Russian folk tale Fire-bird

Russian folk tale Fire-bird
The Fire Bird by Maria Alexandrova. Russian folk tale Fire-bird

Russian folk tale Fire-bird

Firebird is a fantastic bird, the character of Russian fairy tales. Feathers of firebird have the ability to shine and its brilliance hit a person’s vision. Firebird is a fiery bird, its feathers shine silver and gold, its wings as flames, and its eyes shine like crystals. In size it reaches a peacock. Firebird lives in the Garden of Eden in Iria, in a golden cage. At night it leaves the cage for the garden and illuminates it as bright as thousands of lighted lamps.

Russian tale Fire-bird
Painting Russian folk tale Fire-bird

To catch Firebird is one of the main tasks that a fairy tale king (father) sets for his sons. To get Firebird manages only the youngest son. Mythology (Afanasiev) explained the Firebird as the personification of fire, light, sun. Firebird powers golden apples that give youth, beauty and immortality; when it sings pearls are pouring from its beak.

Singing Firebird heals the sick and gives sight to the blind. Leaving aside the arbitrary mythological explanations firebird can be compared with medieval, very popular in Russian and Western literature stories about a phoenix, rising from the ashes. The prototype of the Firebird is a peacock. Rejuvenating apples, in turn, can be compared with the fruits of pomegranate, a favorite delicacy of the Phoenix.

Every year, in the fall, Firebird dies and is reborn in the spring. Sometimes you can find dropped out of the tail feather of the Firebird. Over time, this feather turns into gold.

To catch the Firebird used a golden cage with apples inside, like a trap. Catch it with your bare hands is impossible, because you can get burned.

In 2009, Fire-bird became a symbol of the Eurovision Song Contest 2009, held in Moscow.

Straw art. Fire-bird by Irina
Straw art. Fire-bird by Irina

Russian tale Fire-bird

In a far away land a thief was stealing golden apples which had the power of bestowing youth and beauty from Tsar Berendey`s magic Garden. The guards of the Tsar were unable to stop this, for as hard as they tried, the thief always got away. None of the guards could even see this thief. The Tsar was frustrated for he needed the golden apples for himself, as he was married to a very beautiful young Queen.

The only person who spotted the thief was the Tsar’s son, Prince Ivan Tsarevich. As the night came upon the Garden, the young Tsarevich hid under a water bucket and listened closely to every sound around him. At dawn, the Prince almost fell asleep, but the silence was broken by a magical being. The Prince pulled the water bucket up slightly so he could just see through the thin opening. And there it was; The Fire Bird.

In the depth of night the Fire Bird would fly into the garden with its feathers blazing with a silvery of golden sheen. Its eyes were shining like crystals and would light the place as brightly as a thousand burning fires. The Tsarevich crawled up to the unsuspecting bird, and rushed to grab it by the tail.

The Fire Bird by Ekaterina Kondaurova
Ekaterina Kondaurova performing as a firebird

The next day Prince Ivan told his father the old Tsar, about the Fire Bird. He showed his father the only feather he had managed to get from the Bird’s tail. As the Bird was too smart and flew away. From that day on the Tsar was obsessed with the idea of capturing the Fire Bird for himself. In order to find the Bird he sent his three sons on a journey to another Kingdom.

Ivan Tsarevich’s adventure begins when after a long day’s ride he falls asleep, only to awake in the morning and find his horse gone. Wondering through the woods he meets a gray wolf who confesses that he ate the horse. Grateful that Ivan had spared his life, Gray Wolf offers to let Ivan ride on his back. Grey Wolf takes Ivan to Tsar Afron’s kingdom, where the Fire Bird is kept in a golden cage inside the Tsar’s walled garden.

The Prince warned by the Gray Wolf to take only the bird, and not the cage, takes the cage as well and triggers an alarm. Captured by Tsar Afron, he is told that in order to have the Fire Bird he must pay for it with the Horse of the Golden Mane, which is in possession of Tsar Kusman.

The Gray Wolf carries Ivan to Kusman’s palace and advises him to acquire the horse but not the bridle. Once again the Prince is tempted by the gold and diamonds in the bridle, so he ignores the advice. He again becomes captured by Kusman, who now says he will only give him the horse in exchange for the fair Princess Elena, who was residing with Tsar Dalmat.

This time the wolf does the work himself and seizes Elena. He brings her back to Ivan and the Prince falls in love with her. The wolf offers to trick Kusman by assuming Elena’s shape and also to trick Afron too by assuming the form of the horse.

firebird. Artist Juliana Sokolskaya
Artist Juliana Sokolskaya. The Firebird ballet

Ivan returns, with Elena, the horse and the Fire Bird, however when the wolf leaves him he is ambushed and killed by his brothers.

The wolf then returns and revives him with the Waters of Life and Death, the brothers are banished, and Ivan Tsarevich meets Tsar Berendey to tell his tragic story. When the Tsar’s grief fades, the Prince marries Elena the Fair and they lived happily ever after.

Russian folk tale Fire-bird