In Slavic folklore, the mysterious female kikimora may be either a house spirit, whom some tales say is the wife of the domovoi, or a wild being of the forest or swamps. As a house spirit, she usually lives behind the stove or in the cellar, like the domovoi.
The size and shape of the kikimora varies. In the role of the house spirit, she may look like an ordinary woman with her hair unbound, or she may appear as a small, dirty, humpbacked woman. But as the wild being, she has been described as having a tiny head and a straw-thin body, or a long beak, scrawny neck, taloned ﬁngers, and feet like those of a chicken.
When the kikimora decides (or possibly is assigned, by whom is unknown) to be a house spirit, she takes care of the chickens. She will help with the housework if it is clear that the farmer’s wife is doing her best but is overburdened with work.
The kikimora will toil all night after the humans are asleep. She will do this, however, only if the home is well kept. If it is not, or if she is angered in some other way, she will bother the family, particularly the children, by tickling people who are trying to sleep, and whistling and whining so that no one can get any rest. To appease her, the house must be thoroughly cleaned, and the pots should be washed in fern tea.
The kikimora does have an aspect that seems similar to that of the Irish banshee. She spins at night, and anyone who sees her spinning will soon die.
Although she is not a well-known folkloric figure outside of Slavic lands, a modern Finnish publisher has been named Kikimora and uses a likeness as its logo.
The Russian composer Anatol Liadov (1855–1914) wrote a seven-minute tone poem titled Kikimora, Opus 63, which was ﬁrst performed in 1909.