Domovoi/Domowik - Felt Sculpture
I'd taken a little break from blogging, as I'd been thinking about the direction in which to take my work. Not that I'd had THAT many ideas, more like ideas of what I didn't want to do.
I didn't exactly take a break from felting though, as I've now completed a Victoria Plum doll, three Slimeys, and one Lowly from commissions.
As fun as it is doing worms and toys, that's still not where I'm headed (though I don't mind being commissioned for those at all, so don't let this hold you back from asking me to make something for you).
It's more along the lines of something like this.
I've always been fascinated with mythical creatures of legend and lore. Every culture on this planet has them, surprisingly even the one of my heritage. Especially considering Christianity hasn't been too fond of perpetuating such stories, and Poland has been a Catholic country since 900AD. Only a few legends remain, like the dragon in Krakow, or the mermaid in Warsaw.
I personally do fear the genocide of cultural history. Even if it's not as blatant as smashing ancient sculptures due to fears/claims of idolatry the way Isis is doing, once the stories are forgotten, that's it. I had NO idea that the Slavic people even had a mythology of their own (much like the Norse, or Greeks, or Egyptians, or Romans, or Celts) until I was an adult - this was before wikipedia, which now has several pages on this topic. Thankfully someone continued to tell the stories, and they were written down.
I want to needle felt the creatures of myth and legend and lore, starting with the Slavic ones.
So, a bit about the Domovoi (which is Russian, in other Slavic languages it's “Damavik” - Belarus; “Domowik/Domovik/Domovyk” - Polish/Slovak/Ukranian; “Domaći” - Serbian; “Dědek” - Czech). He is similar to brownies in English/Scottish culture, the tomte in Scandinavian culture, and the Heinzelmännchen in German culture. He's a friendly little house spirit, one who hides under the threshold or behind the central brick stove that was used both to heat the entire house and for cooking meals (my grandfather had one of these in his old house). Well, "friendly" in the sense that as long as he was kept happy, through the upkeep of the home and leaving him some table scraps, he caused no trouble.
Each family had one. It was a mutually symbiotic relationship, in that he'd then protect the family from more malevolent spirits and might even help out with a bit of household work (much like my kids do I'd imagine... which is not very much, but sometimes they'll pick up a piece of trash and throw it away). Now, if one were to anger them, they would smash things and make a lot of racket. Also like having kids. Especially if the family moved and neglected to inform and invite him to come along with them, he would be very upset and cause a lot of trouble for the next family that would move in, getting into fights with their domovoi and smashing up their good china. You know what? I think it's basically like having a perpetual toddler in your house that looks like an old man, though maybe a bit more capable in some ways.
Now, originally he just looked like a little old man, the size of a child, with glowing eyes. I tried to stay as close to the description I found on this page, though I did give him black glass eyes because I thought he looked cuter with it. Also, I decided to keep the horns, even though the horns were a much later addition (along with a tail, which I did not add), thanks to Christianity trying to associate him with the devil and devilish-type things. But in this case, I thought the horns looked cute and would help to differentiate him from simply being a doll of an old man, or a naked gnome without a hat.
And I do mean naked. I left nothing behind... okay, I did consider making him anatomically correct, but use your imagination.
If you'd like more information, please visit this page. It's the most comprehensive post I've found on the topic, complete with bibliography.