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Domovoi

by Cyril Korolev
In Russian folklore a domovoy is a household spirit, also called "the grandfather" and "the master". He looks like a tiny old man whose face is covered with white fur, or as a double of the head of a house. There is a legend on the origin of the domovye (plural): when the evil host had been thrown out of the sky, some malicious spirits fell into human habitats. Living near the mortals those spirits became soft and friendly in time so to say, transformed into a kind of mischievous helpers.

There is a domovoy in each house, and he watch not only the house itself but all the inhabitants as well (obviously, today we should say that there is a domovoy in each apartment). This spirit is a big trickster and mischief-maker: he tickles sleeping people, squalls, knocks on the wall, throws pans and plates just for the sake of nothing. He is on good terms with the domovye of the houses next-door to his own until they start pilfering; then he gets up to protect the house and the property.

There are two kinds of the domovye a domovoy who lives in a house and a dvorovoy who lives in a courtyard (now people can meet a dvorovoy only in the country). A domovoy is a shapeshifter and could take a shape of various animals -a cat or a dog, a snake or a rat.

A domovoy is fond of those people who live in the full consent, and take good care of their property. But he does not like lazy-bones and trollops and tries to hurt and harm them in every way.

To secure himself from tricks and anger of a domovoy, a man should present this spirit some gift.

Russian domovoy resembles in many ways the Scottish brownie. It was represented as an elongated carved wooden statue.

The belief in the pagan gods of nature never quite died out even after Russians embraced Christianity. This created the condition of dvoeverie or duality of belief. The new Christian protector of hearth and home, St. Paraskeva, acquired some of the appearance as well as the function of the domovoi -- the very pagan figure she was replacing.


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    Domovoy

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