From Russian, literally, "one of the house" Alternative names:
- Bulgarian: Stopan
- Czech: Dedek or Djadek
- Polish: Domowoj
- Serbian : Домаћи (domaći)
- Slovene: Domovoj
- Ukrainian: Домовик (domovik)
- Croatian: Domaći
In Polish mythology the domovoi resembles a male head of a family, living or dead.
Traditionally, every house is said to have its own domovoi. They are usually not considered a malicious presence, as they are seen as protectors of the home, and they sometimes help with household chores. Some families even treat them as a part of the family, albeit an unseen one, leaving them gifts such as milk and cookies in the kitchen overnight.
The domovoi is responsible for maintaining peace and order, and rewards the properly run household. Peasants made sure to feed him nightly in return for being well taken care of and protected. When a new house was constructed, the Polish homeowner would attract one of the domovoi by placing a piece of bread down before the stove was put in, and the Russian one would coerce the old house's domovoi to move with the family by offering an old boot as a hiding place.
Special care was taken to make sure to only obtain pets and farm animals he liked, as the domovoi would torment the ones he didn't care for.
The domovoi also functioned as an oracle in the household, as his behavior could foretell or forewarn about the future. He would pull hair to warn a woman of danger from an abusive man. He would moan and howl to warn of coming trouble. If he showed himself, it forewarned of death, and if he was weeping it was said to be a death in the family. If he was laughing, good times could be expected, and if he strummed a comb there would be a wedding in the future.
The domovoi does have a darker side. Russian folklore dictates that a domovoi could harass horses in the stable overnight in mischief, and an unhappy domovoi is a very negative thing. If a domovoi becomes unhappy for some reason, it plays mischievous tricks on the members of the household. These pranks include moving and rattling small objects, breaking dishes, leaving muddy little footprints, and other such minor mischief. If the family can determine the cause of their domovoi's discontent, they can rectify the situation and return things to normal. If not, the spirit's tricks may escalate in intensity, coming to more closely resemble those of a poltergeist, or he may threaten to stifle people in their beds (likely a myth based on sleep paralysis). More often than not, however, families live in harmony with the spirits, and no problems are encountered.
Salted bread wrapped in a white cloth would appease this spirit, and putting clean white linen in his room was an invitation to eat a meal with the family. Hanging old shoes in the yard would make him happy as well.
The favorite place for these spirits to live is either the threshold under the door or under the stove.
- In Artemis Fowl, Domovoi is the name of Artemis's faithful bodyguard, known only as "Butler". His full name is Domovoi Butler.
- In Quest for Glory 4, a Domovoi is involved in one of the side quests needed to complete the game and was found at night in the inn.
Herbert Gottschalk: Lexicon Der Mythologie. Safari-Verlag. Berlin. 1973.