Russian Fairy Tales | Annotated Tale

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Golovikha, The

Our final illustration of the Skazkas which satirize women is the story of the Golovikha. It is all the more valuable, inasmuch as it is one of the few folk-tales which throw any light on the working of Russian communal institutions. The word Golovikha means, in its strict sense, the wife of a Golova, or elected chief  [Golova = head] of a Volost, or association of village communities; but here it is used for a "female Golova," a species of "mayoress."


A CERTAIN woman was very bumptious. Her husband came from a village council one day, and she asked him:

                 "What have you been deciding over there?"

                 "What have we been deciding? why choosing a Golova."

                 "Whom have you chosen?"

                 "No one as yet."

                 "Choose me," says the woman.

                 So as soon as her husband went back to the council (she was a bad sort; he wanted to give her a lesson) he told the elders what she had said. They immediately chose her as Golova.

                 Well the woman got along, settled all questions, took bribes, and drank spirits at the peasant's expense. But the time came to collect the poll-tax. The Golova couldn't do it, wasn't able to collect it in time. There came a Cossack, and asked for the Golova; but the woman had hidden herself. As soon as she learnt that the Cossack had come, off she ran home.

                 "Where, oh where can I hide myself?" she cries to her husband. "Husband dear! tie me up in a bag, and put me out there where the corn-sacks are."

                 Now there were five sacks of seed-corn outside, so her husband tied up the Golova, and set her in the midst of them. Up came the Cossack and said:

                 "Ho! so the Golova's in hiding."

                 Then he took to slashing at the sacks one after another with his whip, and the woman to howling at the pitch of her voice:

                 "Oh, my father! I won't be a Golova, I won't be a Golova."

                 At last the Cossack left off beating the sacks, and rode away. But the woman had had enough of Golova-ing; from that time forward she took to obeying her husband.



[1] Afanasief, ii. No. 12. Written down by a "Crown Serf," in the government of Perm.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Golovikha, The
Tale Author/Editor: Ralston, William Ralston Shedden
Book Title: Russian Fairy Tales
Book Author/Editor: Ralston, William Ralston Shedden
Publisher: Hurst & Co.
Publication City: New York
Year of Publication: 1873
Country of Origin: Russia
Classification: unclassified

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