As Easter approaches, a remarkable display of decorative eggs has been presented in Bytom as part of a competition held to honor a 1,000-year-old Silesian tradition.
Hosted by the Upper Silesian Museum in Bytom, the exhibition seeks to shed light on an ancient custom relating to the so-called Kroszonki, elaborately painted eggs engraved with often floral designs.
Ethnographer Anna Grabińska-Szczęśniak, head of the museum’s ethnography department, told TFN: “This Polish tradition is more or less 1,000 years old with the custom of decorating eggs at Easter. it dates back to the end of the 10th century.
“The oldest eggs were discovered at the site of the old medieval Slavic stronghold of Ostrówek near Opole in Upper Silesia.”
Once dyed with natural ingredients from onion skins, tree bark, dried raspberry leaves and the like, they were then carved with sharp objects such as knives or razors before to be offered to parents and relatives.
The regional variant, Kroszonki, takes its name from the word krasić (to decorate).
Ever since the egg was adopted for its symbolic properties by Christianity, it has been commonly presented as a symbol of resurrection as well as new life.
However, in the middle of the 20th century, concerns were expressed that the art of decorating eggs in the run-up to Easter was in danger of dying out.
To encourage younger generations to participate in the practice, competitions have been set up, particularly in Opole.
“Our competition dates back to 1989 and its aim is to promote Silesian Easter traditions while preserving the cultural identity of Silesia and inspiring respect not only for the heritage of the region, but also for the craftsmanship passed down from generation to generation. generation,” says Grabińska. -Szczęśniak.
“Any activity that helps maintain the traditional shapes of decorative Easter eggs is very important,” she continues, “and our competition is one such initiative: it supports regional artists, integrates the local community and introduces people to the ‘festive atmosphere”.
Now considered one of the city’s signature events, this year’s competition saw 38 people submit a total of 160 eggs.
“The age of the participants ranged from 18 to 86, with the oldest competitor with us since the very first edition,” says Grabińska-Szczęśniak.
“After thirty-two editions of the competition, we can see that the creators who have been with us for years have achieved mastery, and those who enter as newcomers benefit from learning from these masters and often remain themselves for years. Thanks to this, we can see real masterpieces at the exhibition.
Divided into four categories, each is designed to highlight a different discipline.
“The engraving – which consists of scratching patterns on dyed eggs with a pointed tool – is attractive, precise and rich in ornamentation; wax painting (batik) which is a multi-step technique and considered the most difficult; the third category includes other traditional techniques such as covering eggs with rushes and straw; while the fourth demonstrates more innovative methods.
In the latter case, they are eggs painted in acrylic or oil, colored with felt-tip pen or wrapped in lace or cut out with a dental drill to present openwork motifs.
The only requirement is that the eggs be natural and popped (meaning empty) or hard-boiled for at least four hours.
Although chicken eggs are the most common, goose, quail and ostrich eggs are also not unheard of.
“Entrants are also required to submit five eggs displaying a technique,” says Grabińska-Szczęśniak, “and after the exhibition, one will be kept by the museum while the rest will be returned to their creators.”
Unsurprisingly, this year’s edition also featured a Ukrainian tilt with eggs painted in the blue and yellow colors of the country’s flag.
Decided by an online vote, the winners can be admired, as well as all the other participants, until April 30 at the museum.