Baba Yaga (Баба Яга). Fairy tale witch in her element: a flying mortar and pestle with broom. Gzhel backstamp, 3⅜". 1 only, as shown.
The history of this mainstay of Russian folklore is convoluted, to say the list. Earliest literary references to her occur in the 1750s. She operates alone, or as part of three sisters all with the same name. Her flying apparatus is a mortar, which pestle is the rudder. Her dwelling is deep in a dark forest in a hut on chicken legs (!) which can move about to give her a clear vision of who, or what, is approaching. Her motives can be helpful and considerate or hindering. Baba means "old woman", a shortening of "babushka" while Yaga can mean "snake" or "anger" in various Slavic languages. All depictions of her are, to say the least, very unflattering and emphasize her boniness and her large nose. She figures prominently in the story of Vasilisa the Fair, The Maiden Tsar, and others. Her image has been celebrated by many artists, the most famous being Ivan Bilibin.