Almost every Russian knows what Matryoshka means. We doubt that everyone knows the origin of it. We are happy to tell the guests of our site how Matryoshkas appeared and were developed in Russia. Matryoshka is a Russian painted doll made of wood that inside has smaller similar dolls. Usually they are egg-shaped, have flat bottoms and consist of two parts – the upper and the lower ones.
Initially the common Russian name for the girl was Matryona or Matrona and its diminutive is Matryoshka. Matryona apparently comes from the Latin word for a mother, “mater”, and is associated with a symbolic meaning of fertility, as does the “egg-like” shape of the classic Russian doll. Regardless, Matryoshka was a Russian girl carrying a cockerel; she wore an apron over the traditional Russian dress, the sarafan. Seven nested dolls, inside, were depicted as her family, the smallest was a sleeping baby. The first Russian dolls were too expensive to use as toys, but quickly became popular collectables in Russia and Europe. Today, the nesting feature and general shape of the Russian doll remains, where as the painted designs have definitely moved on, anything that can be painted onto a Russian doll probably has been Matryoshka.
Some people suppose that the Russian doll was copied from a Japanese toy originating from the country’s Honshu Island. These Japanese dolls depicted a bald Buddhist figure known as Fukuruma. Stacked inside, the subsequent nested dolls depicted a progressively younger looking Fukuruma, with a beard and hair.
There is also an idea that the shape of the Russian doll was made in1890-s by the Russian turner from the town near Moscow-Podolsk whose surname was Zvyozdochkin and the first design was made by painter Malyutin. They both had never seen the Japanese dolls before that is why the Japanese origin of the Russian dolls is quite questionable.
The workshop that began manufacturing Matryoshkas was founded by Anatoly Mamontov who was the brother of a famous Russian industrialist Savva Mamontov. Anatoliy Mamontov decided to open the workshop after his wife Maria in 1900 presented a set of Matryoshkas at the exhibition in Paris where they got the bronze medal. Savva Mamontov actively promoted the renaissance of the Russian traditional and folk art and no doubt had a hand in Fukuruma’s transformation into “Matryoshka”.
We are glad to invite you to visit our beautiful city and to buy Matryoshka that will live in your family and take away bad spirits from it.0