-You live in the
United States ten months in a year. What do
you miss most about Russia?
- It used
to be difficult, my parents did not visit
that much. And now I’m comfortable, all who are
close and dear to me often visit Pittsburgh. I don’t worry about food, I’m not
fussy. What I miss the most is the Russian banya (sauna). Whenever I arrive in Moscow, I immediately go to
“Sanduny”. I like to hang out with
friends, sometimes in nightclubs too. You get tired of a year of matches and flights across the America, so you need some
time to relax.
here is me, and my matespri7, 6anyas, he is 7he one who 7ook 7he pic7ure and he wan7ed 7o do i7 sideways 6ecause he liked i7 more 7his way. 7o ge7 7he camera 7o 7ake 7he pic7ure of us we poin7ed i7 7o a mirror, and 7he reflec7on was cau7 by 7he camera in 7his way. usually 6anyas does no7 like 7o wear a shir7 bu7 he is wearing one in 7his pic7ure 6ecause he was cold, since he was feeling sick a7 7he 7ime.
In The Tailor, Genya speaks with the Darkling just after he has emerged from the banya on the grounds of the Little Palace. She notes the presence of a few oprichniki standing guard in the area. The oprichniki are the Darkling’s personal guards, so originally, I didn’t think much of it. But the other day, I asked myself, where else do we see the oprichniki? While the Darkling is traveling in potentially hostile territory: makes sense. There are guards stationed outside his quarters. Again, makes sense. Keep people out of his personal rooms, guard the doors while he’s asleep, don’t let people just barge right in to the war room, and so forth.
But I don’t think we see mention of any of them trailing him around the grounds of the Little Palace though, do we? Yet there are “a few” outside the banya.
As far as I’m aware, the traditional Russian banya involves a distinct lack of clothing.
So, I’ve decided the oprichnikis’ purpose in hanging out around the banya during the Darkling’s employment thereof is to (1) run everyone else out first and (2) ensure no Grisha, students, all and sundry sneak back in to accidentally-on-purpose catch a glimpse.
I wonder if there were any prior ‘incidents’ that resulted in installed oprichniki.
My apologies to anyone who thought this was going to be a serious post:D
Russian Folklore Part 2: Domovoi, Leshy, Vodyanoi, Bannik
believed that the world is full of spirits which live next to people, but can
be very rarely seen by them. Usually, they were malicious creatures, but still
they could help human beings and even protect them in dramatic situations. The
spirits inhabited forests, lakes, fields and even houses, and if a person
didn’t show respect or didn’t gain their favor by giving some things, they
could get really angry, destroy the dwelling, kill the cattle or even murder
him or her.
is a protective house spirit in Slavic folklore.
every house is said to have its own domovoi who lives either in the stove,
under the threshold, in the cattle shed, or in the stables. The center of the
house is also said to be their domain. The domovoi is seen as the home’s
guardian, and if he is kept happy he maintains peace and order and rewards the
household by helping with household chores and field work. To stay in his good
graces, his family leaves him gifts such as milk, porridge, tobacco, bread, and
the family decided to move to a new place, they always asked the spirit to
follow them. To make this transportation comfortable for the spirit, they
offered him an old boot, where he could hide and thus come to a new house
without any trouble.
it may appear, I have encountered a domovoi who lived in my relatives`s house.
The house was old, ramshackle and rusty, so the family decided to move and
started packing. The domovoi probably got angry and produced so much noise at
night it was impossible to fall asleep, so they tried to propitiate him with
milk and sweets and put a valenok (валенок – felt boot) near the the front door so the domovoi
could hide there and be taken to a new place with. Believe me or not – it
worked, the noise has stopped.
Leshy (ле́ший) is the spirit of the
woodlands in Slavic folklore. It is a spirit who enjoys playing tricks on
people, though when angered he can be treacherous. He is seldom seen, but his
voice can be heard in the forest laughing, whistling, or singing.
had great respect for forests, mountains and water. A leshy was something like
the master of the forest. It was everywhere in the forest and did not like when
someone entered into his dominion, but it never left the forest. If a human
spied a leshy in the forest, it was most likely that he had lost his way. Folk
tales told that to find his path again, he had to turn all his clothing
Vodyanoi (водяной) is widely featured in folklore,
because Russia is a country of rivers, lakes and seas, which were the main
trade routes in times gone by. The cult of the vodyanoi was stronger in the
northern part of Russia, close to the White Sea.
of communication with a vodyanoi are simple. At night, any interactions with
rivers and lakes were forbidden – be it fetching water, crossing or fishing. As
for swimming, it was outlawed on big holidays, when many people were drunk; and
it’s totally wrong to brag of your swimming skills and endurance at all times –
the vodyanoi likes boasters most of all.
kill those who drown; he takes them to his realm to serve him forever.
That is why victims of drowning were not buried at
Orthodox cemeteries – it might upset vodyanoi and cause drought or hail.
