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Who is Vodyanoy?

15. September 2009 by Gregg 0 Comments

Vodyanoy or Vodnik is a Water Monster in Russian folklore, acting as a male counterpoint for the Rusalki. Similar to the Kappa from Japanese folklore or the Wassermann from German myths, this creature resembles an old man, but covered in black scales and with webbed hands and the tail of a fish. Vodyanoy would often wear green clothes and sport a long, straggly beard.


Like the Rusalki, he would be blamed for drowning deaths in villages, as well as for the damaging of dams and mills. When the Vodyanoy would drown one of his hapless victims, he would store their soul in a porcelain jar and keep them as a treasure. Vodyanoy had a liking for tobacco and fishermen would often drop a pinch in the waters they would fish, to barter for assistance and their safety. Other times, the monster could be appeased by giving him back the first fish caught or by pouring butter into the water as fishermen, millers and beekeepers were.


Vodyanoy was a shapeshifter and was known to lure people to their deaths by assuming the form of well-known villagers or handsome strangers, then escaping capture and death by changing his appearance to that of a trout or another small fish. People were often at risk of being attacked by Vodyanoy if they were to bathe after the sun went down or if they were to enter the water without making the sign of the cross.