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A rusalka (Russian: руса́лка, translit. rusálka; Polish: rusałka) is a water nymph,[1][unreliable source?] a female spirit in Slavic mythology
Slavic mythology
and folklore. The term is sometimes translated from Bulgarian, Belarusian, Russian and Ukrainian as "mermaid"[citation needed].

Contents

1 Origin and appearance 2 Variations

2.1 Region-specific

3 Rusalka
Rusalka
Week 4 In literature, music and media 5 In popular culture 6 See also 7 References 8 Further reading 9 External links

Origin and appearance[edit] According to Vladimir Propp, the original "rusalka" was an appellation used by Pagan
Pagan
Slavic tribes, who linked them with fertility and did not consider rusalki evil before the nineteenth century. They came out of the water in the spring to transfer life-giving moisture to the fields and thus helped nurture the crops.[2][3] In nineteenth century versions, a rusalka is an unquiet, dangerous being who is no longer alive, associated with the unclean spirit. According to Dmitry Zelenin,[4] young women, who either committed suicide by drowning due to an unhappy marriage (they might have been jilted by their lovers or abused and harassed by their much older husbands) or who were violently drowned against their will (especially after becoming pregnant with unwanted children), must live out their designated time on earth as rusalki. However, the initial Slavic lore suggests that not all rusalki occurrences were linked with death from water.[3] It is accounted by most stories that the soul of a young woman who had died in or near a river or a lake would come back to haunt that waterway. This undead rusalka is not invariably malevolent, and would be allowed to die in peace if her death is avenged. Her main purpose is, however, to lure young men, seduced by either her looks or her voice, into the depths of said waterways where she would entangle their feet with her long red hair and submerge them. Her body would instantly become very slippery and not allow the victim to cling on to her body in order to reach the surface. She would then wait until the victim had drowned, or, on some occasions, tickle them to death, as she laughed.[5] It is also believed, by a few accounts, that rusalki can change their appearance to match the tastes of men they are about to seduce, although a rusalka is generally considered to represent universal beauty, therefore is highly feared yet respected in Slavic culture. Variations[edit]

Rusalka
Rusalka
by Ivan Bilibin, 1934

While lore often says that the rusalki could not completely stand out of water, some fiction works tell of rusalki that could climb trees and sing songs, sit on docks with only submerged feet and comb their hair, or even join other rusalki in circle dances in the field. A particular feature of such stories revolves around the fact that this behaviour would be limited to only certain periods of the year, usually the summer (see Rusalka
Rusalka
Week section). Region-specific[edit] Specifics pertaining to rusalki differed among regions. Although in most tales they lived without men, in Ukraine
Ukraine
they were often linked with water (in Belarus
Belarus
they were linked with the forest and field). Where land was fertile, the maidens appeared naked and beautiful. In harsher areas of Russia, they appeared as "large breasted amazons".[6] Rusalka
Rusalka
Week[edit]

Frolicking Rusalki by Marek Hapon

Main article: Green week The rusalki were believed to be at their most dangerous during the Rusalka
Rusalka
Week (Rusalnaya nedelja) in early June. At this time, they were supposed to have left their watery depths in order to swing on branches of birch and willow trees by night. Swimming during this week was strictly forbidden, lest mermaids would drag a swimmer down to the river floor. A common feature of the celebration of Rusalnaya was the ritual banishment or burial of the rusalki at the end of the week, which remained as entertainment in Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine
Ukraine
until the 1930s.[7] In literature, music and media[edit]

