‘The Dwelling’ is one of the most mysterious animal tales in the Russian folklore…at least for me. This is a short story about forest animals who tried to build their own community dwelling peacefully in a huge horse skull until the bear-destroyer crushed all of them.
This plot has numerous interpretations: an animal hierarchy (a mouse-a frog-a hare – a fox – a wolf and a bear-destroyer) is comprehended as a society consisted from various groups or as stages of a personal development, while the dwelling is meant as the world or the univese in the process of growing. Personally I like the interpretation where the dwelling is explained as an allegory of a free peaceful society which animals try to build. Before the bear appearing all of them live happily together, help each other and at the same time fulfil their own duties. The allegory of Bear might be understood as death or a radical change that sooner or later interferes into this pretty paradise.
In some regions of Russia the horse skull was exchanged with a pot, while the Soviet version exchanged both of them with a wooden cottage. I believe that the original version represents the fairy-tale deeper as the horse skull is also a sort of a temple, connecting the live and the death, so it is no coincidence that the mouse chooses it for dwelling.
Here is the ful text:Russian Fairy Tale 2
The Source: “Сказки: Теремок, Мизгирь” изд. И.Кнебель, Москва, 1910