Monday, 21 October 2013

The Baba Yaga Book


BABA YAGA - famous iron-toothed witch of Russian folk tale. She lives in a house which walks about on chicken's legs and she flies in a mortar and pestle through the sky. Her garden fence is made of children's bones, and those who approach her hut in the woods must do so with all their wits and truths about them.
You may remember me painting this version of her a couple of years ago, and that I mentioned it was for a book all about Baba Yaga and her various conjurings in word and image. I am pleased to announce that the book - Baba Yaga: The Wild Witch of the East in Russian Fairy Tales - has finally been published by Mississippi University Press.


The whole thing is a lavish hardback creation with a plethora of images of Baba Yaga ranging from old lubok prints, Ivan Bilibin illustrations, old laquerwork paintings to more modern renderings familiar and new, and amongst them is my painting! There are some wonderful tales collected together here in honour of this most formidable of witches, and fascinating words of introduction by the translator of the tales Sibelan Forrester and folklorist Jack Zipes.


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A beautifully illustrated collection of fairy tales about the most iconic and active of Russian magical characters

Baba Yaga is an ambiguous and fascinating figure. She appears in traditional Russian folktales as a monstrous and hungry cannibal or as a canny inquisitor of the adolescent hero or heroine of the tale. In new translations by Sibelan Forrester, Baba Yaga: The Wild Witch of the East in Russian Fairy Tales is a selection of tales that draws from the famous collection of Aleksandr Afanas'ev, but also includes some tales from the lesser-known nineteenth-century collection of Ivan Khudiakov. This new collection includes beloved classics such as "Vasilisa the Beautiful" and "The Frog Princess," as well as a version of the tale that is the basis for the ballet The Firebird.

The foreword and introduction place these tales in their traditional context with reference to Baba Yaga's continuing presence in today's culture--the witch appears iconically on tennis shoes, tee shirts, even tattoos. The stories are enriched with many wonderful illustrations of Baba Yaga, some old (traditional "lubok" woodcuts), some classical (the marvelous images from Victor Vasnetsov and Ivan Bilibin), and some quite recent or solicited specifically for this collection.

Sibelan Forrester, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, is a professor of Russian at Swarthmore College and coeditor of Engendering Slavic Literatures. Helena Goscilo is a professor of Russian culture and visual culture, and is Department Chair of Slavic and East European languages and cultures at Ohio State College of Humanities, and coeditor of Politicizing Magic: An Anthology of Russian and Soviet Fairy Tales. Martin Skoro, Minneapolis, Minnesota, is a graphic designer and illustrator at MartinRoss Design.

256 pages (approx.), 8 1/2 x 11 inches, 45 color illustrations, introduction, foreword, bibliography
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A wonderful book for lovers of Russian folktales, art and all those brave bearers of skull-lanterns through dark forests... 


And if you would like a print of my painting(s) of Baba Yaga... just step this way.

11 comments:

Bedford Gypsy said...

I love your illustration of Baba Yaga, well done for it being published in such a wonderful book.

Charlotte said...

Thank you so much for the heads up on this. I have loved Russian and Eastern European folk tales ever since I was a child. Baba Yaga lives in the corner of my classroom, overseeing the reading corner. The kids love her (although she is masquerading as a witch from Macbeth just now). Good luck with FB venture; a tiresome place but with a many fingered reach.

tveirhrafnar.com said...

That looks like a great book! Pleased that your work is included!

little Z handmade said...

That book looks wonderful and I love your Baba Yaga illustration!

Jackshouse said...

Добрый день, Рима! В одном ряду с Билибиным, это ли не замечательно! А Баба Яга такая настоящая ;)

REIFYN said...

I'm very glad for you to have an illustration in this book of Baba Yaga. I did want to mention to folk out there that few people today comprehend who or what Baba Yaga is. Most currently-available Russian fairy-tales are fairly recent renditions that have been translated (by non-Russians, by and large) and not by folklorists who've gone back as far as possible to fragments of the oldest stories. Long before someone in the 20th century changed the name of the tale, Vasilisa the Beautiful was Vasilisa the Wise; the ending with the prince getting the girl is a tack-on bit of modern fairy-tale fluff. The story essentially ends with the skull-flames consuming the heroine's step-family. The bones that make up the fence round the Baba Yaga's hut are not specifically "children's bones". When one tells a tale over and over and translates it and retells it, key elements are lost and changed. I travelled for 7 years throughout Europe collecting oral stories in remote areas that would otherwise be lost and visited the national libraries where many manuscripts were kept of recorded folktales, such as J. F. Campbell of Islay's Popular Tales of the West Highlands, very few of which were ever translated or published. I appreciate all efforts to continue interest in folktales, including this one...but like to give people a glimpse of "the rest of the story".

tut-tut said...

How great to be the illustrator on such a project. I shall get myself a copy as a Christmas present. Best wishes on you book signings!

Heather said...

Congratulations. How exciting and rewarding to have your work included in this wonderful publication.

Anonymous said...

How wonderful she is, and your painting is, and the fact that your work is published here is! That's a lot of wonderful! Congratulations, and may you continue to create your magical art and music. I love visiting here - it is like a refuge for me.

Cheers,
Carolyn

artisjokken said...

it looks absolutely amazing, love these stories, I grew up with them, and illustrations are beautiful. Your baba yaga is wonderful contribution! Congrats!

ramona said...

Haven't commented much but please know that I think of you and your wonderful ways often.
Have been busy painting sheet metal things…

I love this painting and am not surprised others love it too. It is one of my favorites. Russian folklore has a special place in my hooked nose, chicken footed,
black enameled heart.

Best wishes dear Rima and warm loving days to come!