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Keeping Tradition Alive: The Art of Penganje Eggs for Easter TZ Dubrovnik

Keeping Tradition Alive: The Art of Penganje Eggs for Easter

Written by  Mar 22, 2024

As Easter approaches, homes throughout the Dubrovnik region bustle with activity, preparing for one of the most significant religious holidays of the year. Steeped in tradition, Easter in Dubrovnik is a time-honored affair, where customs are revered, and past generations' wisdom is treasured. Among the most cherished customs of Easter in Dubrovnik are the elaborately decorated Easter eggs, a tradition that has endured for centuries.

In the Holy Week leading up to Easter, locals embark on the intricate process of hand-painting eggs using the traditional "penganje" technique, which is particularly prevalent in the Dubrovnik region of Primorje and Konavle.

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These hand-painted eggs, known as "pengana" eggs, are renowned for their intricate ornaments, written messages, and greetings that are unique to the region. While the "penganje" technique may appear daunting at first, experienced artisans from Primorje and Konavle insist that practice makes perfect, with each painted egg becoming more beautiful with time.

The process begins with raw eggs, which are carefully painted using a needle with a protruding tip, mounted onto a piece of wood, typically laurel. This tool, known as a "penica," is dipped into melted beeswax and used to inscribe messages and designs onto the eggshell.

In the past, when traditional farmhouse kitchens were prevalent, women would hold bowls containing ashes and embers on their laps, where the beeswax would melt at a consistent high temperature. Today, modern conveniences such as stoves or special stands with small candles facilitate the melting of beeswax, making the process more convenient.

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Legend has it that the first painted egg of Easter is traditionally given to a loved one, often featuring a heart as a central motif. These "pengana" eggs serve as expressions of love and affection, often revealing romantic crushes or hidden emotions. As such, recipients of these gifts were carefully chosen, and red "pengana" eggs, symbolizing life and nature, were particularly prized.

Despite the passage of time, the tradition of hand-painted Easter eggs in Dubrovnik continues to thrive, cherished as a symbol of cultural identity and heritage. Families gather together, passing down the art of penganje from one generation to the next, ensuring that this age-old tradition endures.

The significance of these eggs extends beyond their decorative appeal; they serve as tangible expressions of love, unity, and the enduring spirit of Easter. As Easter approaches, homes in Dubrovnik come alive with the vibrant colors and intricate designs of these cherished symbols, a testament to the enduring power of tradition and community.


The Voice of Dubrovnik


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