In Slavic folklore, Koschei (Russian: Коще́й, tr. Koshchey; IPA: [kɐˈɕːej], also Kashchei or Kashchey; Ukrainian: Кощій, Koshchiy; Polish: Kościej; Czech: Kostěj) is an archetypal male antagonist, described mainly as abducting the hero's wife. None of the existing tales actually describes his appearance, though in book illustrations, cartoons and cinema he has been most frequently represented as a very old and ugly-looking man. Koschei is also known as Koschei the Immortal or Koschei the Deathless (Russian: Коще́й Бессме́ртный, Ukrainian: Кащик невмирущий, Czech: Kostěj nesmrtelný), as well as Tzar Koschei. As is usual in transliterations, there are numerous other spellings, such as Koshchei, Kashchej and Kaschei. The spelling in Russian and other Slavic languages (like Polish "Kościej" or Czech "Kostěj") suggests that his name may be derived from the word kost' (rus. кость, pol. kość) meaning 'bone', implying a skeletal appearance.
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. As long as his soul is safe, he cannot die. 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. Anyone possessing the egg has Koschei in their power. He begins to weaken, becomes sick, and immediately loses the use of his magic. If the egg is tossed about, he likewise is flung around against his will. If the egg or needle is broken (in some tales, this must be done by specifically breaking it against Koschei's forehead), Koschei will die.
In folk tales 
"The Death of Koschei the Deathless" is a Russian fairy tale collected by Alexander Afanasyev in Narodnye russkie skazki, which itself is included in The Red Fairy Book.
Koschei also appears in Russian versions of the story "The Frog Princess".
In popular culture 
- In Vasilisa Prekrasnaya (Vasilisa the Beautiful), a Russian cartoon based on the Russian fairy tale.
- A villain in Igor Stravinsky's The Firebird.
- Lord Voldemort is based on Koschei, as the antagonist of Harry Potter, as Lord Voldemort has his seven Horcruxes which conceal his soul and render him immortal. As each is destroyed, he slowly goes insane.
- Davy Jones is also based on Koschei. His heart is separate from his body, rendering him immortal, and his heart has been locked in the Dead Man's Chest on the Isla Cruces in the Caribbean Sea. Whoever owns the Chest has Davy Jones at their mercy, and this sets off a race where the Navy and the pirates of the Caribbean try and possess the Chest.
- Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov wrote an opera involving Koschei, titled Кащей бессмертный —Kashchey the Deathless.
- In the Soviet animated film Beloved Beauty (1958).
- Mercedes Lackey's novel of Stravinsky's Firebird features Katschei as the main villain, retelling the classic tale for a modern audience. Also, in her 500 Kingdoms series, the Katschei is referenced in the novels The Fairy Godmother and "Fortune's Fool."
- Koschei appears as an antagonist to the heroic demon Hellboy in the 2007 comic book Hellboy: Darkness Calls. The Baba Yaga will grant him death only through Hellboy's destruction, but in Hellboy, Koschei's soul is hidden in an egg, inside a duck, inside a hare, inside a goat. Vasilisa Prekrasnaya also appears and helps Hellboy. Koschei's origin story is later revealed in (as yet uncollected) backup stories to single issues of Hellboy: The Wild Hunt.
- In The Sandman: Fables and Reflections, Koschei's emerald heart (or, more likely a piece of green glass being passed off as such) passes into the possession of a Gypsy trader, then a werewolf, and finally Baba Yaga.
- In Monday Begins on Saturday by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, as one of the creatures held in the NIIChaVo institute.
- Nina C. Young wrote Kashchei (2010), a music composition for nine instruments and electronics based on the layers that conceal Koschei's death.
- Koschei appears as an immortal Russian warrior in the dark fantasy novel "Wren the Fox Witch" (2012). The novel also features Baba Yaga as Koschei's mother.
- Koschei appears as a character in the MMORPG RuneScape, under the name "Koschei the Deathless".
- In the Doctor Who expanded universe, the real name of the Doctor's arch nemesis, "The Master," is said to be "Koschei," which is appropriate considering the Master's striking ability to live on despite many "deaths."
- Koschei appears as a character in John C. Wright (author)'s "War of the Dreaming" novels.
- Catherynne Valente's novel Deathless is a retelling of the Koschei story set against a backdrop of 20th-century Russian history.
See also 
External links