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Baba Yaga

(All used here illustrations belong to the Russian Crafts and represent products which were sold or which are selling at the Russian Crafts store).

Once upon a time there was a man and woman who had an only daughter. When his wife died, the man took another. But the wicked stepmother took a dislike to the girl, beat her hard and wondered how to be rid of her forever. One day the father went off somewhere and the stepmother said to the girl, "Go to your aunt, to my sister, and ask her for a needle and thread to sew you a blouse." The aunt was really Baba Yaga, the bony witch.

Now, the little girl was not stupid and she first went to her own aunt for advice. "Good morrow. Auntie," she said. "Mother has sent me to her sister for a needle and thread to sew me a blouse. What should I do?" The aunt told her what to do. "My dear niece," she said. "You will find a birch-tree there that will lash your face; you must tie it with a ribbon. You will find gates that will creak and bang; you must pour oil on the hinges. You will find dogs that will try to rip you apart; you must throw them fresh rolls. You will find a cat that will try to scratch your eyes out; you must give her some ham." The little girl went off, walked and walked and finally came to the witch's abode. Baba Yaga

There stood a hut, and inside sat Baba Yaga, the bony witch, spinning. "Good day. Auntie," said the little girl. "Good day, dearie," the witch replied. "Mother sent me for a needle and thread to sew me a blouse," said the girl. "Very well," Baba Yaga said. "Sit down and weave." The girl sat at the loom. then Baba Yaga went out and told her serving-maid, "Go and heat up the bath-house and give my niece a good wash; I want to eat her for breakfast." The serving-maid did as she was bid; and the poor little girl sat there half dead with fright, begging, "Oh, please, dear serving-maid, don't bum the wood, pour water on instead, and carry the water in a sieve." And she gave the maid a kerchief.

Meanwhile Baba Yaga was waiting; she went to the window and asked, "Are you weaving, dear niece? Are you weaving, my dear?" "I'm weaving, Auntie," the girl replied, "I'm weaving, my dear." When Baba Yaga moved away from the window, the little girl gave some ham to the cat and asked her whether there was any escape. At once the cat replied, "Here is a comb and towel. Take them and run away. Baba Yaga will chase you; put your ear to the ground and, when you hear her coming, throw down the towel—and a wide, wide river will appear. And if she crosses the river and starts to catch you up, put your ear to the ground again and, when you hear her coming close, throw down your comb — and a dense forest will appear. She won't be able to get through that."

The little girl took the towel and comb and ran. As she ran from the house, the dogs tried to tear her to pieces, but she tossed them the fresh rolls and they let her pass. The gates tried to bang shut, but she poured some oil on the hinges, and they let her through. The birch-tree tried to lash her face, but she tied it with a ribbon, and it let her pass. In the meantime, the cat sat down at the loom to weave—though, truth to tell, she tangled it all up instead. Now and then Baba Yaga would come to the window and call, "Are you weaving, dear niece? Are you weaving, my dear?" And the cat would answer in a low voice, "I'm weaving. Auntie. I'm weaving, my dear."

The witch rushed into the hut and saw that the girl was gone. She gave the cat a good beating and scolded her for not scratching out the girl's eyes. But the cat answered her, "I've served you for years, yet you've never even given me a bone, but she gave me some ham." Baba Yaga then turned on the dogs, the gates, the birch-tree and the serving-maid, and set to thrashing and scolding them all. But the dogs said to her, "We've served you for years, yet you've never even thrown us a burnt crust, but she gave us fresh rolls." And the gates said, "We've served you for years, yet you've never even poured water on our hinges, but she oiled them for us." And the birch-tree said, "I've served you for years, yet you've never even tied me up with thread, but she tied me with a ribbon." And the serving-maid said, "I've served you for years, yet you've never even given me a rag, but she gave me a kerchief."

 

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