Intangible Heritage of Croatia – Decoration of Easter ”Pisanice” Eggs

Total Croatia News

Will you be painting eggs this year?

Easter has rolled around again, and one of the main traditions related to Easter is egg painting.

This tradition draws its origins from old pagan customs, and with this, the beginning of spring was celebrated. This is a custom by which Easter has been celebrated for generations.

In northwestern Croatia, these kinds of eggs are called pisanice or pisanci and they symbolise the resurrection. Most of the egg colouring techniques still used today were passed down from generation to generation, many of them have sadly been lost to the windmills of time.

The technique of decorating eggs with was is part of the intangible heritage of Croatia and is common in both Podravina and Prigorje. The eggs are usually coloured in hot water with leaves or the shells of red onion, or sometimes with oak or walnut bark – in this way, you get red or brown coloured eggs. Some other vegetables used include both beets and parsley.

In order to apply the wax technique, the egg is covered in wax which is peeled off after colouring. The final result is red, brown or yellow eggs with white ornaments and designs. The tool which is used to apply this technique is called ”kličica, kičica or kiščica”. Some housewives decorated the eggs with a knife and created intricate details in this manner.

Many Easter traditions are practiced in this part, as well as in other parts of Croatia, and they include processions, saving flowers from Palm Sunday, food preparations on Easter Saturday, food blessings on Easter Day, open fires for Easter evening, and finally the egg hunt for the decorated ”pisanice” eggs. One more piece of heritage related to Easter egg decoration is a custom called ”matkanje” – before pisanice were carefully prepared because they were a gift for someone special.

The pisanica egg was also used for an egg fight called (matkanje) and by this, a friend would make a statement to strengthen their friendship even more, owing to this, nicely decorated pisanice eggs have become a symbol of friendship.

To preserve this heritage, the technique is taught by older generations to new ones. Also, recently there was a workshop called “Pisani Podravski Vuzem” for decorating eggs with wax in gallery of naive art Hlebine and had around 60 participants.

Now, try to make your own pisanice with wax decoration (recipe found online):

You will need:

– raw eggs
– wax or wax candle
– pin or toothpick
– egg colour – natural vegetable colouring or artificial colouring


– Light the candle and wait for the wax to melt
– Collect some wax with the pin or toothpick
– Draw decorations
– Put eggs in water with colour
– Cook the eggs on the fire

After cooking, cool off the eggs!

You can remove the wax by scratching it off or you can melt it with a candle, the end product will see the eggs covered with white decorations.


SOURCE (text, photos): Museum of Koprivnica,, Pressedan, Slunj Parish, Coolinarika


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