Sadko in the Underwater Kingdom

Ilya Repin (Russian, 1844-1930) “Sadko in the Underwater Kingdom”

Sadko (Russian: Садко) is the principal character in the East Slavic epic Bylina. He was an adventurer, merchant, and gusli musician from Novgorod.

Sadko played the gusli on the shores of a lake. The Sea Tsar enjoyed his music, and offered to help him. Sadko was instructed to make a bet with the local merchants about catching a certain fish in the lake; when he caught it (as provided by the Tsar), the merchants had to pay the wager, making Sadko rich.

Sadko traded on the seas with his new wealth but did not pay proper respects to the Tsar, as per their agreement, so the Tsar stopped Sadko’s ships in the sea. Sadko and his sailors tried to appease the Sea Tsar with gold, but to no avail, so to secure their return, Sadko’s crew forced him to jump into the sea.

There, he played the gusli for the Sea Tsar, who offered him a new bride, a mermaid named Chernava, the last of of 900 mermaids, and Sadko lay down beside her.

He woke up on the shore of the river Chernava and rejoined his wife. [Wikipedia]