If you go to Russia, you will probably bring back a wooden doll called a matryoshka for someone you know, possibly you! This doll is one of Russia’s most famous symbols. Matryoshka, also known as Babushka, has become a legend of Russia. The word, “matryoshka” is derived from the name “matryona”, which means, a respectable woman or a mother. The matryoshka are wooden nesting dolls. The largest doll has another doll inside it, which has another doll inside it, and so on. Traditionally, there are no less than five dolls, but can be many more. This is considered the oldest wooden craft in Russia.
Russian matryoshka dolls first appeared in 1890 in Moscow. The doll was made by craftsman Vasily Zvyozdochkin, and artist Sergey Malyutin. In 1900, the doll was exhibited at the Universal Exhibition in Paris and earned a bronze medal. In the mid-1930s, the first matryoshka factory was built in Russia, causing the matryoshka to become one of the most popular Russian souvenirs. This may also be because the matryoshka is a symbol of prosperity for the majority of Russian society. The best place to buy matryoshka are in areas known for their matryoshka doll craftsmen, such as the town of Semyonov, Nizhegorod region (mainly rural Polkhovsky Maidan and Krutets), and Tver regions.
The unique thing about this doll is in the process of making it, namely how the dolls are sculpted and painted. Matryoshka dolls typically feature the image of happy, fat women, wearing traditional Russian clothing. Typically, the smallest doll is made first, then the next size, and so on until a set of matryoshka is completed. A set usually consists of five to seven pieces. The largest Matryoshka dolls on record had 72 pieces.
The matryoshka craft is still growing. One of the most interesting is when Russia entered the perestroika period. The matryoshka craftsmen started making dolls with figures of Russian leaders, ranging from Mikhail Gorbachev, Yuri Andropov, and Konstantin Chernenko, to Joseph Stalin, and Vladimir Lenin.
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