Fairy Tales & Folklore
"The Stone Flower"
The Goddess of Copper Mountain guarding the path of Danila & Katya
"Ivan and the Firebird"
[From a now-defunct website]
"The Tale of Dazhdbog, Grandfather-Deity of all Russians": this site is run by Sergei Naumov, a Russian graduate student in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is passionate, honest, funny, quirky, full of strong opinions -- and his grasp of English is altogether charming. Here, Naumov tells the lengthy story of the ancient Grandfather of all Russians, the god Dazhdbog, son of a protective warrior god and a river-maiden, Ros ("Russia" comes from the name of this river-woman). From the god’s mother to his several wives, this narrative is filled with strong, assertive, intelligent women.
There is wit and insight in the way in which Naumov tells this story; there is also a touching respect, for he clearly delights in being, himself, a grandchild of Dazhdbog, after whom he has named his website’s homepage (see under INFORMATION: GENERAL). Naumov provides excellent references for readers interested in going more deeply.
On a personal note: Naumov’s webpage is one of the first I saved ("bookmarked") when I ventured out onto the web in mid-December 1997. I e-mailed him after reading his narration of Dazhdbog and asked if he knew anything about a 1946 film by Ptushko, The Stone Flower, a film I’d seen as a child around 1950. I’d been seeking it for years without success and assumed it was lost in the upheavals of postwar Communism. Naumov e-mailed back that he had seen it, not as a film, but as a video when he was little. I was very excited to learn that the old film had survived to be transferred into a video format!
Because of Sergei Naumov's important piece of information, I finally traced the video (see below under Books Without Borders) and got several copies -- in Russian only, but an English subtitled version is due out in 1999. This means I'm now able to show excerpts from this wonderful film in my Folklore and Fairy Tales course at Pacifica Graduate Institute. My own illustrated re-telling of the story (based on the fairy tale as well as the film) is now online at Sunbirds: see below or click here for a direct link: "The Stone Flower."(Our original Pacifica "pioneer" students will recognize the title of this story as the subject of the lacquer box they gave me the summer of 1997, thanks to the kindness of Colleen's son, Bill, who travels often to Russia and speaks the language fluently.)http://www.dreamworks.org/dreamwks.htm
The Tale of the Humpbacked Pony: a long, detailed version of this tale will be found at the home of Dreamworks (click on the tale’s title under the second illustration). Note: this organization offers a series of informative essays on Russia, lacquer boxes, icons, collectors, how to spot a fake, etc. They also offer major links to a wide area of sources on culture, history, linguistics, and much else about Eurasia.http://russianculture.miningco.com/library/weekly/aa011998.htm
Detail from the Humpbacked Pony
(Courtesy of Sunbirds, see below)
This sensitive essay on the ancient art of Pysanka, or painted eggs, isn't an actual folktale, but it's full of rich folkloric data. Pagan folklore as well as Christian beliefs play an important role in this art. The essay is by Linda De Laine, an artist and doctoral candidate in Biblical Studies, who runs the Russian Cultural site at the Mining Company (see under INFORMATION: GENERAL).http://russianculture.miningco.com/msub9.htmNote: The spiritual significance of Russian Easter egg-painting should intrigue my European Sacred Tradition students who know about Russia's and Old Europe's beautifully decorated Neolithic egg-bottomed pots as symbols of creation and precursors of the Grail. The fact that the root of pysanka turns out to be a verb for "writing" also ties in with what I've shared with you of the language-connection so often found with vessels of life (Vak in India, Iris in Greece, Nanshe in Babylonia, the Grail-Maiden in Europe).
This is a larger Russian Cultural site from the Mining Company (the name comes from their desire to "mine" the web for treasures), also by Linda De Laine. It offers a collection of links to various folkloric sites, both with and without illustrations. Subjects include folk medicine, death rituals, costumes, proverbs, folklore in Prokofiev's music, and various tales and stories (including several slready listed on my own website).
Russian fairy tale, "Twelve Months,"
(see detail of the young girl below)
Artist: M. Pichugina
(Courtesy of Tradestone International: this is a direct link to "Twelve Months";
see directly below for other tales)
http://www.lacquerbox.com/tales.htmThe moving story of "Twelve Months" is about a young girl driven into the snow by her stepmother and ordered to find spring flowers; she meets the twelve months in the form of twelve brothers; they take pity on her, speed up time, and she finds the flowers. The stepmother plots revenge. (For the full story, see Tradestone's site from the above link.)
Eight lengthy tales -- "Tsar Sultan," "Old Man Winter," "Ruslan and Ludmilla," "The Snow Maiden," "The Tale of Ivan Tsarevich, the Firebird and the Gray Wolf," "The Golden Cockerel," "The Humpbacked Pony," and "The Tale of the Dead Princess" [a Snow White variant] -- are at this site for Tradestone International, a Baltimore company dealing in imported Russian lacquer boxes, most of which have fairytale motifs. Tradestone’s owners, Andrew Stonebarger and his Russian wife, retell these eight, engaging illustrated Russian fairytales. More fairytales will eventually be added but, as of November 1998, only these eight are available.
