The Mistress of the Copper Mountain
Another well-known in the folklore spirit of the mountain is the famous Mistress of the Copper Mountain – a mythical image of the mistress of the Ural Mountains, the keeper of precious rocks and stones. She sometimes appears before the people in the form of a beautiful woman with a braid and ribbons of thin clinking copper, in a dress from “silk malachite”, and sometimes, in the form of a lizard in the crown.
The tale became popular after the publication of P.P. Bazhov’s collection of tales of the “Malachite Box”. In the tale “The Stone Flower” master Danila meets with the Mistress of the Copper Mountain, whom she helps to discover his talent. “The Copper Mountain Mistress” is one of the most famous tales of the Russian writer Pavel Bazhov (1879-1950). The tale was first published in 1936. The Copper Mountain is the name of the copper mine Gumeshki in the Ural.
When writing the tales, P.P. Bazhov based on oral traditions, heard by him in his childhood from miners in 1892-1895. The image of the Mistress of the Copper Mountain is presented differently in the mountain-worker’s folklore: the Mountain queen, the Stone maiden, the Golden woman, the girl Azovka, the Mountain Spirit, the Mountain elder, the Mountain master. All these folklore characters are the keepers of the riches of the mountain depths.
The Mistress of the Mountain patronizes people, who mine for stones in her mountains, who see the beauty of the stone and do not regret their work with the stone. She teaches the secret art: how to “release” the most secret, the hidden beauty of the stone. She punishes the greed and the cruel, turning a valuable stone into a valueless stone, or even a human body into stone.
In the mountains, the Mistress, has such a palace, which, perhaps, were not dreamed of by a mortal. But no human can voluntarily enter her underground palace. Only if the Mistress opens the door in front of him. And she has doors to every cave, every mine and every tunnel.
Many people would like to get acquainted with her and become her guests, because the Mistress has such a pleasant habit: to present guests with new knowledge, with new skills and with just a handful of precious stones. Only it is better not to strive towards this. The Mistress is the most “evil” force, more evil than any snake or any serpent of all times. She is cruel and heartless, but a just ruler of the mountains, just as any deity of the pre-Christian era.
And, by the way, for everything that the Mistress of the Copper Mountain will gift, always, sooner or later, will be paid back with great interest: misfortunes or early death, or some kind of illness: physical or psychological. Those, who are noticed and greeted by the Mistress never have an easy life. As they say in the Urals:
“Here she is, the Copper Mountain Mistress! If an unkind will meet with her – disaster; and if kind – not enough joy.”
She does not like it when someone else commands in her mountains, it is solely her right to give and take, punish and pardon. And the stone obeys her, as if water under her hands: it can sink into the depths of the earth, or can spill out onto the surface, or can wrap a person as a shroud and freeze in such a way.
In Sibai, old residents of the underground mine told a tale. One miner went on duty, and while he was performing his work, an unfamiliar woman approached him and told him to rapidly go to his partner, for his partner was ill. The miner ran to the place where the woman showed, and suddenly, on the spot where he stood a few seconds ago, there was a rock collapse. Running to his partner, the miner say that he was calmly doing his job. And then it dawned on him that there could be no woman in the mine. Then they were told that it was the Mistress of the Copper Mountain.