Matrioshkas: The origin of Russian dolls | Russian Lover Site

Matrioshkas: The origin of Russian dolls


It is difficult to find someone in the world who does not know the famous Russian wooden dolls that inside are continuously keeping another doll of similar appearance or related to the same subject.

These are the famous Matrioshkas dolls, as Russian as the Moscow Kremlin or Cheburashka

What is the story of Russian Matrioshkas dolls?

Regarding the term Matrioshka, the same is a Russian word attributed to the diminutive of matriona or respectable lady, so that over time it has become equivalent to mother or motherhood.

In Latin American countries they are also known as Mamushkas dolls, which is a mixture between the term matriona and babuska (from Russian, grandmother)

Errors when writing Matrioshka in Spanish: matroshka, matrioska, matryoshka, matroska, matreshka etc ... They would not be correct terms in Spanish.

But this is more a curiosity, in any case they can always be called Russian dolls and so there is no mistake.

matrioshka dolls
Matrioshka doll composed of 5 pieces

What is the origin of Matrioshkas dolls?

The origin of the Matrioshkas dolls it gets lost in the way that is naturally built between legend and history through time.

Although there are no documents to support this hypothesis, it is believed that the Russian female figures contained in these handmade pieces they were not born in Russia, but in Japan at the end of the 19th century.

So the matrioshka dolls would have an oriental origin.

However, the idea of ​​a sequence of similar figures contained in others, if it is typical of Russia at that time, being evidence of that the famous Fabergé egg, first created in 1885.

In any case it is attributed to a Russian painter, Sergei Maliutin, the creation of the first dolls of this type in Russia, being inspired by a set of Japanese wooden dolls representing the seven gods of fortune or Shichi fukujin and which were taken to Russia by Savva Mamontov, a Russian patron of the time.

The Matrioshka are a product imported to Russia.

But certainly, the first Matrioshkas certified as part of the Russian culture date of 1900 when they were presented during the Universal Exhibition of Paris.

In this exhibition the dolls worn by MA Mamontova (wife of Savva Mamontov) they won bronze medal and from there their popularity began.

The first matrioskas elaborated by Maliutin had the image of a peasant girl in the typical Russian costume (sarafan) consisting of an apron, headscarf and a rooster under her arm.

At first it was a toy made up of 8 figures between which the female and male figures alternated, and the last one was a baby.

handmade matrioshka dolls
Detail of the last figurine located inside the doll Matrioshka

The construction of Matrioshkas dolls is part of a very interesting and particular process

These dolls that are part of the Russian culture shows handmade pieces Built of larch, linden, aspen or any other noble wood.

The trees from which this wood comes are felled at the beginning of spring and put to dry for 2 or 3 years to be later turned.

The master craftsman selects the wood very carefully, making sure that it does not have knots or slits.

First the inner one is made, which is made of solid wood and subsequently the dolls are built consecutively that will be superimposed on one another.

The turning of the wood is an arduous process because the dolls are not measured, but the one that goes above is built according to the volume of the above.

However, if the artistic work of wood involves a lot of virtuosity, the process of painting the dolls is not far behind.

In fact, before these dolls were highly valued according to the work with wood, however, nowadays it is their painting that occupies the most attention of collectors.

The painting techniques of these Russian artistic pieces vary, since both oil painting and watercolors, gouache or tempera are used.

Likewise, the reasons have been changing, as well as the representation of female figures (like Russian mothers with striking ornaments) has now gone from political leaders to cosmonauts represented in these famous dolls.

Example of matrioshka dolls
Figurines matrioshka to discover in a set of 9 pieces

The Matrioshkas dolls as an artistic expression

There is a museum in Moscow that houses a wonderful collection of these dolls and shows how they represent an important part of the Russian culture. This is the Russian Museum of Decorative and Applied Arts.

This museum is in operation from 1991 and houses the most outstanding manual creations that Russian artisans have made from the 16th century to the present.

Another of the museums that also pay tribute to these important handmade pieces Russian is the Museum of Russian Folk Toy, where children, following the instructions of teachers in the making of these beautiful dolls, can paint them themselves and take it as a souvenir.

Record Guinness also includes Matrioshkas dolls. Specifically, the largest game of them includes 51 hand-painted pieces by the Russian Youlia Bereznitskaia, culminated in the 25 of April of 2003.

In short, every time you see any of these famous dolls remember that they not only represent family love but also the industriousness and creativity of the Russian people.

Where to buy Russian Matrioshka dolls?

The most advisable is Travel to Russia to buy the authentic handmade Russian Matrioshka dolls that are sold in street markets.

In Moscow, you can go to the famous market in the White Kremlin. There you will find all the types of Matrioshka there are and at the best price.

You can buy a Matrioshka doll and other related products without having to catch the plane:

sale of matrioshka dolls
Matrioshka dolls exposed in a market
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