Čuma is a mythical creature in Slavic, specifically Serbian, mythology that brings disease and plague. She is usually portraited as an old woman with long hair, and though invisible, can be seen by people who were born on Saturday. Čuma very much cares about hygiene and one way to protect yourself from Čuma is to keep your home clean. It was believed that Čuma comes from distant lands and carries a list of people which she must kill. For killing she has a bowl with darts in it - if you’d steal these darts from her, she wouldn’t be able to kill people anymore, and she’d become a healer. When plague would show up in villages, people would make “Čuma’s shirt" - it is a shirt that must be made by nine old women, who must be naked while doing this, and do it at night, with no other light but flames from the fireplace. Then everyone would wriggle through this shirt, believing it’d protect them from Čuma.
illustration by Dragan Bibin