Russian Dolls: Matryoshka (Матрёшка)
Souvenir shops in
Moscow, Saint Petersburg and other Russian cities are hard to pass
by when you see these beautiful smiling dolls adorned in golden
robes and intricately painted shawls. The legend says that the first
Russian Matryoshka or Matrioshka was created as a prototype of a similar Japanese
doll, which consists of several nested figures. However, the
creation of Russian Matryoshka was aided by the Russian tradition of
whetting and painting on wooden eggs for Easter.
The variety of
dresses and characters of Matryoshka dolls is hard to describe.
Thanks to the increasing numbers of tourists, who started coming to
Russia at the end of 1980-s, Matryoshka has become a popular crafted
work again, which is extremely popular on the market and brings a
good income to its makers. A more traditional doll will most likely
depict a young girl in a shawl, a colorful apron and a Russian
dress, sarafan. With a closer look at the dolls one can see the
brave combinations of colors, abundance of details, lack of the
sense of proportion and an extraordinary festive mood that these
dolls bring with them. However, even though the demand for
traditional Russian dolls is still high, it has increased for dolls
that have a more unusual design, depict celebrities or political
The most valuable
dolls are those that are painted and crafted by individual authors.
The high quality of Matryoshka dolls is achieved by applying old
traditions of careful and professional work on every stage. It
requires good skills in whetting, polishing, painting and
Whenever you buy a
Matryoshka, make sure that it is of high quality. Here are some tips
on how to choose a good Russian doll:
- Before buying it,
open Matryoshka and close it to make sure that the top of the doll
(its head) fits firmly and securely on the bottom and forms no ridge
at the junction. Do not buy it if it fits too tightly, as it may
crack over time. Do not buy it if it is too loose, as the dolls may
accidentally fall out and break.
- Explore the
surface and make sure there are no soft spots, as some defects
inherent in the wood, such as knots, cracks and chips, are sometimes
sealed with paper or clay, and can later reveal themselves if the
doll is stored in a moist place.
- Make sure there
are no cracks in the lacquer coating on the junction between the top
and the bottom parts, as it may lead to further damage over time.
Matryoshka makes one of the best
and most unique souvenirs from Russia. They stand for the beauty,
variety and warm spirit of Russian women, who inspire Russian
artists to create these unique dolls.