Sirin or the Bird of Sorrow is a magnificent but cruel bird-maiden of Russian legends. Her body of a giant bird of prey is covered in thousand midnight-coloured feathers and a set of sharp claws, big enough to crush a horse. From the chest up, she’s of human appearance and her sinister face of a beautiful woman is adorned by a golden crown or nimbus. Sirin lays her precious eggs on distant seashores before casting them into the waves. When the eggs hatch, a thunderstorm sets over the oceans till they become so rough that no soul can travel across. She is a death-bringer. Her honey-tongued singing voice stupefies mortals, making them forget everything they had ever known in this world and announces their imminent death. People would attempt to save themselves from Sirin by shooting cannons, ringing bells and covering their ears but to no avail. Her terrifying smirk is the last thing they see before she plunges down at them with her claws and carries them away to the realm of death called Nav where she forever resides with her brighter counterpart Alkonost, her beloved sister otherwise known as the Bird of Joy.
Sirin and Alkonost - bird-maidens of ancient legends and tales.
They are mentioned in the Russian chronicles, and the images of the thumbnails have been preserved in ancient manuscripts, in the jewellery of Kievan Rus (a loose federation of East Slavic tribes in Europe from the late 9th to the mid-13th century, under the reign of the Rurik dynasty. Today it’s known as the First eastern Slavic state.) and in the thread of white stone cathedrals from Kiev to Vladimir-Suzdal.
“Here the repellent harpies make their nests,
Who drove the Trojans from the Strophades
With dire announcements of the coming woe.
They have broad wings, a human neck and face,
Clawed feet and swollen, feathered bellies; they caw
Their lamentations in the eerie trees” - Dante Alighieri
A little public service announcement today, because it’s something I wish was said more often. Growing up, it’s all you hear. What do you want to be? A doctor? A lawyer? An actor? A scientist? When people ask you “The Question,” you’re supposed to have one of these nice and tidy little labels to encapsulate yourself. Your job is the end-goal of your existence, is supposed to be your very identity.
No one really takes the time to ask, how do you want to live your life? What values are important to you, that you want to uphold? What kind of lifestyle do you want? What sort of adventures do you want to go on? And what kind of job will nurture those values, and help you achieve those dreams? When you make your own personal happiness the end-goal, rather than the job, the world takes on a very, very different light…
SirinandAlkonost — Paradise songbirds in slavic culture. The Sirin is commonly depicted as a bird-like creature with uncovered female head and breasts. According to the legends, Sirin Bird represents the souls of those people who were not taken to Heaven, and that is why her songs are always sad and full of melancholy. The Alkonost Bird, on the other hand, is traditionally shown with a rich headdress (and she also has hands, in which she usually holds flowers of music instruments). Unlike Sirin’s, Alkonost Bird’s songs are dedicated to sweet and joyful dreams of future life in Heaven. The images of two Birds are traditionally opposed to one another in folklore and fine art.
P.S. And that, my dear ladies and gentlemen, is a typical example of the parallel coexistence of traditional сhristianity and elements of pre-сhristian pagan beliefs ^^
Sirin in old Russian folklore is a big, strong maiden-bird with a stern face and a crown on her head. According to descriptions of old Russian tales and myths the sweet-voiced Sirin, stupefied travelers and carried them away to the realm of death. Nearbly Sirin the Slavs often depicted another mythical bird, Alkonost.
The Alkonost is a creature with the body of a bird but the head of a beautiful woman. In Slavic mythology it’s the bird of the Dawn; it rules the winds and weather. Alkonost is a resident of Iriy (old Slavic paradise). It makes sounds that are amazingly beautiful, and those who hear these sounds forget everything they know and want nothing more ever again.