Embassy of the RS Washington /Newsroom /

The Embassy of Slovenia in Washington, DC hosts an exhibition BELA KRAJINA DECORATED EASTER EGGS

This Easter, the Embassy of Slovenia in Washington, DC, is opening an exhibition  Bela Krajina Decorated Easter Eggs or Belokranjske pisanice courtesy of the Museum of Bela Krajina in Metlika, Slovenia.

Bela Krajina (White Carniola) is the southeastern region of Slovenia, wedged between Gorjanci mountain range on one side and Kolpa River on the other. It is known for its rolling hills with vineyards and flatlands covered with birch trees. But it is also famous for an ancient springtime folk tradition – beautifully decorated Easter Eggs, locally known as ‘pisanice’.

Pisanice derives from the word ‘pisa’, meaning a line or a stripe, and denotes eggs which are not only uniformly colored, but also feature a painted, drawn or otherwise crafted decorative design. It is not known when exactly eggs became associated with Easter, but historical records show that they have long signified Jesus's wounds and blood in the Slovenian Catholic tradition. In addition they used to be an important source of nourishment and symbolized the promise of abundance, even after hard winters. The eggs could also be a gift from girls to their sweethearts and thereby expressed love and admiration. Today they are given as keepsakes to guests, friends and acquaintances.

The exhibition looks at the history of Bela krajina Easter Eggs from the 19th century to the present, and explores different styles. The best known is the batik technique: a pen-like tool is used to apply molten wax to an egg, creating an ornamental design. The process involves the egg being dyed in red, and because the wax prevents the dye from sticking to the areas where the wax was applied, a portion of the eggshell retains its original color. The wax is then removed, revealing the ornate pattern applied by the artist. Another technique is used to make ‘drsanke’, which involves a very different process in that the dye is applied first, and an intricate floral pattern is then carved onto the eggshell. The decorations take a great deal of skill, imagination and creativity since the etching is done without any pattern to follow.

The women that have over the centuries created those art pieces are unfortunately dwindling in their numbers in the recent era as the old traditions are slowly but surely dying out. Even though the names of the artists are mostly unknown, we are fortunate that they left behind an exceptional legacy of folk art and heritage for us to admire and preserve.

In-person visits to the exhibition by individuals or families are welcome but only by prior appointment and according to the CDC guidelines to curb spreading COVID-19. Please write to: sloembassy.washington[at]gov.si or call 202 386 6601 to book your visit.

The Embassy of Slovenia wishes you happy Easter Holidays.