1863 (pub): Three Knots

The following description of a Russian folk-tale was first presented in English by William Ralston Shedden Ralston in 1873:

The Baba Yaga generally kills people in order to eat them. Her house is fenced about with the bones of the men whose flesh she has devoured; in one story she offers a human arm, by way of a meal, to a girl who visits her. But she is also represented in one of the stories as petrifying her victims. This trait connects her with Medusa, and the three sister Baba Yagas with the three Gorgones. The Russian Gorgo's method of petrifaction is singular. In the story referred to, Ivan Dévich (Ivan the servantmaid's son) meets a Baba Yaga, who plucks one of her hairs, gives it to him, and says, “Tie three knots and then blow. He does so, and both he and his horse turn into stone. The Baba Yaga places them in her mortar, pounds them to bits, and buries their remains under a stone. A little later comes Ivan Dévich's comrade, Prince Ivan. Him also the Yaga attempts to destroy, but he feigns ignorance, and persuades her to show him how to tie knots and to blow. The result is that she becomes petrified herself. Prince Ivan puts her in her own mortar, and proceeds to pound her therein, until she tells him where the fragments of his comrade are, and what he must do to restore them to life.

This tale was translated from the Russian folk and fairy tales collection of A.A. Erlenvein, Narodnuiya Skazki, etc. [Popular Tales, collected by village schoolmasters in the Government of Tula], published in 1863.

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