birds of joy and sorrow

Viktor Vasnetsov painted many subjects from folklore.  “Sirin i Alkonost, Ptitsy Radosti i Pechali” (“Sirin and Alkonost, Birds of Joy and Sorrow”) depicts the Russian version of the Siren alongside an anthropomorphized kingfisher.

Fun fact: “Alkonost,” “Alcyone” (a mythical character and star), and “halcyon” all come from “halkyon,” the Ancient Greek word for “kingfisher."  In the folklore of many countries, kingfishers build their nests on a patch of water that is magically calmed by their song.

Sirin and Alkonost. Birds of joy and sorrow by Viktor Vasnetsov, 1896

Alkonost and Sirin are creatures from Slavic folklore. Alongside with Gamayun, another bird-maiden, they play a significant role in Russian mythos. Their main duty is to ward the Tree of Life. They’re commonly believed to be a fusion of Greek legends, Pagan Slavic folk tales and Christian lore.

Sirin was initially based on Greek sirens, with possible addition of traits characteristic of Slavic water spirits, in particular that of wila. However, she later assumed more positive features, becoming a symbol of harmony, joy and beauty. Sirin descends into world of mortals, singing of incoming happiness. Even in later legends her voice is enticing to the point of being dangerous to humans and Siren can be associated with treachery, insanity and temptation. As bird-maiden is sensitive to loud noises, people would save themselves from her hypnotic song by ringing bells and shooting cannons.

Alkonost is possibly named after Alcyone, a Greek demigoddess transformed into a kingfisher. Her voice possess the same bewitching capacity as that of her sister. Alkonost is typically associated with Hors, the god of sun. Sometimes called the bird of dawn, she brings winds and lightnings on her wings. It is believed that on Koliada (a holiday in the middle of winter) Alkonost lays eggs on the seashore. For seven days after that sets good weather.


ART HISTORY MEME > [1/8] mythology

A Russian folklore has found its painter in the face of Viktor Vasnetsov. He was one of the first to find his way to the past, reflect it on the canvas and he has showed it to people, making them witnesses of the fairytales.

Samolet (Carpet) (1880), Bogatyrs (1881), The Unsmiling Tsarevna (1926), Snow Maiden (1899), A Knight At the Crossroads (1878), Gamaun, The prophetic bird (1897), The Frog Tsarevna(1918), Sirin and Alkonost The Birds of Joy and Sorrow (1896), Ivan Tsarevich Riding the Grey Wolf (1889)

anonymous asked:

Hi Yves :) a little random, but - what's the name of the art piece(s) in your header? It's lovely.

Sirin and Alkonost: The Birds of Joy and Sorrow by the Russian painter Viktor Vasnetsov. 

I hope you like it as much as I do! 


 Victor Vasnetsov’s Sirin and Alkonost  or Birds of Joy and Sorrow( 1896)

The Alkonost is, according to Russian mythos and folklore, a creature with the body of a bird but the head of a beautiful woman. It makes sounds that are amazingly beautiful, and those who hear these sounds forget everything they know and want nothing more ever again.She lives in the underworld with her counterpart the sirin.The alkonost lays her eggs on a beach and then rolls them into the sea. When the alkonost’s eggs hatch, athunderstorm sets in and the sea becomes so rough that it is untravelable. The name of the alkonost came from a Greek demigoddess whose name was Alcyone. In Greek mythology, Alcyone was transformed by the gods into a kingfisher

Sirins sang beautiful songs to the saints, foretelling future joys. For mortals, however, the birds were dangerous. Men who heard them would forget everything on earth, follow them, and ultimately die. People would attempt to save themselves from Sirins by shooting cannons, ringing bells and making other loud noises to scare the bird off. Later (17-18th century), the image of Sirins changed and they started to symbolize world harmony (as they live nearparadise). People in those times believed only really happy people could hear a Sirin, while only very few could see one because she is as fast and difficult to catch as human happiness. She symbolizes eternal joy and heavenly happiness.