During the Communist occupation of Czechoslovakia, fine arts were virtually snuffed out. But women's crafts like painted Easter eggs were regarded as nonthreatening, apolitical. The Communist government even sent Ludmila Kocisova on cultural exchanges to Poland and Russia to demonstrate her art.

The Communists left power in 1989. These days jugglers, mimes, musicians, and artists vie for attention in Prague's Old Town Square, and churches open their doors for public concerts on summer nights. Tourists from all over the world flood the lively capital city. And almost everyone goes home with at least one Easter egg painted with bright, intricate designs on the fragile shell, which costs about a dollar and a half.
  "Vnorovy, with its three thousand people, is the only place in the world where, in each house, at least one woman paints Easter eggs. That has been true for over a hundred years," Michal Pavlas says as we drive through rolling fields of sunflowers, poppies, wheat and corn toward Moravia, four hours southeast of Prague.

Michal, twenty-eight, is a buyer for Ceska Lidova Remsla, galleries in Prague devoted to traditional Czech crafts. Ludmilla Kocisova paints only for the Ethnographic Institute and these shops."My mother taught me how to make traditional designs and how to create my own. You know, no egg design is purely traditional; every single one is different, like snowflakes."
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