1829 – "Rusalka" is a short story of Orest Somov (translated into English and published in 2016[8]). 1831 – "Rusalka" is a poem by Mikhail Lermontov. 1856 – Rusalka
Rusalka
is an opera by Alexander Dargomyzhsky. 1895 – Roussalka is an unfinished opera by Henri Duparc. 1901 – Rusalka
Rusalka
is an opera by Antonín Dvořák. 1908 – Su Anasy (tat. Су анасы; literary Water Mother, in Russian translation Vodyanaya) is a poem by Tatar
Tatar
poet Ğabdulla Tuqay. 1943 – Nikolai Medtner's Third Piano Concerto is based on Mikhail Lermontov's ballad. 1989 – Rusalka, a fantasy novel, part of The Rusalka
Rusalka
trilogy of novels by C. J. Cherryh
C. J. Cherryh
features and revolves around a rusalka named Eveshka. 1996 – a short film directed by Aleksandr Petrov, shown in Petrov's Paint-on-glass animation
Paint-on-glass animation
technique 2005 – The Rusalka
Rusalka
Cycle: Songs Between the Worlds is a performance piece and CD by the California-based women's vocal group Kitka.[9] 2013 – "Fatima Rusalka", a single by alternative metal band Alesana. 2016 – "The Book of Speculation: A Novel", Erika Swyler's debut, features rusalka characters in traveling circuses 2018 - "Rusalka, Rusalka
Rusalka
/ Wild Rushes", a song by The Decemberists

In popular culture[edit]

1993 – Quest for Glory: Shadows of Darkness, which draws upon Slavic mythology, features a Rusalka; Paladin characters have the option to avenge her murder and let her move on to the afterlife. 2006 – A cycle of creatures in the trading card game, Magic: the Gathering called Rusalka
Rusalka
are printed in the Guildpact expansion. 2008 – In the video game Devil May Cry 4
Devil May Cry 4
a demon called Ba'el has two angler fish-like glowing feelers called Rusalka, they are used to entice human prey and resemble young, nubile women. 2008 – In the video game Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia Rusalka appears as the fifth boss, shown as an aquatic demon. 2010 – Rusalka
Rusalka
is the name of a number station transmission ship in the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops 2012 – Rusalka
Rusalka
is the name of a water nymph-like boss fought in the Nintendo 3DS
Nintendo 3DS
video game Bravely Default. 2013 - Ruslakas appear as monsters in the action role-playing video game The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing 2015 – "The Rusalka" is the name of episode three in season two of the television series Madam Secretary. 2015 – Rusalka
Rusalka
is the name of a number of beings in the Playstation 4 video game Axiom Verge. In in-game dialogue, one rusalka translates this designation as a "water machine".

See also[edit]

Kelpie Mavka
Mavka
(Nav') Nixie Ondine Selkie Sihuanaba Siren

References[edit]

^ Vladimir E. Alexandrov (22 May 2014). The Garland Companion to Vladimir Nabokov. Routledge. p. 597. ISBN 978-1-136-60157-6. Retrieved 12 July 2015.  ^ Linda J. Ivanits (15 February 1989). Russian Folk Belief. M.E. Sharpe. pp. 78–81. ISBN 978-0-7656-3088-9. Retrieved 12 July 2015.  ^ a b Elizabeth Wayland Barber (11 February 2013). The Dancing Goddesses: Folklore, Archaeology, and the Origins of European Dance. W. W. Norton. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-393-08921-9. Retrieved 12 July 2015.  ^ Zelenin, D.K, cited in Ivanits, Linda J. (1992). Russian Folk Belief. M.E. Sharpe. p. 76. ISBN 0765630885.  ^ "Rusalka". Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies. University of Toronto Press. Retrieved 12 July 2015.  ^ Joanna Hubbs (22 September 1993). Mother Russia: The Feminine Myth in Russian Culture. Indiana University Press. p. 29. ISBN 0-253-11578-7. Retrieved 12 July 2015.  ^ Ivanits, Linda, Russian Folk Belief, p. 80. ^ Somov, O 2016, The Witches of Kyiv and other Gothic Tales, Sova Books, Sydney ^ http://www.kitka.org/shop/the-rusalka-cycle-songs-between-the-worlds-cd

Further reading[edit]

Hilton, Alison. Russian folk art. Indiana University Press, 1995. ISBN 0-253-32753-9. Д.К. Зеленин. Очерки русской мифологии: Умершие неестественною смертью и русалки. Москва: Индрик. 1995.

