Leshyi Puppet

Description (Brief)
This whimsical painted and ornamented figure named 'Leyshi' or Standing Bird is one of four marionettes created by Basil Milovsoroff for one of his puppet shows. ' Leshyi' the Standing Bird is a magical villain and jokester who represents 'the Image of a mythical forest creature with large painted horns and two different hats. He is accompanied by 'Baba Yaga' ,the wicked witch, and 'Kosheyi' the Deathless and a background painted panel called 'The Hut on Chicken Legs'. The puppets could be operated with either strings and/or a rod.
Born in Siberia, Basil Milovsoroff (1906–1992) emigrated to the US in 1927 and graduated from Ohio's Oberlin college in 1934 with a masters degree. .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 puppet shows in Museums and children's theaters featuring Russian folk tales
Milovsoroff was a member of The Federal Theatre Project ,which was one of many programs created by President Roosevelt for the New Deal in 1935. The project was developed during the Depression to employ jobless theater professionals and make the performing arts available to the vast number of citizens who had little money for entertainment. 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 never seen a play.
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
date made
associated person
Milovsoroff, Basil
Milovsoroff, Basil
associated place
United States: Vermont
Physical Description
fabric;; metal wood; wire; fabric (overall material)
overall: 21 in x 8 in x 8 in; 53.34 cm x 20.32 cm x 20.32 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Entertainment
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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