Humble Egg Has Place in Science, Myth, Art, Religion

By Loeffler, William | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 4, 2010 | Go to article overview

Humble Egg Has Place in Science, Myth, Art, Religion


Loeffler, William, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


They turn up in baskets every Easter, mysteriously delivered to children by that hip-hop artist with the long ears and fluffy tail. But there's much more to the humble egg than its kitschy association with Peter Cottontail.

That perfect oval shape contains everything, from the tiniest spark of life to the entire cosmos.

That's a lot of responsibility for something that usually competes with a chicken over which came first.

The present-day Easter egg follows a practice that dates at least as far back as Persia in 3000 B.C., when colored eggs were given to celebrate the coming of spring.

But in the realms of myth, art and science, the egg packs enough symbolism to rival "The Da Vinci Code."

Chinese myth holds that the world was created when a giant being hatched from an egg, whose broken parts became the Earth and sky. And consider the Big Bang theory, which employs the "cosmic egg" concept. It contends that universe was created by an explosion of extremely dense, compacted matter that is still expanding outward.

In that respect, it parallels an ancient Ukrainian belief that life at the beginning of the universe sprang from an egg.

Last week, Sts. Peter & Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Carnegie held their annual Easter egg sale, which featured 1,500 eggs decorated in a traditional Ukrainian batik style called pysanky. The craft uses wax and a stylus to create colors that can symbolize rebirth, fertility or Biblical references.

"The egg itself actually predates Christianity by at least a couple thousand years," says Michael Kapeluck, an iconographer and church member who helped organize the sale. "It was a pagan art form. The people were very agricultural. They were attached to land, whether it was in the wheat field or in the mountains. Their gods were very agricultural."

Eggs decorated with particular symbols were thought to have special powers, he says.

"They were basically for good luck," Kapeluck says. "The symbols on the egg would be fertility for a young couple. They would be for a good crop or would trap spirits so your household would be safe."

When Christianity emerged, much of the symbolism was lost, but the art form remained, he says.

"In ancient times, the line that went around the egg without beginning or end was eternity. That was very easily adapted to Christianity," Kapeluck says.

At least one scientist made use of the egg's symbolism to hammer home a revolutionary new idea.

In 1651, English physician William Harvey published his findings that all animals, even those who were "born alive," came from an egg. The cover of his seminal book, "Exercitationes de Generatione Animalium," featured an image of the Roman godJove pulling apart two halves of an egg, from which animals leap forth. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Humble Egg Has Place in Science, Myth, Art, Religion
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.