External links[edit]

Media related to Rusalka
Rusalka
at Wikimedia Commons

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Fairies in culture

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Fairies in folklore

Northern Europe

Alp Luachra Anjana Aos Sidhe Arkan Sonney Asrai Banshee Barghest Bean nighe Billy Blind Biróg Bloody Bones Bluecap Bodach Boggart Bogle Brag Brownie Bucca Buggane Bugul Noz Caoineag Cat sìth Cù Sìth Ceffyl Dŵr Clurichaun Coblynau Cyhyraeth Drow Duende Duergar Dullahan Dwarf Each-uisge Elf Enchanted Moura Fear dearg Fear gorta Fenodyree Finfolk Fuath Gancanagh Ghillie Dhu Glaistig Glashtyn Gnome Goblin Green Man Gremlin Grindylow Gwyllion Gwyn ap Nudd Habetrot Haltija The Hedley Kow Heinzelmännchen Hob Hobgoblin Hödekin Hulder Iannic-ann-ôd Imp Jack-o'-lantern Jack o' the bowl Jenny Greenteeth Joan the Wad Joint-eater Kabouter Kelpie Kilmoulis Klabautermann Knocker Knucker Kobold Korrigan Leanan sídhe Leprechaun Lorelei Lubber fiend Ly Erg Mare Melusine Mermaid Merrow Mooinjer veggey Morgen Nain Rouge Näkki Nicnevin Nix Ogre Peg Powler Pixie Púca/Pwca Puck Radande Redcap Selkie Seonaidh Shellycoat Sluagh Spriggan Sprite/Water sprite Sylph Tomte Tooth fairy Troll Tuatha Dé Danann Tylwyth Teg Undine Water horse Wight Will-o'-the-wisp Wirry-cow Yan-gant-y-tan Xana

Fairy-like beings in folklore

Africa

Abatwa Asanbosam Aziza Bultungin Jengu Kishi Mami Wata Obayifo Rompo Tikoloshe Yumboes

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Bunyip Manaia Mimis Muldjewangk Patupaiarehe Taniwha Tipua Wandjina Yara-ma-yha-who Yowie

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Texts

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See also Portal Category List of beings referred to as fairies

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Slavic mythology

Deities

Dažbog Belobog1 Chernobog Devana1 Hors Kresnik Jarilo Mat Zemlya Lada1 Marzanna Mokosh Perun Porenut Porewit Radegast1 Rod2 Rugiewit Stribog Svarog1 Svetovid Triglav Veles Zaria Živa

Legendary heroes

Alyosha Popovich Burislav Damned Jerina Dobrynya Nikitich Ilya Muromets Ivan Kosančić Ivan Tsarevich Kyi, Shchek and Khoryv Lech, Czech, and Rus Libuše Mikula Selyaninovich Mila Gojsalić Milan Toplica Miloš Obilić Nikita the Tanner Popiel Prince Marko Sadko Solovey-Razboynik Svyatogor Vasilisa the Beautiful Volga Svyatoslavich

Unquiet dead

Vila Drekavac Kikimora Mavka Rusalka Upyr

Spirits of place

Bannik Bagiennik Domovoi Dvorovoi Lady Midday Leshy Ovinnik Polevik Vodyanoy Shubin

Mythical creatures

Ala Alkonost Baba Yaga Baš Čelik Bauk Berehynia Bies Black Arab Blud Boginki Bukavac Cikavac Chort Dola Dukljan Fern flower-Chervona Ruta Firebird Gamayun Ispolin Karzełek Koschei Krsnik Likho Likhoradka Nav' Nocnitsa Psoglav Raróg Raskovnik Samodiva Simargl Sirin Shishiga Skrzak Stuhać Sudice Tintilinić Topielec Ved Vesna Zduhać Zmey

Ritual characters

Baba Marta German Dodola Koliada Kupala Marzanna Maslenitsa Jarilo

Mythological places

Kingdom of Opona Buyan Vyraj Kitezh Lukomorye

Related topics

Book of Veles Films based on Slavic mythology Polish folk beliefs Russian traditions and superstitions Ukrainian folklore Serbian folk astronomy Slavic fairies Slavic fantasy Bogatyr Volkhv

Notes: 1 historicity of the deity is dubious; 2 the deity status

.