Currently I am working on a series of drawings depicting all sorts of water-spirits from around the world. The first two drawings I made are based upon legends concerning a gift.
I am very much intrigued by these gifts as they connect the supernatural world with the human world and I like these stories even more when it is said these objects still exist and are in someone's possesion as is the magical flute. (which I will describe later...)
Both legends I have drawn were found in a special Prague travel guide written by Pavel Rut. In this curious little work he describes several legends concerning water-spirits which are thought to haunt the city.
The chance that you would recognize one of these creatures is rather small. Pavel Rut claims that the Prague water-spirits mostly appear like old, skinny men with long, white beards and often wander around in the city. No fish-tails, green colour, sharp claws or fins are seen by the people who met these creatures. About the waternimphs he does not speak much apart from noting they must have been beautiful women.
His exact words are as follows;
"From time to time water-spirits sold bottles filled with 'still water'. He who wore such a bottle on him would not experience any damage from the river."
I imagine these bottles must have been sought after by sailors and fishermen, and perhaps by their wives as well who tried to get one of these bottles just to make sure their husbands would come back home safe.
Unfortunatley I have not succeeded to find more information about the bottles or their possesors. Nevertheless I was delighted to read the short tale. Sure I have heard about objects which would give the owner the power to control the sea, such as flutes, coins and bags containing wind, but never had I heard of so called 'still water'.
The image simply spoke to me and so I had to put it on paper, even though I did not have much more information about this mysterious water then that found in the two sentences.
Pavel Rut says: "He who receives such flute as a gift would also receive the power to calm or to bring water in movement."
The most excited thing of all is that it is known to the writer that two people must posses such magical flute.... A miller of the Soví-mills and a ferryman from Vysehrad are or were the lucky possesors.
And yes, I know... it's probably just an old flute which have been in the family for a long time and some grandfather told the little ones great stories about his adventures with the water-spirits. But let us just dream away for a moment and pretend that all of this is true and imagine how the bottoms of rivers and seas are filled with beautiful coral castles, spirits singing their songs and magical flutes and bottles with 'still water' to protect us on our journeys......
Wouldn't that be wonderful.
PS; for those who are interested, prints accompanied with story are now available at my