Bannik (банник) is the bathhouse (banya) spirit in
Slavic mythology. Do you remember my post about banya? There it is.
was seen as a potentially unclean and dangerous place, the bannik was perceived
as a capricious, sometimes harmful, household spirit. An angry bannik could
cause one to suffocate in the steam of the bathhouse or simply set banya on
fire; women who bathed alone ran the risk of being spied on by the bannik as
they undressed. As a result, Slavic peasants did not hang icons in the
banya or wear crosses into the bath; they also avoided bathing singly or at
night. When a child was born in the banya (a common occurrence), the mother
and baby were watched carefully, to prevent the bannik from carrying away the infant.
propitiate the bannik, peasants often left offerings of soap, water, and fir
branches. Like most household spirits, the bannik could tell fortunes. Girls
and young women would gather in the bathhouse to consult the bannik about the
new year by allowing him to touch them from behind. A warm, soft touch foretold
happiness; a cold, prickly touch was a warning of ill fortune.
“Have you lost your damn mind!?” Alina shrieked and swiveled on her heels to bury her face in the Darkling’s kefta.
The Darkling stared ahead, his mouth pressed in a thin line as his arms encircled her body. “Yes, my dear Lantsov King, have you indeed lost your ingenious mind?”
This was ridiculous.
Once Alina had finished her training with the Darkling, and he had offered to walk her back to her quarters in the Grand Palace, the pair hadn’t expected to walk in on Nikolai lounging on her bed in all his royal glory.
Maybe he’d stumbled into her quarters thinking they were his, since they were located within the same corridor. After the Darkling had relinquished the Ravkan crown on the Spinning Wheel, and Alina continued to wear the Lantsov emerald on her finger, they had agreed that she would be housed in the Grand Palace, away from the Darkling’s influence.
Though it actually seemed as if he had turned over a new leaf in the past year, which was why she had gradually taken a liking to training with him. It was good practice. Just in case he decided to ignite another civil war one day.
It was true that he had much blood staining his hands, but at least she’d never walked in on him in the nude.
She could practically hear the pout in Nikolai’s voice as he said, “I wasn’t expecting you to bring ol’ Darkles here. Planning on having some good fun without me?”
Alina flushed and pulled herself out of the Darkling’s embrace, but still keeping her back to Nikolai. “Are you decent?”
Nikolai sighed while she heard a faint rustling behind her. “Depends on your definition.”
She crossed her arms and turned on her heels, looking at the king with narrowed eyes. His lap was precariously covered with her deep blue coverlet while the rest of his well-toned body lay on display, and his lips were quirked in a mischievous twist. “Did you like what you saw?” he purred.
“Didn’t see much,” Alina said, earning an undignified snort behind her. She glanced over her shoulder and looked at the Darkling who had his sleeve over his mouth in a vain attempt to hide his laughter. He was still standing in the threshold and was looking off to the side, his brow arched in silent question.
Someone coughed outside, and she went red when she remembered who she and the Darkling brought as guards. He had one oprichniki with him while Alina had chosen one member of the Soldat Sol to guard her.
Tonight Mal was on duty.
“Did you hear that, tracker? Our saint believes that is small.”
She turned around, her hands on her hips as she glared at the Darkling. “Just what are you going on about?”
The Darkling smiled slowly but immediately redirected his attention over her shoulder. She heard Nikolai laugh and throw off the covers. Then she felt his arms drape over her shoulders.
Saints, is he…
Alina went rigid as he whispered in her ear, “The three of us might have… compared in the banya the other day. Turns out Darkles and I are quite sizable while our darling Malyen is–”
“Would his Majesty please be quiet?” Mal shouted from the hallway, unable to hide the panicked tremor in his voice.
Nikolai hummed and he buried his face in Alina’s hair, earning an icy glare from the Darkling who had crossed his arms and was now leaning against the wall.
Though Nikolai wasn’t done with Mal yet. “Don’t worry, Oretsev. For it isn’t the size of the boat that matters, but the motion of the ocea–”
Bannik (derived from rus. баня [banya] “bathhouse”) — is the main spirit of the bathhouse in slavic mythology. Because of bathhouse’s reputation as the place of inhabitance for the evil spirits (it was deeply connected with the most important events in human life — birth and death), bannik was traditionally seen as hostile to people. Therefore there were a lot of rituals and key-phrases, which had to be performed to please him. If anyone neglected the ritual or behave inappropriately, bannik could suffocate with carbon monoxide gas, boil alive or drown the person. However, he loved pranks and often scared people just for fun. Despite the fact that bannik clearly wasn’t a kind spirit, it was believed that in his absence bathhouse would get even more dangerous (remember, favorite place among evil creatures). That’s why in case of resettlement people respectfully asked bannik to go with them, same as they did with domovoy, the spirit of the household.
Oh, and he could turn into a cat, And pinched girls’ butts during Christmas divinations