In the Cabin on Chicken Legs lives Baba Yaga, an old Russian witch with magic powers who symbolizes for the dark side of wisdom and neglected dental care. Baba Yaga is usually shown as an ugly old woman with a huge and distorted nose and crooked, overgrown teeth, in old torn clothes, and dirty.
In most Slavic folk tales, she is portrayed as an antagonist; however, some characters in other mythological folk stories have been known to seek her out for her wisdom, and she has been known on rare occasions to offer guidance to lost souls. She is a very controversial character. Baba Yaga is not good, but is not entirely evil. She’s just kind of keepin’ it real, like the rest of us. She demands the Aretha Franklin approach – if you treat her with respect, she can help you with your needs.
She lives on the edge of the forest in a wooden cabin, which stands on a pair of giant chicken legs. The door of the cabin faces the forest and is hidden from the path. The house does not reveal the door until it is told the magic phrase, “turn your back to the forest, your front to me”. Like most witches, Baba Yaga can fly but she does not use a broomstick. Instead, she sits in a giant mortar (a bowl for grinding) with her knees almost touching her chin. She speeds above the forest, and uses a broom as a rudder to steer.
- Watch classic animation studio Soyuzmultfilm’s 1984 cartoon about Baba Yaga
- Super short and adorable claymation about Baba Yaga
- A good explanation about who Baba Yaga is and what she represents
- Video Clips from the film Morozko, with a particularly long-nosed Baba Yaga:
Clip 1, clip 2, clip 3
- The origin and character of Baba Yaga
- Baba Yaga’s character, from Russiapedia
- Wikipedia page for Baba Yaga
- Illustrations by famed 20th-century illustrator and stage designer, Ivan Bilibin