Jump to navigation Jump to search This article is about the entity in Slavic folklore. Andreas Johns identifies Baba Yaga as «one beautiful russian woman portrait the most memorable and distinctive figures in eastern European folklore,» and observes that she is «enigmatic» and often exhibits «striking ambiguity. Variations of the name Baba Yaga are found in the languages of the Eastern Slavic peoples. The first element, baba, is transparently a babble word.
In Old Russian, baba may mean ‘midwife’, ‘sorceress’, or ‘fortune teller’. Baba may also have a pejorative connotation in modern Russian, both for women as well as for «an unmanly, timid, or characterless man». These associations have led to variety of theories on the figure of Baba Yaga, though the presence of the element baba may have simply been taken as its primary meaning of ‘grandmother’ or ‘old woman’. The element may appear as a means of glossing the second element, iaga, with a familiar component.
Additionally, baba may have also been applied as a means of distinguishing Baba Yaga from a male counterpart. While a variety of etymologies have been proposed for the second element of the name, Yaga, it remains far more etymologically problematic and no clear consensus among scholars has resulted. In Lomonosov’s grammar, Baba Yaga is mentioned twice among other figures largely from Slavic tradition. In some tales a trio of Baba Yagas appear as sisters, all sharing the same name. He entered and found Baba Yaga the Bony-legged. Fie, fie,» she said, «the Russian smell was never heard of nor caught sight of here, but it has come by itself.
Are you here of your own free will or by compulsion, my good youth? Largely of my own free will, and twice as much by compulsion! Do you know, Baba Yaga, where lies the thrice tenth kingdom? Ivan walks for some time before encountering a small hut identical to the first. This Baba Yaga makes the same comments and asks the same question as the first, and Ivan asks the same question. After walking for some time, Ivan eventually finds the chicken-legged hut of the youngest of the three sisters turning in an open field.