Fabulous Firebirds


I did a thing.


My old bag I was using for grad school broke to the point that it was no long worth repairing (I had already fixed it many times over the years, and it was at the point I would essentially have to replace the entire inner lining and sew on new straps and add a new zipper—essentially, to make a new bag). Thus, I said screw it and just made a new bag.


In keeping with my obsession with the firebird, that ever elusive figure from Slavic folklore, I decided to theme my new school bag around that. Hence the trim, and, obviously, the firebird on the front. I’m not sure if it shows up in the picture, but there’s some beaded details on her tail, and the eye and beak are beaded as well. The bag itself is canvas (with a quilted lining of faux suede), complete with padded straps, lots of room for my books and binders, and loads of pockets. This thing shouldn’t be breaking anytime soon (not even the beadwork—that sh*t is triple stitched).


The firebird has long been one of my favorite folkloric creatures. Like the phoenix, she is—as her name implies—a bird of flame and fierce beauty. She is also a symbol of freedom, of untamed femininity, of the glowing mysteries at the heart of a dark forest. Many heroes seek her (and the golden egg she guards), entranced by her song, doomed to follow after her scattered feathers until they waste away to nothingness. Other heroes have been able, however briefly, to capture her—luring her, perhaps, with apples, another item packed with symbolic meaning—but she never stays caught for long. I have long interpreted these skazki (Slavic fairy tales) such that the firebird is only ever captured when she wants to be, on her own terms. That’s why why she always escapes, why she blinks out of her confines and reappears beyond the bars of her cage, to float freely through the forest once more.


I have not yet incorporated the firebird into the world of Aorea, the setting for the majority of my stories, although I have alluded to her here and there. As Aorea is loosely inspired by Slavic myth and folklore, you can rest assured: she has a planned appearance in book three.


Until then, the firebird on my newest shoulder bag will just have to suffice.

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© 2015 by Melissa Ivanco