Ukrainian folk tale Kotyhoroshko.

The most good-natured of Ukrainian fairy tale heroes came into the world because his mother ate a pea that was rolling along the road. Hence, his name is Kotyhoroshko (rolling pea), which in the original sounds like “kotytsia horoshok.” Having grown up in three days, he looks no different from anyone else. According to him, his gigantic power is imperceptible. But it is this power that makes everyone jealous, both his fellow villagers and the brothers he freed from a serpent’s prison (as a many-headed dragon is called in Ukraine). The brothers coveted glory and the serpent’s treasure, and they tried to kill Kotyhoroshko with a cunning trick. Leaving the serpent’s gold with an ungrateful family, he sets off again and encounters three magic warriors – Vernydub, Vernyhora, and Krutyvus – with whom he has various adventures. His mighty brothers cannot resist a new enemy, a cruel old wizard. Only Kotyhoroshko can descend into the underworld, defeat him, and free the princess. Our hero is not only strong, but also shrewd. He realizes that the brothers are deceitful, and therefore avoids the death trap they set up. In the underworld, the hero rescues a huge bird’s chicks from a terrible torrent, and, in gratitude, she brings him to the surface. The tale has a happy ending: Kotyhoroshko forgives the traitors and marries the rescued princess. The image of Kotyhoroshko is one of the most recognizable in Ukrainian folklore.


He is stocky, squat, and strong, like a pea, a symbol of the life-giving forces of nature, prosperity and fertility. He has an never-changing sheepskin cap (ukrainian national men’s headdress, like a karakul) on his head, and an iron bulava (mace) (#5) in his hands, which no one but he can lift. He is good-natured, but not stupid; courageous, but peaceful; patient, but not forever; forgiving, but does not forget; he never gives up and treats everything with humor. This is the Ukrainian national temperament, which is why the character is so popular in the country: cartoons are made about him, they draw comics, contests and candies are named after him. And recently two monuments were erected in Kyiv to the boy who beat the Serpent: in the center of the city and in the Obolon’ district.

Victoria Ugryumova 


This article was published in the book Interesting Ukraine.
You could download this book in PDF file for free here.

© Sky Horse Publishing House (Kyiv) / Nahs Haus, 2019
Copying and publication of this article is possible only with the written permission of the publishing house.
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