This is the earliest English language booklet about pysanky. The material in it was written by Yaroslava Surmach, a well-known Ukrainian-American folk artist (and of Surma store fame), for inclusion in the “Ukrainian Arts” book, and released in booklet form as a reprint.
Yaroslava ,came from an artistic family, and learned traditional crafts from her mother. She studied at Cooper Union College of Art, where she excelled in calligraphy and carved lettering. Yara continued to practice Ukrainian customs, including pysanky, which she promoted by designing a do-it-yourself kit, which sells to this day at the family store.
It is a scholarly effort, especially in comparison to other English language materials on pysanky of a similar (or even later) vintage. In a mere 32 pages she covers a lot of material–legends, traditions, symbolism–as well as including pages of instruction in modern methods of egg decorating (with step-by-step photos).
It is a resource that has been used by other authors over the years, and remains a valuable resource even now, with all the other material out there. It is a lovely little addition to any pysanka library.
1.Two points from her book keep popping up in other writing (books, articles and pamphlets), particularly English-language, about pysanky. One is the legend of the monster who can be kept from escaping his chains only if people make pysanky, which shows up on so many web sites and in so many books. In more recent versions, the monster has gotten a name and the story has become much more involved. Her version more closely approximates the version given in Voropay’s book.
The other is references to eight pointed star being a symbol of the “pagan sun god Atar.” The only god by this name that I can come up with is the Persian Atar, God of Fire and Foiling Evil. This fact, too, is seen in much modern English-language material about pysanky.