Wicked Sister

The bad influence in the family.


*The Wicked Sisters is a Russian fairy tale collected by Alexander Afanasyev

“The Queen’s Children”

Prince Ivan overhears three beautiful sisters talking. The older two say that if he married them, they would sew him a marvelous shirt, but the youngest says she would bear him three sons with the sun on their foreheads, the moon on the back of their heads, and stars to each side.

The older sisters were jealous and bribed the youngest sisters servants; when she bore the sons she had said, her sisters stole them and hid them an arbor in the garden. The two older sisters then presented the prince with first a puppy, then a kitten, then an ordinary child. The young princess is tried in court for deceiving Prince Ivan and consigned to have her eyes gouged out, put into a tarred barrel with her child, and thrown into the sea. If she were guilty, she would die, but if she were innocent, she would emerge.

  • Prince Ivan marries the eldest sister, the one who whisked away her younger sister’s children and put them, as the story says, in the royal garden’s green arbor.
  • While this was happening the substitute child, sealed in the barrel with the suffering princess, grows into a young man in a matter of hours.
  • With the invocation, “By my request, by the pike’s command, by God’s blessing,” the boy brings the princess back to shore, cures her blindness, and transports the palace and the garden, where the three brothers are hidden, to their mother
  • The boy then presents the three luminescent brothers with cakes made from their mother’s milk. The brothers recognize the favor, are reunited with their mother, and treat the substitute child as their brother.
  • They live in the transported palace, giving rest and comfort to anyone who travels their way, including some monks who later find themselves in Prince Ivan’s company. They describe to him their previous hosts who had suns on the foreheads, moons behind, and stars on their bodies. The monks also tell of their mother, a most lovely princess.
  • Prince Ivan knows who they are, abandons his false wife, and rejoins his true family. All live happily thereafter except for the eldest sister, who is put in a tarred barrel and thrown out to sea.


Expanded info:



This story gave rise to many other variations later on

  • “The Dancing Water, the Singing Apple, and the Speaking Bird”
  • “The Three Little Birds”
  • “The Boys with the Golden Stars”
  • “A String of Pearls Twined with Golden Flowers”
  • “Princess Belle-Etoile”
  • “Ancilotto, King of Provino”
  • “The Pretty Little Calf”