Koschei and Baš Čelik
Recently I’ve been reading about Koschei, creature known in Russian, Ukranian, Polish and Czech folklore and I’ve noticed similarities to creature from Serbian folklore called Baš Čelik.
About Koschei (taken from Wikipedia):
Koschei cannot be killed by conventional means targeting his body. His soul (or death) is hidden separate from his body inside a needle, which is in an egg, which is in a duck, which is in a hare, which is in an iron chest (sometimes the chest is crystal and/or gold), which is buried under a green oak tree, which is on the island of Buyan in the ocean.
Baš Čelik (my translation from the fairy tale):
"Far from here there is a tall mountain, and in the mountain there is a fox, in fox there is a heart, in heart there is a bird. In that bird lies my strength."
Of course both can’t be easily killed, Baš Čelik’s fox will run away and take many other forms to hide outside of the mountain and in Koschei’s case If the chest is dug up and opened, the hare will bolt away, if it is killed, the duck will emerge and try to fly off.
Koschei’s name essentailly means bones, so he was probably made up of bones, had some sort of a boney look, while in Baš Čelik’s name čelik means steel, implying he’s made of metal. The beginnings of fairytales “Death of Koschei the Deathless” and “Baš Čelik” are quite similar. Both Koschei and Baš Čelik are locked in a dungeon and a prince, protagonist of the tale walks in even after being warned not to do so. In both stories, the magical creature begs prince for three buckets of water which regain it’s strength. They both kidnap princes’ wife and disappear. Stories then differ featuring different creatures from Slavic mythology - in Russian version Baba Yaga appears as a helper and in Serbian it’s dragon, azdaja (on wikipedia they translated it as slavic dragon, but that’s not quite correct) and an a giant falcon. In the end both Koschei and Baš Čelik are killed.