Thursday, March 08, 2012

Fatanstical Fantoccini: Baba Yaga

Fantastical Fantoccini: Baba Yaga 
Yesterday on FaceBook I posted an image of yet another Fantastical Fantoccini I had been working on and   I decided to do another quiz ...although this time I didn't bother asking folks the marionette's function.  This seemed to obvious.  Yes the wings flap...
Instead I asked what legend or folktale served as the source of inspiration.  Lots and lots got it correct (I need to make my quizzes harder).  
It is indeed Baba Yaga.
Baba Yaga is a witch in slavic folktales.  Sometimes a wise sage, but mostly an evil witch.  She rides in a flying mortar while using her pestle as the rudder.  Her broom is used to brush away her trail.   Here's a comic book version:
art by: Francesco Francavilla
For the most part she is not a nice surrounded by a fence made of bones, capped by skulls.  Cool idea...unless you one of the skulls....
art by Ivan Yakovlevich Bilibin
The pretty girl in the above art is not Baba, but the Vasilisa who is sent out to retrieve light fromt the crone...and is taken hostage.  Ultimately, the beautiful girl is set free by Baba Yaga's pets...not very loyal pets, apparently.

Baba Yaga is a hag.  
 I always think of her as the woman in Drag Me to Hell...
 ..perhaps Sea Hag from Popeye.

The Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky's suite Pictures at an Exhibition contains a movement entitled The Hut of Baba Yaga

For me the most interesting thing about her is her house...said to be perched upon chicken legs...or in the Polish version a singular leg, perhaps for mobility.   It seems to me that one leg makes for a bumpy ride.  Two on the other hand...

Art by Yoitisl

It is suspected that this house design was based on an ancient slavic burial structure: 
Art by Nicholas Roerich

On a more contemporary level (though probably not inspired by Baba Yaga) this is from Japan:

Architect Terunobu Fujimori - entitled: Takasugi-an (a teahouse too high).

Now to my version

As usual it is made form various bits and pieces.  

Plastic angel wings, cheap little birdhouse, camera lens...which by the how she keeps an eye on you.

 I was a bit more subtle with the leg...
For some strange reason I tried to keep it a bit more subdued.   

You might see something a bit out of place...
A Virgin Mary above the lens.  
What would that be doing on an old crone's doorway? 
The reason for that was because one of the elements that I find interesting about this character is that she is sometimes bad and sometimes...not as bad.    So when you go to her door...if you were to  see a symbol that embodies the positive...does that mean she will help...or is she merely deceiving the visitor into a false sense of security?  Similar to the candy house in Hansel and Gretel.  
To quote Sir Lawrence Olivier in the Marathon Man:
"Is it safe?"

So...beware the Baba Yaga.  After all, she is sometimes said to be cannibalistic.

 If she offers you a bowl of might say you've already eaten.


LuLu said...

Howdy Michael,
Baba Yagoa is fabulous - as is all of your work!

Would love for you to visit my blog, and become a follower when you have a moment or 2.


SooZeQue said...

Stunning! Assemblage is on my bucket list - maybe when I'm done with the resurrected metal and shovel world I live in I shall get there. I guess following the master is a good place to start with how it's done. Luv your visions!

Yvonne Barreau-Fein said...


Stephanie Lee said...

In one version of the story, the girl is rescued by consulting a doll in her pocket that was given to her by her mother (who got it from her mother and so on and so forth). It represented her internal guide.

Whichever way the girl got away, I'm with you in thinking it's good she's not in the soup. She would likely agree. :) said...

Is this sold? It is extraordinary! Wish my house had wings and chicken legs