Koschei the Deathless [Marya Morevna]. Кощей Бессмертный [Марья Моревна]. A striking 7-piece doll from Russia from 1993. Done during the "Golden Age" of Russian dolls, when the doors and windows of glasnost and perestroika began to open, though long before commercial languor began setting in. All of the paintings were done by hand and each is richly rewarding. 7¾" down to 1¼". Fully hand painted and in almost fine condition. Signed and dated by the artist on the first doll. 1 only.
Condition note: some minor imperfections due to the quality of the materials available to artists at that time plus some ageing, though nothing terrible.
When it was time for the old Tsar to hand over his kingdom, he instructed young Prince Ivan to be sure that his sisters are properly married and well taken care of. As the years passed, Ivan, now himself Tsar, was enjoying a stroll in a garden with his three sisters when abruptly, a black cloud appeared and a wicked storm arose! Wonder of wonders, a falcon flew in and suddenly stood transformed into a handsome prince. He proposed to Ivan's sister, Maria, to which Ivan and his sister accepted, and they married shortly thereafter. The falcon carried her back to his kingdom. Stunningly, this event repeated twice more with an eagle and a raven. Ivan, now alone, set off to find his vanished sisters. He came upon a field of slain soldiers, newly defeated by the army of the beautiful Queen Maria Morevna. Long story short, they married and lived together for a time in happiness. The Queen did however find it necessary to fight a defensive battle and, leaving Ivan in charge of the kingdom, she warned him not to enter the chamber in the castle with the tallest turret. Of course, he did and discovered the giant sorcerer - Koschei the Deathless. Ivan inadvertently released him and Koschei flew out of the castle and abducted Maria Morevna. After a long and perilous journey to reclaim her and his three sisters, Ivan eventually is successful in restoring order to the kingdom.
On the last piece, the artist portrays where the power and soul of Koschei lives: hidden in a needle, inside an egg, in a duck, in a rabbit, then locked in an iron chest, which is buried under a green oak on an island. Though a mere synopsis, the tale is complex and makes for a terrific story.