Vasilisa the Beautiful at the Hut of Baba Yaga, by Ivan Bilibin

(Russian: Василиса), also known as Vasilisa the Wise, Vasilisa the Beautiful, Princess Vasilisa and the Frog Tsarevena, is a stock character that appears in multiple Russian Fairy Tales. She normally takes the role of a beautiful maiden or princess, persecuted by a wicked stepmother or villain (such as Koschei the Deathless and the Sea King), and sometimes rescued or fallen in love with a handsome prince or the hero of the story.

Fairy talesEdit

Vasilisa the BeautifulEdit

As a child, Vasilisa the Beautiful  is given a magical wooden doll by her mother before she passes away. Her father then remarries a woman who has two daughters of her own and constantly mistreats Vasilisa. In an effort to get rid of the stepchild, the wicked stepmother sends Vasilisa to the home of Baba Yaga to fetch a light. Vasilisa sees many wonderful things on her way and, upon meeting Baba Yaga, is set to do many household chores, some of which she cannot complete in the alotted time. Her magical wooden doll completes the tasks for her, and Baba Yaga is forced to set Vasilisa free, giving her a skull-lantern to light her way home. When she arrives home, the lantern burns Vasilisa's stepmother and stepsisters to ashes, freeing her from their torment so she can live happily with her father.

The Frog PrincessEdit

When prince Ivan Tsarevich and his two older brothers shoot arrows in different directions in their kingdom, they must marry whomever finds the arrows. The two older brothers marry wealthy noblemens' daughters, while Ivan's arrow lands in the mouth of a frog. The three brides-to-be are tasked with tests to determine their skills as cooks and weavers, and the frog far outdoes the two noblemens' daughters. The final task is to attend a banquet at night, where Ivan discovers the frog is really a princess named Vasilisa the Wise, who sheds her frogskin every night, but is cursed into the form of a frog every day.

To remove the curse, Ivan burns her shed frogskin, but this causes Vasilisa to return to her imprisonment at the hands of Koschei the Deathless who originally cursed her (if Ivan had waited 3 years, the curse would've been lifted). With the help of Baba Yaga, Ivan finds Koschei's soul within a needle, within an egg, within a duck, within a hare, within an iron chest, buried under a green oaktree, on the magical island Buyan, and he breaks the needle to kill the immortal sorcerer and free Vasilisa so they can marry and live happily ever after.

Vasilisa the Priest's DaughterEdit

A daughter of a priest wore men's clothing, rode horses, and could fire a gun. One day the king saw this "young man", but his servants insisted that the "young man" was in fact a girl. The king did not believe the servants; he wrote to the priest asking him if his "son" could have dinner with him. The priest sent his daughter to the king’s home. Before she arrived, the king sought advice from the witch regarding the true identity of the "young man". The witch advised the king to do many different things to test if Vasilisa is a girl or not, such as place an embroidery frame and a gun positioned on a wall and to see which object she will notice first. If she is a girl she will notice the frame first, and vice versa. The "young man" passed every test, but the king remained doubtful. The king tries several times to find the true identity, but on the last time the king asked the "young man" to take a bath with him, and the "young man" agreed. While the king undressed, the "young man" undressed, bathed quickly and fled, leaving a note for the king saying:

"Ah King Barkhat, raven that you are, you could not surprise the falcon in the garden! For I am not Vasily Vasilyevich, but Vasilisa Vasilyevna" (Afanas’ev 133).

The Sea King and Vasilisa the WiseEdit

A Tsar King finds an eagle injured in his garden and nurses it back to health. In return, the eagle flies him to three kingdoms in the sky, the first two owned by his sisters and their husbands, and the final one owned by him and his wife and mother. At the first two kingdoms, he is given an extravagant casket, and at the third, he is given a plain casket but warned never to trade it away.

On his sail home, the Tsar King gets lost and is found by the Sea King. The Sea King agrees to help the Tsar King home in exchange for one of the caskets, and the Tsar gives him the plain one. However, the plain casket contains the soul of his son, Ivan Tsarevich. When the prince is old enough, the Sea King sends for him, and he travels to the Sea King's underwater kingdom where he is tasked with impossible jobs. Each time he is aided by the Sea King's youngest daughter, Vasilisa the Wise, whom he falls in love with. The two escape the underwater kingdom to return to Ivan Tsarevich's homeland, but are pursued by the Sea King's huntsmen.

Ivan and Vasilisa evade the huntsmen multiple times before the Sea King pursues them himself. To escape them, Ivan calls upon the eagle and his family who are still loyal to the Tsar King, and they fly them away from the Sea King's clutches.

The Firebird and Princess VasilisaEdit

A royal huntsman finds the feather of a Firebird and, against the wishes of his horse, shows it to the King. The King demands he retrieve the Firebird, and under the advice of the horse, manages to capture the legendary creature. For achieving this, the King tasks the huntsman with bringing him Princess Vasilisa. Once again, with the advice of his horse, the huntsman catches his prey.

Vasilisa refuses to marry without her wedding gown, located at the bottom of the sea. The huntsman's horse gains the aid of crabs to retrieve the dress. Vasilisa then demands that the huntsman bathes in boiling water. With his body charmed by his horse, the huntsman bathes and became handsome. The King does the same (without the aid of the horse) and dies. The people took the huntsman as king instead, and he married the princess.

See alsoEdit

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