Friday, January 25, 2008

Matryoshka (nested dolls)

First matryoshka appeared in 1890 in Moscow workshop "Children Education". It was turned out of wood by Vasily Zvyozdochkin and painted by Serge Malutin. On the first doll there was a girl in a folksy dress: sarafan, apron and kerchief. The toy consisted of 8 nested dolls: the girl's image, then the boy's image and so on. The last doll was a swaddled baby.

The name Matryona was popular in those times, so the toy got the name Matryoshka. Though first matryoshkas cost a lot, they still were in the great demand. The orders for these toys came from Paris, Leipzig, etc. In the beginning of XX century the volume of matryoskas exported abroad increased dramatically.

Later maryoshka's painting became more colorful and various: shepherd playing the pipe, old men with beard and walking stick, grooms with moustache and brides in wedding dress. A lot of matryoshkas were devoted to traditional ceremonies, folklore and fairy-tales. The quantity of nested dolls increased as well. Some matryoshkas consisted of 24 dolls. In 1913 wood turner Nicholas Bulychyov achieved a record in 48 nested dolls for one matryoshka.

A wooden toy created for kids was an embodiment of Russian national character so it quickly became a traditional Russian souvenir.