What's in a name? Why is the Matryoshka famous? Where to buy a matryoshka? So many questions about the Russian nesting doll, and we have answers to all of them. Here's a few things to know about matryoshka russian dolls.
Basically, Russian dolls are for everybody. And each person could find a matryoshka that will be best for them. There are even nesting dolls that have the political inclination. There is a Russian doll set that features Russian tsars, while there are those that show modern politicians.
Brief History of Matryoshka Dolls
There are many stories about where the nesting doll originated. Some say it was based on Japanese traditional dolls, while some say it was a very Russian thing. The latter was based on the Russian tradition of making detachable Easter eggs.
What is quite definite is that the first Russian doll was made by Vasily Zvyozdochkin in the 1890s. The design was painted by Sergey Malyutin. The first-ever set consisted of eight dolls that are decreasing in size, allowing the smallest one to be ensconced inside the next one.
The largest doll depicted a woman with a rooster. The smallest was a baby. The inner dolls were children—five girls and one boy.
Because of the original design, Matryoshka became a popular symbol of maternity. In fact, this term originated from the Latin word mater, which means mother. That’s why matryoshka dolls have become an important symbol of motherhood and fertility.
Over the years, though, various designs have emerged. There are those that depict a family: a father painted on the largest doll and a mother on the second-largest doll. The smallest doll is, of course, the baby, while the rest are older children.
There are also political designs and religious designs. Some makers of Russian stacking dolls have also capitalized on the popularity of the product by allowing customers to order custom-made dolls. This would be dolls that show off their own family.
Some have also taken to naming the doll as a babushka doll. This is mostly from non-Russian people. One reason for that is the difficulty in saying or even spelling Matryoshka. Incidentally, Babushka means grandmother in the Russian language. So it really isn’t that far off.
How Are the Russian Dolls Made? A Quick Explanation
It is quite interesting to note that nested dolls are made of wood. It takes a lot of skills involved considering that the inside has to be hollow to accommodate the smaller dolls. The dolls are usually made of alder, aspen, birch, or linden. The last one is the most popular raw material.
There is also a science to its creation. For example, the trees that will be used to create the nesting doll have to be felled in early spring.
This is because the tree will have an abundance of sap. There is also a strict process to adhere to when it comes to stripping the logs off its bark and even their arrangement during storage.
The logs have to be stored for at least two years. Only a master craftsman will know if the log is ready to be made into a nesting doll. It will then be cut into pieces appropriate for nesting dolls. A turning lathe will be used to form the dolls. A chisel and knife will help to perfect the form.
The smallest piece will be made first as it is the easiest one because it will not be taken apart. The larger pieces will also be based on the size of the smallest one. The next sizes will then be made more meticulously because they have to be hollowed. As many as 30 dolls can be made in one set. The minimum set is composed of three dolls.
The interesting part about the making of the Russian nesting dolls is that they don’t usually follow measurements. Craftsmen usually use intuition and estimation. After the turning process, white dolls emerge ready for painting.
First, they have to be thoroughly cleaned. Then a starchy glue primer will be applied to smoothen the surface for easy painting. The primer also prevents drying up possible smudges during painting.
Now it is definitely ready for painting. When the designer is done and the paint is dry, the dolls will be varnished for a beautiful finish.
Who Buys Nesting Dolls?
For one, Matryoshka dolls are really beautiful to look at. There are also many designs to choose from so the market is quite huge and varied for this thing.
Here are the people who will most likely buy these dolls:
Russian dolls are beautiful, first of all. So they are really great decorative pieces. There are also many designs so homeowners are bound to find something that will fit their interiors. Plus, some Russian dolls are large. These will be great decorative floor pieces. For smaller ones, they would be good for cabinets and other repositories.
Adventurous people who love to travel to different countries need to buy a nesting doll when they drop by Russia. This is the perfect souvenir from this country. Some prefer buying keychains or refrigerator magnets as souvenirs. But when in Russia, Matryoshka nested dolls are the perfect remembrance of the country.
As earlier mentioned, nesting dolls are a symbol of femininity and motherhood. Russian dolls are actually great gifts to mothers or even mothers-to-be. If you happen to be stumped about what to give your mother on her birthday, on Christmas or during Mother’s Day, then a nesting doll will do the trick. If you are attending a baby shower and you want to give a unique gift, this will be it. Besides, other guests will be giving diapers and baby clothes and toys; this way, you will have something that will be both for the mother and daughter.
Russian dolls are actually fun toys and children love them! It’s so fun to actually buy a nesting doll toy for children and allow them to open it and you just keep saying: and there’s more! It’s like the gift that keeps on giving.
There is no typical age group that will enjoy nesting dolls - everybody does, actually. Even adults are fond of Matryoshka, so however old your kid is, they will definitely enjoy this toy. Of course, you have to find a character that your child will most likely enjoy. Just make sure that children below three years old have the bigger Russian dolls because the smallest one could be a choking hazard.
Some nesting dolls even have a landscape theme, doing away with drawings of people. This kind is also a hit. There are just so many things you can put on a nesting doll. The possibilities are endless. As a buyer, the choices are endless, too. And there is almost something that is perfect for every person in the family. While it is a Russian product, Matryoshka dolls are definitely for everybody.