Monday, July 27, 2009

“N” is for Nesting Dolls

I know we’ve previously discussed by love for these wonderful little guys….but they are worthy of a second mention. In Russia nesting dolls are called “Matryoshkas” The word Matryoshkas are from the old Russian female name of “Matryona” which is Latin for mother. The dolls are a symbol of femininity and fertility.
I think I like them because it’s the wonderful idea of opening a gift to find another gift tucked inside….and another….and another.
I have seen giant dolls that have close to 25 pieces tucked inside. Most of the dolls have at least 5 and a minimum of 3. (Two dolls don’t really nest, they just hang out together, really…) The first doll is customarily a woman and the dolls inside can be of any gender. The final doll is the “baby” and it doesn’t open. In one of my sets, the baby is smaller than an apple seed! Let me tell you…dusting is always a challenge with nesting dolls. That’s one of the reasons why I’ve given up dusting.
Matryoshkas date from 1890, I think the wooden ones were the common folks answer to the elaborate Faberge egg some say they were inspired by a Japanese design. The first dolls (pictured on the left) were carved by Vasiliy Zvezdochkin and painted by Sergei Maliutin at the Children’s Education Workshop in Abramtsevo. In 1900, the wife of Savva Mamontov, displayed the dolls at the World Fair in Paris and the toy earned a bronze medal. A fad was born! And I’m so glad- I love those things!
Matryoshkas follow a theme. Some are fun, some are odd. Some feature animals, landscapes, or some even depict political leaders. I favor the elaborate fancy ones with a unique picture on each doll (of course those are the REALLY expensive ones!) You can often see the Russian political dolls too. Newer versions start with Dmitry Medvedev and then follow with Vladimir Putin, Boris Yeltsin, Mikhail Gorbachev, Joseph Stalin and then Vladimir Lenin.
I’ve found some favorites for you to take a peak at! When I pack my bags for Russia I am going to go back and read this blog to remind me to save PLENTY of room in my suitcase for nesting dolls!

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