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Baba-Yaga (Баба Яга in Russian and also translated Baba Jaga) is a witch-like character in Slavic folklore. She flies around using a giant mortar and pestle, kidnaps (and presumably eats) small children, and lives in a forest hut, which stands on chicken legs. In modern days, she is often depicted not as a villainous, but simply a sociopathic or even gentle and friendly person. And in almost any tale she knows much. The 'Baba' word can be translated as impolite 'old woman' or 'big woman' or simply 'woman' -- usually the first one is correct for this trope; while 'Yaga' is a form of a certain name, it is thought to be a corruption of Slavic root for 'hag', making 'Baba Yaga' mean something like 'old hag', or perhaps 'hag hag'. Baba Yaga is depicted as an old, knowledgeable, and geeky character with mystical servants.

She is a common antagonist in Slavic folklore, known for kidnapping and eating children (and serving as a cautionary tale for small children against wandering off or talking to strangers). Some tales alternatively revolve around characters seeking her out for her wisdom or having her offer guidance to lost souls, though they are notably less in number.

The character of Baba Yaga has made dozens of appearances in popular culture and modern works including Orson Scott Card's novel Enchantment, the Fables and Hellboy comic series, innumerable Russian cartoons and tales, Runescape, Quest for Glory, and (as "Barbara Jagger") Alan Wake. Baba Yaga is also a brand of beer from the Massachusetts-based brewery.


Associated tropes: Edit