Baba Yaga Folklorette Puppet by Basil Milovsoroff

Baba Yaga Folklorette Puppet by Basil Milovsoroff

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Description (Brief)
This carved and painted wooden puppet, known as Baba Yaga the Wicked Witch, is one of four characters created by Basil Milovsoroff for one of his puppet shows based on Russian fairy tales. Baba Yaga, who is sitting on a bucket and holding her broom, is accompanied by Leyshi the magical villain and jokester, and Koschei the Deathless, along with a background panel called "The Hut on Chicken Legs". These puppets are moved using strings and/or rods.
Milovsoroff was known for his strange but whimsical puppets which were 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.
Born in Siberia, Basil Milovsoroff (1906–1992) emigrated to the United States in 1927 and went on to receive a bachelors degree from Oberlin College in 1932, and completed his masters in 1934. 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 Great 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 ever seen a play.
In 1954 Milovsoroff taught Russian at Cornell University and was named the Chairman of the National Festival of the Puppeteers of America.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
associated person
Milovsoroff, Basil
Milovsoroff, Basil
place made
United States: Vermont, Norwich
associated place
United States: Vermont
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
paint (overall material)
fabric (overall material)
overall: 16 in x 5 in x 14 in; 40.64 cm x 12.7 cm x 35.56 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Basil and Georgia Taylor Milovsoroff
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Entertainment
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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