Strange lights, dark forests

This image came from a storybook I had as a child. Whenever I look at it now, my heart still jumps up to my throat. In this image, Vasilisa the Beautiful, wandering through the forest, comes to the hut of Baba Yaga. The hut surrounded by strange lights, lights that emanate from the skulls of Baba Yaga’s victims. Vasilisa picks up one of these and uses it as a lantern, guiding her way as she walks on the dark path.

You can read the entire story here, complete with all of the amazing illustrations by the artist, Igor Bilibin. My other three images from the same storybook are the following three:

Taken from Old Russia, an amazing resource page of Bilibin’s Art and the stories that accompany it. Bless this person for taking the time to translate all of it.

More on Ivan Bilibin

13 Responses to “Strange lights, dark forests”

  1. Zoetica Says:

    Yes! I love Bilibin, my favorite of his work was the art of “About Tzar Saltan” and “Firebird“.

  2. Gretta Says:

    Thank you for providing me with today’s eye candy.

  3. Jerem Morrow Says:

    I encountered this after a friend told me he’d made a tarot deck using his work, after I mentioned Mike Mignola has spoken about his work. Ze deck was, indeed, homemade und bulky as all hell, as he’d literally glued printed pics on top of another deck. Um…ja, but still. Bilibin’s work is excellent.

  4. Bryan Alexander Says:

    These books are family favorites. So happy to see my children reading ’em.

  5. EPtrauma Says:

    Heh. i read this and thought of Mike Mignola too! I just read that last Hellboy story arc, now it’s super awesome to read the myths it’s based on just as it wraps up. good timing!

  6. Simon Says:

    I saw this picture a long time ago…Maybe in some of my childbooks. It’s amazing in the way details seems everywhere but the drawing keeps an apparent simplicity. Without all these little color touchs, I would be really fu**ing scary ^^

    Thx for advanced bibliography Zoetica!

  7. chillguru Says:

    i loved the artwork from those stories, as it fueled quite a bit of my imaginative jaunts. i remember them from the Time/Life series on the supernatural or unexplained…something like that.

  8. Tanya Says:

    Hey, thanks for writing about Bilibin! A long time favorite of mine, both as a childhood remnant, but also as something that appels to my Art Nouveau obsessed grown up aesthetics. The image of Vasilisa walking through the woods with the glowing skull is one of my favorites.

  9. Ashbet Says:

    I loved reading this story as a child . . . I don’t recall my edition having these illustrations, but I was fascinated by all the details and the disturbing themes. Thank you for sharing these gorgeous illustrations!!

    — A :>

  10. Lula Mae Says:

    This is my favorite faery tale ever! There are such incredibly rich images and themes of courage and deep respect for intuition and the dark unexplainable. For an in-depth analysis and retelling of the Baba Yaga/Vasilisa tale, check out Women Who Run with the Wolves by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes. She examines it from a Jungian feminist perspective and leaves the story just as haunting and instructive as it has always been.
    These illustrations are gorgeous! I want a Vasilisa tattoo!

  11. Deargamadan Says:

    Yeah, these illustrations have great depth and evoke something wonderfully strange and gravely beautiful. The lines are clean and the images crisp, but it’s also very deep and it pulls your imagination right in. The layering of the drawings gives them a very firm dimensionality. Striking yet folksy, they really set the tone for the story.

    I have a copy of the book (a reprint) sitting on my hold shelf at the bookstore i work at. It is destined for my wife’s holiday gift pile. I often sneak back to the pile to flip through it when things are slow.

  12. Vasyl at Says:

    […] coincidence, Nadya Lev at Coilhouse also has Baba Yaga on her mind this week. (Perhaps she is also menaced by eerie, spindly buckthorn limbs spontaneously uprooting […]

  13. derek Says:

    2 first editions of bilibins folktales Vassilisa the beautiful,and The feathers of fenest falcon,are too be auctioned at (trafford books)manchester england,on the 27 october 2009.regards