The firebird is a magical bird with golden feathers and crystal eyes that appears in many Russian folk stories. Several of the tales involve young Prince Ivan, son of the tsar.
In one story, the firebird stole apples from the tsar's garden. The tsar promised his kingdom to the son who could catch the firebird. The youngest son, Ivan, found a magic gray wolf, which helped him capture the bird. While Ivan and the wolf were on their journey, they met a beautiful princess and a horse with a golden mane. When Ivan's two jealous brothers saw them, they killed Ivan and took the horse and princess for themselves. The wolf found Ivan and brought him back to life just in time to stop Ivan's older brother from marrying the princess. When their father heard the full story, he imprisoned his two evil sons and allowed Ivan to marry the princess.
In another tale, Ivan captured the firebird in a castle garden but set it free in exchange for a magic feather from the firebird. Thirteen princesses came out of the castle and told Ivan that the owner was an evil magician who turned people into stone. But Ivan, who fell in love with one of the princesses, ignored the warning and decided to face the magician and his demons. The magic feather protected Ivan, and the firebird cast a spell on the demons. When the bird showed the prince an egg that contained the magician's soul, Ivan broke the egg, killing the magician and freeing the princesses.
tsar Russian ruler
The stories inspired Russian composer Igor Stravinsky to write a ballet called The Firebird in 1910.