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Nesting Doll Named Matryoshka
June 28, 2007 17:09


 
The nesting dolls, known as “matryoshki” have long conquered hearts of lovers of folk toys and original souvenirs all over the world. Matryoshka brings together the art of masters and enormous love of the Russian national culture.
How did the first Matryoshka appear?
The first matryoshka, that customary round-faced and plump girl wearing a kerchief and a Russian folk dress came into the world not at all in the days of hoary antiquity. The creation of this doll was prompted by the figurine of the Buddhist sage named Fukuruma that was brought to Abramtsevo Estate in the late 19th century from Honshu Island, Japan. As a story says a Russian monk once living in the Japanese island first started to cut such figurines. Inspired by the charming doll of the wooden sage with an oblong bald head and a good-humoured face, the toy turner Vasili Zvyozdochkin turned the first Russian matryoshka.

A gouache painted ruddy-faced wooden beauty girl with a rooster in her hands came out of the workshop Children’s Upbringing founded by the patron of arts Savva Mamontov. The first matryoshka was painted by the artists Sergei Malyutin. It was eight-seater, i.e. consisted of eight nesting dolls: inside of the big girl there was a smaller boy, and so on, the boys and girls alternating till the smallest, “indivisible” part, a swaddled baby.
 

Where does the name Matryoshka come from?  What is the origin of this strange name? Some historians claim that the word comes from the popular Russian name Masha, or Manya, others relate it to the name Matryona (from the Latin “mater” denoting “mother”), or to the Hindu mother goddess Matri. Another version suggests the name means “mat’ tryoshki”, that is “mother of the three” (as translated from Russian), since initially one big Japanese doll nested three similar small dolls.

Matryoshka rush

In the late 19th century Russia experienced upsurge of interest in its history, folk arts, fairy-tales, epics and crafts. Matryoshka became widely known and gained unanimous love of the people.

Matryoshkas painted with flowery ornaments were soon followed by nesting dolls decorated with fairy tale and epic subjects. Such matryoshkas would “tell” whole stories. In 1900 matryoshkas “walked” as far as Paris: they were exhibited at the World Exhibition that resulted in their taking a medal and international praising. By the way, in the early 20th century some nesting dolls really “learnt” walking: the feet of such a matryoshka wearing lapti (bast shoes) are movable, and it can walk on an inclined plane.

 What are they made of?
The principles of making matryoshkas have not changed for many years that they have existed. Russian nesting dolls are made of well-dried linden or birch wood. The smallest, indivisible matryoshka, which can be just as tiny as a rice grain, is always made first. The turning of nesting dolls is delicate art that is learned for many years; some masters can even turn matroshkas while keeping eyes closed.

Before painting the dolls they are grounded, and after painting they are varnished. In the 19th century matryoshkas were painted with gouache, whereas nowadays unique images are created with the help of aniline, tempera and even watercolours. Nevertheless, gouache remains popular with matryoshka artists. First of all they paint the doll’s face and apron with a picturesque image, and then the sarafan with kerchief.

 Matryoshka places

There are a number of Russian towns and settlements were matryoshkas are traditionally made; Sergiev Posad is the most famous of them. Everywhere they have peculiarities of their own. There are also a few museums. The first and the most illustrious Museum of Matryoshka is situated in Moscow (Leontyevsky Sidestreet, 7/1).

Today one can buy various souvenirs to any taste in the streets of St. Petersburg and Moscow; there are nesting dolls depicting politicians, famous musicians, grotesque personages, and what not… Yet perhaps the most charming matryoshkas are those traditionally featuring merry Russian girls wearing bright folk costumes.

Sourcesdollplanet.ru   ma333.narod.ru  milorden.ru

    Photos:

     luch.tver.ru
    dollplanet.ru
    rustoys.ru
    matreshka.art-by.ru

 


Tags: Russian Arts and Crafts Russian Souvenirs Matryoshka   

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