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The Matryoshka doll.

Russian nesting dolls
When one thinks of Russia, the images that usually come to mind are bears, vodka, and the iconic yellow hammer and sickle on blood-red background motif. However, it is nesting dolls that have become one of the most recognizable symbols of Russia.

In fact, a matryoshka can rightfully be called a true cultural phenomenon, full of visible, as well as clandestine meanings and remarkable in its uniqueness. Nesting dolls are found in countless collections, belonging to true art connoisseurs, as their tremendous potential for conveying deep meanings of multitudes of events, happening both in time and in space, answers the most important aspect, or essence, of true art.

Our website offers classic, as well as modern, or unusual matryoshka dolls for every taste and budget to make it easy and convenient to get that perfect traditional regular or handmade nesting doll, to the delight of every one of your friends and family, adding to the glory of this truly Russian souvenir!

  • Short history of Nesting Dolls
The very first Russian matryoshka doll set was carved in 1890 by Vasily Zvyozdochkin and hand painted by Sergey Malutin in the workshop, called "Children's Education," located in the Abramtsevo estate, outside Moscow. The owner of Abramtsevo was Savva Mamontov – an industrialist who was a notable patron of the arts. During the end of the 19th century, Russia experienced a zenith in the arts that was backed by the nobility, rich businessmen, and landowners. Mr. Mamontov was no exception. Savva Mamontov's wife presented the dolls at the 1900 Exposition Universalle in France, where the nesting doll earned the bronze medal. This promptly made the world fall in love with these cute, bubbly doll stacks, turning them into the archetype of The Russian gift.

  • What is the meaning of a Russian doll?
But why the name matryoshka? The word matryoshka is based on the Russian name of Matryona
(or Matryosha), which was one of the most popular female names if the 19th century Russia, emphasizing the fact that this doll represents all Russia women. At a deeper level, for many, 
this name came to symbolize motherhood, fertility, and warm care, as at the root of the name Matryona, lies the Latin word “mater,” or mother.

Finally, even the shape of this doll conveys the feeling of motherly love and safety, as it did for thousands of years, at least as far back as 26,000 years, which is evident by such archaeological discoveries as Venus of Willendorf, found in Austria, which exhibits the same general form of a very shapely female figure. It is of no surprise then, that in the most common nesting doll sets, the largest doll represents the mother and the smaller matryoshkas represent her children, portraying the typical Russian family, coming to symbolize, at the same time, some of the oldest human social structures – the closely-knit, compact, and interdependent organization of a family.

  • What are the russian dolls called? - Babushka doll
Sometimes matryoshka is called – babushka! In Russian, the word "babushka" means "grandmother." The reason for that is that babushka is the ultimate mom! Not only does she live to make grandchildren happy, but babushka is a mother of mom who also has a mom and babushka on her own. A babushka doll (Russian nesting doll) – is not just a cute doll with a fancy name, but it also educates us where we come from and where we are going. A girl becomes a mom, a babushka, a grand babushka, and it goes on forever. Russian Dolls give us a reminder never to forget these ties between generations.

Babushka doll with a character
Through the years, nesting dolls have evolved 
to become a form of amazing folk art and a metaphorical representation of a multitude of other themes and motifs in 
Russian history and culture. 
As the production of nesting dolls spread across Russia, 
so did the styles that were used by artists to paint their dolls. 
The eventual range in styles included the famous in its own right, white and blue porcelain designs, the world renowned Pavlovo Posad shawl and Russian scarf designs, as well as caricatures of Russian families belonging to varying socio-economic classes such as peasants, nobles, merchants, farmers and laborers – people from all walks of life.

The nesting dolls also portrayed notable figures such as the Imperial Family, boyars and their families, politicians, celebrities, musicians and other such acclaimed political and cultural personages.

  • Matryoshka dolls - a unique form of wood art
Although the artistic design and popularity of Russian stacking dolls has greatly evolved through the decades, the methods that are used to produce them haven't changed at all since 1890. 
The process of making the dolls is very meticulous itself, and greatly relies on the wood turning skills of Russian craftsmen. Nesting dolls are usually made from oak or birch wooden blocks. Timber that is used to manufacture nesting dolls is cut down and stripped completely of its bark and stacked in piles in order to allow for air flow and proper conditioning of the wood. 
Once the craftsman determines that the wood is ready to be cut, the logs are then sawn into planks.

The wood is then turned about 15 times in the hands of a turner before becoming a finished doll. At that stage, the blank nesting dolls are 
hand-painted by specially trained artists with the brightest colors and the highest attention to detail. Due to the high amount of precision and the complexity of design that go into making babushka dolls, machines cannot be used at any stage of the process. In fact, it is the hard work, craftsmanship, and effort of both the artist and the wood carver that, through a process of almost magical metamorphosis, for over 100 years have come together to turn rough blocks of wood into the uniquely beautiful works of art, recognized the world over.

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