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In Slavic mythology, bolotnik (Russian: болотник, literally «swamp man», translit. bolotnik), Belarusian balotnik (Belarusian: балотнiк), Ukrainian bolotyanik (Ukrainian: болотяник), Polish błotnik ([ˈbwɔtnik])[1] is a male swamp spirit. There are many descriptions of bolotnik. Usually he was portrayed as a man or an old man who has big, frog-like eyes, a green beard and long hair. His body is covered with dirt, algae and fish scales. Other legends says, that a bolotnik is dirty, fat, eyeless creature that motionlessly sits at the bottom of the swamp. In some legends bolotnik is also said to have long arms and a tail. Like the vodyanoy or rusalka, he lures and drags people into the water if they get close to the edge. It is believed that bolotnik has neither wife nor children; in the other legends he is married to bolotnitsa (or bolotnica),[2] a female swamp spirit, similar to a rusalka.


Bolotnik has a lot of names: bolotny (Russian: болотный; literally «swampy»), bolotny dedko (Russian: болотный дедко; «swamp oldman»), shut bolotny (Russian: шут болотный; «swamp jester»), bolotny chert (Russian: болотный чёрт; «swamp demon»), bolotny leshy (Russian: болотный леший), tsar bolotny (Russian: царь болотный), boloto (Russian: болото; «swamp»), ancibal (Russian: анцибал),[2] ancibul (Russian: анцибул), ancibalka (Russian: анцибалка), ancibalit (Russian: анцибалит), anchibal (Russian: анчибал), anchibol (Russian: анчибол), Belarusian balotnik (Belarusian: балотнiк), Ukrainian bolotyanik (Ukrainian: болотяник), ocheretyanik (Russian: очеретяник), błotnik (Old Polish).


It is believed that bolotnik and bolotnitsa lured people or animals to the swamp, where they would die.

To lure people to the swamp, a bolotnik quacked like a duck, mooed like a cow, gurgled like a black cock or screamed.[3] He also grew near the swamp stupefying herbs, mostly rosemary and created will-o'-the-wisps on the surface of the water . When a person is already in the quagmire, bolotnik grabs him by the feet and slowly, but inevitably drags him to the depths.

In Poland, błotnik is often associated with Boruta, the most well-known Polish devil from the Polish town Łęczyca.[4][5]


In the Russian North it is believed, that bolotnitsa (bolotnica) is the mistress of the swamp and tundra.[2] Like the bolotnik, there are many different descriptions of her. In one legend she is a rusalka (or a rusalka's sister). It was believed, for example, that a girl, who had died in a swamp or was carried away by an unclean spirit, could turn into the bolotnitsa. In some places bolotnitsa was considered to be more like a spirit that had no connections with the human race. Bolotnitsa was portrayed as a beautiful young girl with pale-white skin and goose legs instead of normal legs. To hide them, bolotnitsa would sit on a giant water lily, putting her legs under her. She lured people into the swamp with a loud cry for help and pretending that she was drowning. If they were charmed by her beauty, people would get close to her. She would then pounce on them and slowly pull them to the bottom of the swamp. It was believed that bolotnitsa liked to sing.[6] However, in other legends bolotnitsa is described as an old swamp hag.

Bolotnitsas also can cause storms, rain and hail.


  1. ^ Podgórscy, Barbara i Adam (2005). Wielka księga demonów polskich: leksykon i antologia demonologii ludowej. Katowice: Kos. pp. 52.
  2. ^ a b c Новичкова Т. А. (1995). "Болотник". Русский демонологический словарь (4100 экз ed.). СПб.: Петербургский писатель. p. 59. ISBN 5-265-02803-X.
  3. ^ Виноградова Л. Н. (2000). Народная демонология и мифо-ритуальная традиция славян. Традиционная духовная культура славян. Современные исследования. М.: Индрик. Отв. ред. С. М. Толстая. p. 128. ISBN 5-85759-110-4.
  4. ^ Fischer, A. (1928). Diabeł w wierzeniach ludu polskiego, pp. 208.
  5. ^ Pełka, Leonard (1987). Polska demonologia ludowa. Warszawa: Iskry. pp.187.
  6. ^ Brougher V. G. (2004). "Appendix: Bolotnitsa". Kondratiev A. On the Banks of the Yarin (PDF). Middlebury Studies in Russian Language and Literature. Vol. 28. ISSN 0888-8752. Peter Lang. p. 214. ISBN 0-8204-6746-4. (in English)

General references[edit]

  • Левкиевская Е. Е. Мифы русского народа. — М.: Астрель, 2000. — С. 349—351. — 528 с. — (Мифы народов мира). — ISBN 5-17-002811-3