Koschei Puppet

Koschei Puppet

Description (Brief)
This colorful painted wood puppet ,' Koschei' , the Deathless, is one of four marionettes based on a Russian folktale created by Basil Milovsoroff . 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 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 ever 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
Object Name
date made
ca 1939
Milovsoroff, Basil
associated place
United States: Vermont
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
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Basil and Georgia Taylor Milovsoroff
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Entertainment
1939 exhibit
Popular Entertainment
Data Source
National Museum of American History

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"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"

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