An illustration, 1906
Grouping Fairy
Relict hominid
Country Slavic Europe
Habitat Forests

The Leshy (Russian: Ле́ший; IPA: [ˈlʲeʂɨj]; literally, "[he] from the forest") is the tutelary spirit of the forests in Slavic folklore. The plural form in Russian can be transliterated leshiye (with accent on the vowel after the l).

Leshiye are masculine and humanoid in shape, are able to assume any likeness[1] and can change in size and height.[2][3] In some accounts, the leshy is described as having a wife (leshachikha/leszachka/lesovikha) and children (leshonki/leszonky). Because of his propensity to lead travelers astray and abduct children, which he shares with Chort, or "The Black One," the Leshy is believed by some to be evil. Others view him as more of a temperamental being like a fairy.[4]

Names and etymology

The Leshy is known by a variety of names and spellings including the following:[5][6][7][8][9]

Main name variations:

Home of the leshy. "Fairy Forest at Sunset" by Ivan Bilibin, 1906.

Euphemistic titles:

"The Leshy" by P. Dobrinin, 1906.

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Leshiy.


  1. Ushakov,Dmitry. (1896) Материалы по народным верованиям великоруссов, Этнографическое обозрение [Materials on the folk beliefs of the Great Russian, Ethnographic Review]. (Vol. 8), no. 2-3, pg. 158.
  2. Maksimov, S. V. (1912) Нечистая сила. Неведомая сила // Собрание сочинений [The Unclean Force, The Unknown Force, Collected Works]. pp. 79-80.
  3. Tokarev, Sergei Aleksandrovich. (1957) Религиозные верования восточнославянских народов XIX — начала XX века [The religious beliefs of the peoples of East 19th – early 20th centuries]. AN SSSR Moscow and Leningrad. p. 80.
  4. 1 2 Ivanits, Linda J. (1989) Russian Folk Belief. Routledge. p. 68 ISBN 0-873-32889-2
  5. Afanasyev, Alexander Nikolayevich. (2013) Поэтические воззрения славян на природу [The Poetic Outlook of Slavs About Nature]. Akademicheskii Proyekt. Moscow. ISBN 978-5-8291-1451-0 ISBN 978-5-8291-1461-9
  6. Afanasyev, Alexander Nikolayevich. (1983) Древо жизни и лесные духи [The Tree of Life and Forest Spirits]. Sovremennik. Moscow.
  7. Afanasyev, Alexander Nikolayevich. (2008) Славянская мифология [Slavic Mythology]. Eksmo, Migard. Moscow. ISBN 978-5-699-27982-1
  8. Krinichnaya, Neonila Artyomovna. (2004) Русская мифология: Мир образов фольклора [Russian Mythology: The World of Folklore Images]. Akademicheskii Proyekt. Moscow. ch. 3, "Leshy: Totemic origins and the polysemy of images". ISBN 5-8291-0388-5 ISBN 5-98426-022-0
  9. Levkievskaya, Elena E. (2011) Мифы русского народа [Myths of the Russian People]. AST, Astrel, VKT. Chapter "Leshy". ISBN 978-5-17-072533-5 ISBN 978-5-271-33771-0 ISBN 978-5-226-03926-3
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