Cactus Gallery LA
BABA YAGA THE TERRIBLE by artist Ulla Anobile
Paper mache, acrylics, 12" x 9 3/4"
This mask presents Baba Yaga in the 'terrible', witchy, devouring aspect of Mother Nature; the way she is mostly depicted in Russian and other Slavic folktales. My fondness for her stems from the interpretation of her symbols by my favorite Jungian scholar, the late Marie-Louise von Franz, who discusses the tale 'The Beautiful Wasilissa' in her book 'The Feminine in Fairytales'. Baba Yaga appears in this tale. She sees Baba Yaga's vehicle, the mortar and the pestle, as life's 'crushing' instrument, which at some point catches up with us all; this realization not for the squeamish.
Baba Yaga also speaks of 'my day' and 'my night', indicating she is a powerful goddess figure who controls the forces of the universe. When speaking of Baba Yaga's 'helpers', the pairs of bodiless hands, and of Wasilissa's restraint in asking certain questions, von Franz engages in a profound meditation on the force of evil, stating that it's sometimes best not to face it directly, for fear of contamination. I made Baba Yaga's fence, with the skulls atop the posts, circular, hinting at the wheels of life and fate, which grind on, whether we accept this or not.