Mavka (aka niavka, navka, from Old Slavic nav ‘the dead’). A mythological female figure, tall, round-faced, long-haired, and sometimes naked. The nymphs known by this term represented the souls of girls who had died unnatural deaths. They were believed to live in groups in forests, mountain caves, or sheds, which they decorated with rugs. They made thread of stolen flax and wove thin transparent cloth for making clothes for themselves. They loved flowers, which they wore in their hair. In the spring they planted flowers in the mountains, to which they enticed young men, whom they tickled to death. On Pentecost (known as Mavka's Easter) they held games, dances, and orgies. A demon accompanied them on a flute or pipes. They are depicted in literature, most notably in Lesia Ukrainka's Lisova pisnia (The Forest Song) and Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky's Tini zabutykh predkiv (Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors). (See also Demonology.)

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