In Slavic mythology, vodyanoy or vodyanoi (Russian: водяно́й, lit. ‘[he] from the water’ or ‘watery’) is a male water spirit. Folktales mention him as being both evil and good vodníci (relative to human beings) who do (or don’t, respectively) try to drown people when they happen to swim in their territory. Vodníci would store the souls of the drowned in porcelain teapots. They consider their teapots their most valuable heritage and display their “work”, using the number of teapots to represent their wealth and/or status among other vodníci. When the lid of such a pot is removed, the soul within (in the form of a bubble) will escape and be liberated.
Fishermen ask the vodník for help by placing a pinch of tobacco in the water and saying, “Here’s your tobacco, Lord Vodník, now give me a fish.” In Czech, Slovak and Slovene tales vodníci live in ponds or rivers; there is no mention of a particular dwelling and the “half-sunken log” does not appear. There are almost no references to vodníci in connection with sea water, which it is supposed would be dangerous or even deadly for them.
Vodyanoy is said to appear as a naked old man with a frog-like face, greenish beard, and long hair, with his body covered in algae and muck, usually covered in black fish scales. He has webbed paws instead of hands, a fish’s tail, and eyes that burn like red-hot coals. He usually rides along his river on a half-sunken log, making loud splashes. Consequently, he is often dubbed “grandfather” or “forefather” by the local people. Local drownings are said to be the work of the vodyanoy (or rusalkas).
When angered, the vodyanoy breaks dams, washes down water mills, and drowns people and animals. (Consequently, fishermen, millers, and also bee-keepers make sacrifices to appease him.) He would drag people down to his underwater dwelling to serve him as slaves.
You will receive the pictured antique slavic tea pot