Easter Eggs
In  Lithuania, as in many other nations of the world, Easter eggs were considered as a symbol of life, the God, fecundity, and nature awakening.  These are one of the most fragile folk-art works. The oldest retained pieces are from the end of 19th century, decorated using the patterns of ceramics and ornamentation of the primitive society.
    The art of Easter eggs is a part of art and crafts and related to cult rituals. The Cristians use Easter eggs in ceremonies and rites on Easter and  other spring feasts like St. George's Day, Pentecost. The Easter egg is not only a decoration on the festive table, but also a gift to relatives, children, and guests. There’s a tradition to exchange, knock and roll the eggs.
    The custom to mottle and exchange the eggs is much older than the Christianity. Almost every nation has the custom to decorate Easter eggs. Easter egg, as any other egg, has a meaning of vitality, beginning of spring, joy and happiness. Easter eggs are even mentioned in old Sanskrit annals; Martynas Mazvydas also talks about them.
    There are three small collections of 19th century of Easter eggs in the museums of Lithuania. The collections are in the National M.K. Ciurlionis museum collected by T. Daugirdas, in Vytautas Magnus War museum collected by B. Buracas and in National Museum of Lithuania collected by Lithuanian academic union.   
    Til 20th century Easter eggs were dyed with natural paints: onion peels, birch leaves, hay, oak or alder barks. Nowadays eggs in Lithuania are painted with aniline or other synthetic dye. The most popular colors are various shades of red, black, brown, green, blue. If an egg is painted only with one color it is called just a dyed one. Usually black color is just the background and ornaments are painted with red, white, green colors on it.
    Easter eggs are mottled in two ways:
1)    Scratching ornaments with sharp object like needle, knife or razor on whole-colored eggshell. The pattern then looks like openwork made blow-by-blow, the lines are graphic, angular. Sometimes it looks like a piece of graphics art.
2)    The ornaments might be overlaid on the eggshell with melted wax (stearin, non-salted grease, tallow) using a stick or a pin. The egg is dyed after the wax decoration is drawn. Multicolored Easter egg can be multicolored when drawing ornaments with wax and dyeing it several times, beginning with light colors and finishing with dark ones.
Usually women painted eggs with wax, men - scratched them.
A very frequent technique of dyeing is batik – it doesn’t require many skills. Often it is done using onion peel, strawberry leaves, tape, etc. The egg is covered with them and wrapped into rag, then twisted with thread and boiled in dye.
Modern way to decorate the eggs is to color them with special very intense color varnish or to stick a sticker.
Some Easter eggs have simple decorations but the colors are impressive, others on contrary – the color don’t play the main role, but the patterns are more multiplexed and ornate. Some of the patterns are common to all the nations, some – only to the neighborhood where the Easter egg is mottled and some are even the same as ones on the things from prehistoric times.
As every individual have different taste about which pattern is best looking and how should an artistic Easter egg look like, there are no schemes for composition. The only thing that has an influence is the shape of the egg.
There are lots of symbols painted on eggs: sun, cross, spiral, grass-snake, ring, star, herringbone, footmark of the bird, rue, etc. Traditionally there are 3 main schemes to compose ornaments:
1) To divide an egg vertically and symmetrize ornament on both sides;
2) To divide an egg horizontally and to decorate both ends;
3) To decorate an egg in a spiral way.
    The pattern is structured of dots and dashes which go diminutive, and looks similar to oblong drops. Out of these two elements all the pattern is created. It is hard to find two same looking Easter eggs as any reshuffle of these elements can change all the composition. It’s very popular to compose small suns from dashes. Sometimes they are rimmed with lines of dots or rue’s spray – it is the symbol of sun and other lights in the sky, occasionally it becomes a blossom of a flower. The circle is also a sign of eternity, never-ending life-cycle.  Similar pattern can be found on bobbins, pottery, needleworks, as well as bands, towels, bedspreads, on top of iron crosses. It is one of the oldest and most popular Lithuanian folk motifs. Although there are also some specific patterns, appropriate only to Easter eggs.
    What is not proper for Easter eggs is portraiture, national symbols, Christian iconography’s trappings.
Usage of  color differs from one region to the other.  Zemaitija/ Samogythia like dark or black Easter eggs, in Suvalkija – lighter ones, red, purple or violet. Grey colors are favorite, well-liked in Dzukija. Samogitians mainly used melted wax, motif of a small sun was especially popular, less popular were rue and herringbone patterns. Scratched eggs hardly can be found there. Various and most beautiful Easter eggs are done by Zanavykai. The brightest  mottle eggs are saved in the neighborhood of Aukstadvaris – here we find a combination of traditions from Suvalkija, Dzukija and Aukstatija.  In Joniskis, Rokiskis, Kupiskis, Panevezys and over districts of Aukstaitija Easter eggs were not mottled, but spot dyed or dyed in one color.