A Russian Tale, Natasha is sent deep into the forest to face the witch Baba Yaga.Themes of Kindness and Friendship.
n Russian folk lore, stories abound of the witch Baba Yaga. Once in a while, Baba Yaga is portrayed as kindly, but the norm is that Baba Yaga is the essence of wickedness. She has iron teeth for eating children when she can get them (Russian parents tell their children that Baba Yaga eats only children who misbehave). Her mode of transportation, the giant mortar that she beats with a pestle to go faster, is a classic element in Baba Yaga stories. Another motif is her hut, which as described in the Baba Yaga story presented here, stands on hen's legs and can move about at whim.
Though Baba Yaga is uniquely Russian, elements of the Baba Yaga stories can be recognized in folklore from other parts of the world. A Spanish story "Don Octavio" tells of a boy who, when chased by a human flesh-eating giant, throws a comb onto the ground and the comb becomes a mountain, and then the boy drops a pin to the ground and the pin becomes a dense underbrush of thorns. There is also a story from the Philippines called "Pedro and the Witch," wherein a boy named Pedro escapes from the witch Boroka by dropping a kerchief and the kerchief becomes a large fire, and then the boy drops a white handkerchief and the white handkerchief becomes a wide sea.