In the 19th century, scholars of Slavic folklore traveled to villages and towns to record the incredible tales and legends that were orally transmitted to the province of Ivan and Kashchei in Russia.
The greatest contribution was made by Alexander Afanasiev (1826-1871), who managed to collect a huge set of materials despite the persecution of the so-called “primitive culture”.
The character Kaschey the Immortal, like Baba Yaga, is described as a negative character, the personification of evil. According to the legend, it had a skinny appearance (supposedly “mush” means “malnourished”), and this skeleton-like figure had the unfortunate habit of stealing young girls, abducting them for their entertainment.
One of the most popular tales is about the abducted Ivan.
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The legendary Kashchei figure depicts a very interesting creature. His soul, according to some versions, is kept in a needle placed in an egg; the egg is in the duck, the duck in the rabbit; the rabbit is enclosed in an iron crate and the crate is hidden in an oak growing on a lonely island.
All of these conventions are great protection, because if the rabbit is torn, the bird will fly out. It was said that if the egg were broken in Kaschey’s head, he would die, and according to other sources, if his body were burned, it would be his end.
In popular fairy tales Ivan is the type of handsome, young, strong character who pays for his curiosity and kindness.
Mara Marevna is a strong warrior, an atypical female figure, who with her sword kills enemies and deals justice.
Kashchey and Ivan
There lived a young and handsome prince named Ivan. Once, as he rode his horse in the field, he fell into place, all littered with corpses after battle. When he was interrogated, he realized that it was the army of the Kachey the Immortal, defeated by the warlike queen, Mary Marena, and he himself – captured by the queen. Soon, Ivan met the Queen herself. They loved each other, appreciated and lived in the palace of Mary Marena. In due course the queen would have to go to war again. As she left, she showed Ivan a locked closet and ordered him never to open it.
After Maria Marevna left, curiosity tormented Ivan – what’s in the closet. He found the keys and opened it. Inside, a withered old man in chains appeared. The old man asked him for water, Ivan pitied him and gave him a drink. When he was satisfied, the old man broke the chains and fled the palace, taking Ivan with him.
As soon as Maria Marevna realized what had happened, she rushed to save her husband, but Kashchey waited for her and cut her to pieces.
Maria’s falcon, raven, and eagle brought and sprayed her carved body with live water and revived it.
Meanwhile, Kashchey left the captive Ivan with his fast as a lightning stallion.
Maria Marevna knew that only with Baba Yaga could she find a horse – fast enough to catch Kaschey. The witch gave her a stallion, which barely stood on its own feet, but when Maria rode it, it miraculously turned into a beautiful horse, which soon caught up with the kidnapper. When Ivan was released, Maria Marevna rushed to chase Kaschey. They rode through the woods until Kashchey’s horse stumbled into a stone and threw him to the ground. Maria Marevna quickly turned around, pulled out her sword, stabbed Kaschey and finally burned him. Then Ivan and I returned to the palace and lived peacefully and happily.
The Charachter from History
It is believed that the person behind the inspiration for the Immortal Kaschey is from kuman * leader khan Konchak, who dates from the 12th century. In the story of the Igor campaign he is referred to as a basket (slave).
There is not much recorded for Khan Konchak except that he has returned to the Caucasus.
He is described as unusually attached to gold and a keeper of Kosh’s resources.
It was last recorded in the Russian Chronicles in 1203, and if the record is correct, makes him over 100 years old.
He is believed to have been demonized in folk tales because of his pagan origins and confrontation with Slavic Christianity of that time.
Kaschey is also recorded as: Kaschey. Koshchay, Kashei, Koshway, Kosh, Kash, Kashel, Kostzei, Kashui, Goat, Koz’olok, Korachun, Korachun the Immortal, Kott the Immortal, Kostil the Souless.
* Kumans – a Turkic-speaking nomadic nation that raids Bulgaria and later settles and is assimilated. The Cumans have a significant role in the restoration and rise of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. It is even thought that the Asenevtsi, Terterivtsi and Shishmanovtsi are of Kuman origin.
The Balkan village of Kumanite is also located in Bulgaria. Robert de Clary in “Description of the IV Crusade” describes: “… This is a wild tribe that neither plows nor sows nor houses or houses. They have flat tents – housing. They dress in sheepskin… they never cease to wander day and night…. ”