As ambiguous as she is hideous, Baba Yaga is an anomaly – both a maternal, mother-nature figure and an evil villain who enjoys eating those who fail to complete her tasks. Though the origins of her name are as unclear as her purpose tends to be, it is believed that baba means something akin to “old woman” or “grandmother”, while yaga has conflicting theories of meaning ranging from “snake” to “wicked.” Regardless, even Baba Yaga’s name emphasizes the strangeness of her person, making her an interesting character to decipher.
The most common portrayal of Baba Yaga is as either one old woman or a trio of old sisters, all of whom are depicted as skinny, with iron teeth, and noses so long that they touch the ceiling when they sleep.
Baba Yaga is commonly illustrated as riding around on a mortar rather than a broom, wielding a pestle as both a flying aid and a wand. Tales involving her usually take place at her hut. It is found deep in the woods, standing on magical chicken legs, with a rooster’s head on top. Legend says her hut is surrounded by a fence made of human bones.