Tradestone's Home Page also provides beautifully photographed images of their available lacquer boxes (click on the small images in order to get gorgeous larger images and closeups of details), and data on the artists and history of the four Russian villages creating these boxes. Of special interest is the "Hall-of-Fame" page, a collection of favorites from years past, chosen annually by website visitors. This is a beautifully crafted commercial site. Each box is fully guaranteed and the price refundable if one dislikes it. From my own experience, I can vouch for the integrity of this firm. The rich, sensate colors of this art can be intoxicating! (Note: for another of their boxes on my site, see their richly done Cinderella on my Western Europe's Fairytales page.)
http://www.sunbirds.com/lacquer/readings [Link updated 19 February 2000]
This is an equally beautiful folkloric site at Sunbirds, a San Diego import firm owned by Pavel Tyutin. There are over 2 dozen fairytales and legends (generally shorter than Tradestone's) listed at this site, many are illustrated, all are intriguing. Pavel recently invited me to write stories and folklore commentary for his site under a pseudonym. My first story is, naturally, a lengthy re-telling (illustrated) of The Stone Flower, a story which exists on no other site that I know of -- just click on this title if you wish to see it. [Note: it's lengthy so please be patient while it loads.]
Small images on Sunbirds Home Page can be clicked to access gorgeous larger images, plus closeups of details. The boxes found at this site are of the same excellent quality and backed by the same guarantee and refundable price as at Tradestone. Sunbirds also offers books on Russian art and lore, intriguing data on the individual artists who create the designs, and photos and even brief videos taken on Pavel's frequent trips to Russia.http://www.ajourney.com/box/page28.html
Favorite Fairy Tales: This commercial site, run by Journey to the East (in Pennsylvania and New Jersey), has four pages of fairy tales, four tales/page, each illustrated with a lacquered box (for sale – and clickable for a larger version). Text is minimal but the photography is well done and some of the boxes are lovely. Warning: moving from page to page is awkward because you have to return to the top each time and click a page number in small print near the upper right hand corner. It’s very easy to miss -- for some time I thought there was only one page here. The site offers other Russian imports as well.
Detail from "The Scarlet Flower"
(From the Moscow Guide site: see directly below)
Moscow Guide runs this site, with related links to many aspects of Moscow life. The site is very small , none of the boxes are for sale – and only one depicts a fairy tale, "The Scarlet Flower" (a Beauty and the Beast Variant). This box has a powerful, mystical quality, however, and the site itself is one of the most visually exquisite I’ve found (give a few extra moments for the surprising, scrolling side-borders to come through). Although small, this one is well worth a visit.http://www.TheRussianShop.com/russhop/cards/cards.htm
There are many other sites depicting fairy tales without texts, but I've decided against including them here, either because their photography is so blurred, or because they are so poorly designed that their "frames" get in the way of seeing more than a piecemeal view of otherwise fine boxes. The above site, however, a Russian shop located in Illinois, has no lacquer boxes to sell but they do have cards with fairytale reproductions on them (click on the small thumbnails to see a larger version). Some are quite lovely and they're inexpensive (under $2. each). [July 9, 1999 update: their link changed -- the above is now correct; they now also have an "800" line for orders.]
Finally, before leaving these lacquer boxes, I'm including this site with its detailed and useful history of the art; it also explores the four villages creating these lacquer boxes: Palekh, Fedoskino, Mstera, and Kholui.
Ivan, the Princess, and the wicked magician Koschei
(Courtesy of Sunbirds, see above)
Books Without Borders, a division of Storyland International in Texas, runs this commercial website, which specializes in children’s books, videos, and tapes from Russia (also France, Germany, Italy, and Spain). Most items are available only in their original languages and not in English; some are translations of English books and films (e.g., Disney’s Bambi). Many of the Russian videos are folklore tales.
On a personal note: through the kindness of Russian-born Jenia Strudell at this site, I was finally able to locate the video made from the 1946 Ptushko classic, The Stone Flower, a work for which I had been searching for many years. (See above under "A Tale of Dazhdbog.")
EASTERN EUROPE:Eastern Europe Menu:
Up to Europe's Opening PagePan-Slavic Traditions & Beliefs:
Russia:Fairy Tales & Folklore: ||| Sacred Ikons: ||| Music:The Balkans:(Note: here you'll find links to individual Balkan countries/states/kingdoms: Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia, once these have been activated.Other Slavic Lands
*** For Greece, see under "Western Europe"; for Hungary, see under "Eastern Europe: Finno-Ugric Peoples.")
Kosovo/Serbian Peace Invocation:
Baltic States:Estonia: ||| Latvia: ||| LithuaniaFinno-Ugric Peoples:Finland: || Hungary:Eurasia: The Caucasus & Beyond:
(Note: for Estonia, see "Baltic Sates"; for Sami and western Siberian peoples, see "INDIGENOUS: Circumpolar.")
Down to Western Europe
Note: my complete Site Map and e-mail address are on my Home Page.