The Russia of the Czars and the common people - precious eggs to painted eggs
It's in Russia that the celebration of Easter finds its most exuberant expression. Easter is the greatest feast in the Russian Orthodox calendar. Tolstoy, Gogol and Dostoyevsky all chose Easter night as the time for their characters' rebirth after a series of trials and tribulations.
Here Easter is marked by the exchange of eggs and three kisses. The kind of egg depends on the fortune of the giver, but the painted chicken's egg is by far the most popular. Then come glass, porcelain, wood, silver and finally the precious golden egg.
Carl Fabergé, creator of precious eggs for the Czars The story began in 1884 when Fabergé created an Easter egg at the behest of Czar Alexander III for his beloved wife, Czarina Maria. The egg was designed to remind the empress of her native land - an egg of exquisite detail, of translucent nacred enamel with insets of silver, gold and precious stones. The egg became legendary and the Czar granted Fabergé an imperial warrant; thus he created an egg, a symbol of life and resurrection, as a present for the Czarina every year for 11 years.
Upon Alexander's death, Czar Nicholas II and his son Alexander carried on the tradition. The egg always had to contain a surprise that was kept secret, even from members of the family, until Easter morning. When the curious czar would ask Fabergé to reveal the secret, or at least to give him a hint, the jeweler would always reply simply, "Your Majesty will be pleased!"
Fabergé drew inspiration from Byzantine art. Other eggs were added to the collection and commemorated certain important events, such as Czar Nicholas II's coronation, the completion of the Siberian railroad, various birthdays, etc. Others portrayed the imperial yacht, Uspensky cathedral, Gatchina palace and later, during the war, the eggs depicted the Red Cross and the military. The collection includes 56 imperial eggs.
The Fabergé house in Germany carries on the tradition with master artisan and jeweler Victor Mayer.
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