folk art phenomenon
- pirhi - are coloured and decorated hard-boiled eggs or
blown-out shells. They are known in different regions of Slovenia
also as pisanice, pisanke, remenci or remenke and
are regarded amongst the most beautifully decorated in Europe.
eggs have been an essential part of Slovenian Easter celebrations.
They are taken in a basket (jerbas) of traditional Easter foods
to church on Easter Saturday to be blessed and later set out on
the table for the Easter meal. Easter eggs were given as gifts
from one person to another, distributed as part of the Easter
celebration and used in traditional Easter
The Slovenian historian J.V. Valvasor
describes the custom in his work The Glory of the Duchy
of Carniola (1689). An earlier church record, dated 1393,
from the Dominican monastery at Radlje in Slovenia, reports that
on Easter Saturday eggs were distributed to all the nuns of the
The egg itself is an ancient symbol
of life and fertility. It is an Indo-european symbol of spring,
adopted later as a symbol of Christ's resurrection and found wherever
Christianity is practised. Coloured eggs are in evidence already
in ancient China and Egypt. In ancient Persia, the spring holiday
was known as "holiday of the red egg". Egg-shells have
been found in prehistoric graves; painted goose eggs were placed
with the deceased in the grave by the Romans.
In Slovenia there is a rich variety
of design and method
of decoration of Easter eggs, each region
having developed its own style. In Bela Krajina and Prekmurje
the eggs are characterised by geometric and stylised designs.
They are decorated with lines (straight, broken, undulating, zig-zag),
crosses, spirals, triangles, hearts, circles, dots and the sun.
Christian symbols are incorporated; the monograms of Mary (M)
and Christ (HIS, ISUS HRISTI SALVATOR). In the western regions
of Slovenia, Gorenjska and Primorska, the eggs are decorated with
naturalistic forms: clover, daisies, grapes, birds, as well as
monstrances. Inscriptions are a more recent phenomenon. They may
include: Easter greetings, such as "Vesela Aleluja",
sayings, verses, and love messages from girls to boys, such as
"Iz srca te ljubim, ti pisanko dam".
Nowadays men and women continue the
tradition of egg decoration, particularly in Bela Krajina and
Prekmurje. These traditional Easter eggs are greatly valued and
exhibited as products of Slovenian folk-art. There is great interest
in reviving this traditional art. Children are encouraged to learn
the techniques of egg decoration and considerable creativity and
excitement is generated during the weeks preceding Easter holiday.
Niko Kuret, Prazniccno leto Slovencev (Ljubljana 1989)
Dussica Kunaver, Pisanica
rdecca (Radovljica 1991)