Z is for Zaftig Zilant

We are pleased to participate in the A to Z Blog Challenge (http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/). The Story Crossroads theme for this year is Dual Natures in Folktales Around the World – opposites, contradictions & paradoxes.


From Eastern Europe/Western Russia

What does “zaftig” mean? Well, it is “full figure, plump.” And zilants can often be “full” due to being a half snake/half bird creature that is much like a dragon and its menu of meats…including humans.

Some folkloric creatures cross border. Considering the terrible war going on right now, I have seen many stories that feel the same. Or ones that mirror each other. Western Russia is the most populated of all of Russia. Eastern Europe can mean Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, and Azerbaijan.

What is so fascinating? What dualities have surfaced?

Zilants already are two type of creatures combined – snake and bird. Really big snake and bird, but combined nonetheless.

No one in the kingdom would have thought that the Princess of Kazan would approach the Zilant to make a deal to fight off an invading army. The Zilant asked to be fed sweetgrass AND, every three weeks, have a child and woman. I guess that meat is tender and didn’t want any men? The princess agreed in the moment, trying to figure another way out. She needed to appear to keep her promise. Being duty-bound versus being two-faced.

Thankfully, a man named Gol accidentally (or luckily) killed the Zilant and she never had to send forth children and women. She even got the benefit of the deeds of Gol and his men to fight the army instead.

50-word-or-less summary:

Warrior Princess faces invaders. Makes deal with Zilant to fight. Must feed and give child and woman every three weeks! Agrees…but worries. Zilants creates nest to await invaders. Gol leading soldiers. Ragged. Zilant unsure if these are invaders. Gol – by luck – kills Zilant. Gol and soldiers help Princess.

Finding the Story: 

Book “Mythopedia: An Encyclopedia of Mythical Beasts and Their Magical Tales” with Story – found here

Book The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures: The Ultimate A–Z of Fantastic Beings from Myth and Magic – found here

Wikipedia on Zilant – found here

Please share thoughts in the comments. While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has year-round offerings. See quick list of programs here.

As for our past A to Z Challenges…

While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has been “dual” in our offerings of our hybrid summit & festival on May 9-12, 2022 – yes, in-person and virtual – and would be honored for you to join us. Explore the schedule and register here: http://www.storycrossroads.org/Festival

Thanks to funding from National Endowment for the Arts; National Endowment for the Humanities; Western States Arts Federation; Utah Division of Arts and Museums/Utah Legislature; Utah Humanities; Youth, Educators, Storytellers (YES); City of Murray; Zoo, Arts & Parks (ZAP) of Salt Lake County; Salt Lake City Arts Council; Clever Octopus; High Desert Brain Trust; Ashton Family Foundation; and people like you.

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