

Ouale cu ornamente se numesc oua inchistrite sau impestritite. 

Ouale policrome cu ornamente se numesc oua muncite sau oua necajite deoarece prepararea lor necesita multa munca si o stapanire deosebita a mestesugului. 

Culoarea folosita traditional, era cea rosie, insa cu timpul ouale de Paste s-au colorat si in galben, verde, albastru, negru. 

Aceste culori erau extrase din plante, aceasta indeletnicire fiind adusa la rang de mestesug in randul tarancilor care foloseau plante, flori, fructe, frunze si scoarte de copaci pentru a colora panzele si firele cu care isi coseau mai apoi iile si isi colorau ouale de Paste. 

Plantele folosite erau culese in anume zile, de obicei zile de sarbatoare, fapt ce transforma aceasta activitate a vopsirii oualor, intr-un ritual complex pentru care trebuia sa te pregatesti din timp.

Culoarea galbena se obtinea din alior, agud, zarzar, insa nuantele obtinute depindeau in mare parte de momentul din an , in care recolta a fost efectuata. Culoarea galben ruginiu de exemplu fiind obtinuta de aliorul cules de Sfantul Ilie. 

Galbenul deschis se obtinea din flori de brandusa.

Galbenul -caramiziu -din coaja de arin.

Variate nuante de galben se obtineau din plante precum coaja de lemnul cainelui, foi de ceapa, papadie, frunze de mesteacan, sunatoare, soc etc.

Culoarea albastra era obtinuta din viorele. 

Pentru verde se foloseau frunze de nuc, coaja de mar dulce, mugur de mar paduret, floarea soarelui etc 

Pentru culoarea rosie, se foloseau flori si frunze de mar acru, cimbrisor , coaja de maces, roiba. 

Pentru culoarea neagra se intrebuinta coaja verde a nucului si partea exterioara a nucilor verzi, radacina de stevie. 

Incondeiatul oualor se realizeaza cu doua unelte specifice : chisita si felesteul. 

Chisita , este instrumentul cu care se trag liniile motivelor ce incondeiaza oul, iar felesteul este intrebuintat pentru aplicarea punctelor sau a picatelelor.

Aceste unelte sunt folosite pentru aplicarea motivelor  pe oul caldut cu ceara topita de albine. 

O data ce modelul a fost realizat, oul se plaseaza in vopseaua dorita , caldura apei topind ceara si lasand modelul vizibil in contrast cu culoarea de fundal. 

In cazul oualor muncite procedeul este similar , insa mult mai anevoios fiindca  este repetat in functie de cate culori se doresc folosite. De asemenea aceste oua sunt de obicei golite de continut caci nu pot fi fierté pentru ca ceara diferitelor inchistrituri s-ar topi, modelul fiind distrus. 

Ouale in relief se realizeaza aplicand ceara colorata pe ou , aceasta ceara nemaifiind topita. Aceste oua sunt specifice zonei Vrancea si Vidra. 

Dupa colorare, oul se ungea in mod traditional cu slanina si se strergea cu o bucata de in, numita petica.

Aceasta petica, nu se arunca ci era dusa in ziua de Paste la Biserica , pentru a fi sfintita de catre preot impreuna cu ouale rosii. 

Petica sfintita se pastra pe timpul anului fiind folosita de catre taranci in ritualuri de vindecare si descantece, pentru diferite boli de vite sau dureri de masele, de cap. De obicei aceasta se ardea impreuna cu putregai de rachita pe jaratec, iar bolnavul sau animalul, era afumat. 

Pe langa petica,pentru leacuri se mai pastrau si  plantele sau galbinelele,  din care se obtineau culorile pentru colorarea oualor, acestea fiind date animalelor in mancare pentru protectie si sanatate. 

La masa de Paste ouale se ciocnesc de catre membrii familiei, pentru ca acestia sa se poata intalni si pe Lumea Cealalata. 

Acest sincretism pagano-crestin s-a practicat sub nenumarate forme si probabil inca se mai practica pe teritoriul tarii noastre, ca o reminiscenta a cutumelor si credintelor ancestrale, reusind sa se adapteze in mod miraculos schimbarilor de context socio-cultural. 

Desi blamate de catre « romanul modern» si etichetate ca fiind arhaice si mai degraba caracteristice omului simplu si fara carte, parererea mea este ca aceste practici, trebuiesc conservate cu mandrie  pentru ca ele au reusit sa reziste in mod miraculos trecerii timpului si reprezinta  un portal catre o intelegere ancestrala  a  universului si a lumii in care traim. 

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