Koschei Puppet

Description (Brief)
This colorful painted wood puppet , Koschei, the Deathless, is one of four marionettes based on a Russian folktale, was created by Basil Milovsoroff for his play ">>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>". The puppets could be operated with either strings or a rod.
Milovsoroff was known for his strange but whimsical puppets based on characters from Russian folklore and fairy tales
Milovsoroff called these puppets folklorettes otherwise known as ; sprites, elves, goblins or fairies who lived in an imaginary, forest like kingdom. These stories were passed down through an oral tradition, and often performed on stage as an opera or a ballet. ..
From 1934-1957 he toured the United States producing puppets shows in Museums and children's theaters featuring Russian folk tales
Born in Siberia, Basil Milovsoroff (1906–1992) emigrated to the US in 1927 and graduated from Ohio's Oberlin college with a masters degree. in 1934. Milovsoroff was a member of The Federal Theatre Project ,which was one of many programs created by Roosevelt for the New Deal in 1935. The project was developed during the Depression in order to employ jobless theater professionals and make the performing arts available to the vast number of citizens who had little money for entertainment. The Federal Theater Project , active from 1935-1939 gave many the hope of a nationally supported theater, and it was the most popular cultural project of the New Deal. .
Puppets were an integral part of this project and marionette units presented an average of 1200 shows a week in 22 states
Between 1934-1937, the Federal Theater Project units produced over 2700 plays seen by about 30 million people, most of whom had ever seen a play.
From 1934-1957 he toured the United States producing puppets shows in Museums and children's theaters featuring Russian folk tales
In 1954 Milovsoroff taught Russian at Cornell University and in 1954 was named the Chairman of the National Festival of the Puppeteers of America.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
ca 1939
Milovsoroff, Basil
Physical Description
paint (overall material)
straw (overall material)
wood (overall material)
overall: 25 in x 5 in x 16 in; 63.5 cm x 12.7 cm x 40.64 cm
associated place
United States: Vermont
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
1939 exhibit
Popular Entertainment
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Entertainment
1939 exhibit
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

Visitor Comments

1/8/2014 12:53:31 PM
Jon Griffith
Mr. Milovsovoff was a college friend of my father at Oberlin College. He visited our home when I was in my early teens and gave a puppet show for women's club. Later he sent one of his sculptures to my father which I have inherited. It is named, The Patrician. It is a wooden man thumbing his nose. One of its hands is as long as a leg with a huge naturally occurring appendage that could also be a foot. He put red and green eyes on the head for port and starboard. It is wrapped in a copper spiral adornment for clothing. I can provide pictures of this sculpture if you wish to have them. Thank you. Jon Griffith
Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Selected comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about the history, rarity, or value of your personal artifacts.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Enter the characters shown in the image.