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1001 Stories Collection

Ivan and the Frog Princess

1001 ivanandthefrogprincess johncameron
Added on 27th August 2020

Oral tradition Folktale from Russia

Ivan's destiny is to marry a frog


Long ago, there was a tsar with three sons. One day, he told them each to shoot an arrow, and said that wherever it landed, they would find a wife. The arrows of the two eldest brothers landed near lovely young women, but the arrow of the youngest landed in a swamp, in the mouth of a frog. Ivan despaired, but destiny decreed that he must marry the frog. Little did he know that the frog was really a clever, beautiful princess under a curse.

Why we chose it

One of the most popular Russian folktales and an animal transformation story in which the princess has been transformed rather than the prince.

Where it came from

The first Russian folktales appear in the 12th century, though arguably existed earlier. However, the telling of non-Christian narratives was forbidden by the Church, and folktales only started being recorded in the 16th century. The Frog Princess is a folktale with various versions and origins across Central and Eastern Europe. Russian variants of the tale include Ivan and the Frog Princess, Tsarevna Frog, and Vasilisa the Wise. Vasilisa, also known as Vasilisa the Wise or Vasilisa the Beautiful, is a stock character who appears in several Russian folktales. Multiple versions of the tale were collected by Alexander Afanasyev in his Russian Fairy Tales, published between 1855 and 1863.

Where it went next

Ivan and the Frog Princess remains one of the most popular folktales in Russia and has been retold in many story compilations. It has also been illustrated by famous artists including Ivan Biblin in 1901. Film adaptations of the story include Vasilisa the Beautiful (1940), a Soviet film. Folktales were often used by the Soviets as a form of propaganda. There was also an animated film in 1977.

Associated stories

An Italian variation on the story, The Frog appears in The Violet Fairy Book (1901) by Andrew Lang. In Italian Folktales (1956), Italo Calvino included another Italian version, The Prince Who Married a Frog, and noted that the tale appears throughout Europe.

The Frog Prince, a common fairy tale most often associated with the Brothers Grimm, in which a princess kisses a frog, who then becomes a prince, is a sort of gender-reversed version of The Frog Princess.

Added on 27th August 2020

Oral tradition Folktale from Russia