They represent motherhood and continuation of life.
There is a wonderful and rich history involved in the Russian Matryoshka nesting dolls. The idea of carving nesting dolls originated as a tribute to motherhood and honors the idea of women and families.
The largest doll houses all the others showing that there is life within each one and the whole life lies ahead of the littlest one. They embody the continuation of life, the oval shape being symbolic of the egg. With mother’s day just around the corner, it is the perfect time to think about presenting that special person in your life with a set of nesting dolls.
There are dolls for all occasions.
The original doll sets were usually of the first doll being the mother, then the children were the smaller dolls in sizes that became gradually smaller until the smallest, the baby was the last one. Each doll fit inside the mother representing fertility and motherhood. But the dolls have branched out and now come in an assortment of designs which have begun to encompass other ethnicities besides Russian and other ideas besides motherhood and family.
This lovely set is hand painted with Easter designs and would make a delightful gift for some child on Easter Sunday and an even more meaningful gift as it is passed down from one generation to the next.
This selection is titled “Bird Lover”. See all the birds the artist carefully painted on three of the dolls. There are 5 dolls with the largest measuring 6 inches in height. Notice this one does not represent motherhood or family in the traditional sense of the word but is a popular selection for Christmas. It may not be in keeping with original symbolism but is still in keeping with the high level of craftsmanship.
Smiling ghosts, witches, pumpkins, and cats adorn these dolls. There is definitely a spirit of fun and Halloween. This set would make an ideal Halloween or fall display.
There is a set created for every occasion and they are all sure to delight both the giver and the recipient.
Nesting dolls became popular after they were placed on display at the impressive Museum of Russian and Foreign Toys.
We think nesting toys were first started by Russian monks who created nesting toys of apples or eggs with intricate designs painted on them. They would sell them to bring in revenue for the monastery. The same painstaking attention to detail was employed by the craftsmen who later created the nesting dolls. As few as three or as many as several dozen have been created for one set. The more dolls in the set the more difficulty in managing to get them to all fit inside one another and lastly inside the doll which houses them all. Generally the dolls consist of odd numbers but Zvyodocin’s original set consisted of 8. One of the most remarkable displays found was on display at the distinctive Museum of Russian and Foreign Toys in 1918 in Sergiev Posad. It contained 60 pieces and was considered to be the largest collection of Sergiev Posad so why not house it in the world’s largest and most famous museum?
Crafting nesting dolls requires creative genius and science.
The original set created by Vasily Zvyodochkin in 1890 was hand carved from a soft wood similar to Linden or Birch. The design was inspired by Sergey Malyutin who was a folk’s craft painter in the Abramtsevo estate of Sawa Momontov. A craftsperson has to be highly skilled and able to calculate sizes down to a fine mathematical discipline so that each doll can comfortably fit within the other. Each doll needs to go through up to 15 hand turns while it is fashioned from soft wood. Keeping the interest alive is important or this beautiful art and tradition may die.
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