The history of Matryoshka is not that long.
It has just celebrated 110 years old birthday. But this colourful
girl has managed to conquer hearts of the people all over the
world. Whoever comes back from Russia brings this nesting doll,
which embodies Russian culture.
first Russian nesting doll (matryoshka) was born in 1890 in
the workshop "Children's Education" situated in
Abramtsevo estate near Moscow. The owner of Abramtsevo was
Savva Mamontov - an industrialist and a patron of the arts.
Many famous Russian artists worked along with folk craftsmen
in workshops of Mamontov.
Matryoshka came to Russia from Japan. There was a legend that
the first doll of such type on Island Honshu was made by an
unknown Russian monk.
Russian wooden doll within smaller dolls were
called matryoshka. The name Matryona or Matriosha was a very
popular female name in Old Russia among peasants. Scholars
say this name has got a Latin root "mater" and means
Subsequently, Matriosha became a symbolic name
and was used specially to name brightly painted wooden figurines
made in such a way that they could be taken apart to reveal
smaller dolls fitting inside one another.
The most famous matryoshkas were from Sergiev
Posad, Semionovo, Polkhovsky Maidan and Vjatka. All these
nesting dolls have their own peculiarity and beauty.
Traditional Sergiev Posad matryoshka consists
of from 2 to 24 pieces. Their faces were oval and strict.
The heads of many matryoshkas were greatly enlarged that's
why a face dominated a body.
Professional artists made the first painted matryoshkas just
for fun. That is why these dolls are so expressive and won
admiration of adults and children. In the initial period of
matryoshka development particular attention was paid to faces
of the matryoshka, but clothes were not painted in details.
Such dolls depicted different characters and types: peasants,
merchants and noblemen.
Folk art tradition was very important in the
development of the present Sergiev Posad style. Due to widest
layer of folk culture, matryoshka continued to exist even
later, after Russian style developed by Russian professional
artists was forgotten.
The first matryoshka in Semionovo was made
by Arsenty Mayorov, who brought an unpainted nesting doll
from the fair in Nizhniy Novgorod and his elder daughter Liuba
painted it using an ordinary goose feather and aniline dyes.
Semionovskay matryoshka was more decorative
and symbolic than the matryoshka from Sergiev Posad. This
nesting doll is famous for containing many pieces from 2 to
72. An apron is considered to be the main thing in painting
of Semionovo. A bright bouquet of flowers is painted on it.
It is possible to recognize the technique of old Russian masters.
The early matryoshkas of Semionovo were more in the spirit
of old Russian painting traditions, the lines were more graphic
In the 80-s artists from Semionovo developed
new types of matryoshkas. Artist Serov designed a new matryoshka
"The Father Frost and Snegurotchka". This matryoshka
was designed in such a way that children could learn to count:
inside a big "mother" 10 small were hidden.
Polkhovsky-Maidan is a motherland of another
style of matryoshka. The first matryoshka was made in Polkhovsky
Maidan in 1930-s, the colours of matryoshkas are brighter
and more expressive than the colours of Semionovo matryoshkas,
their ornaments are bigger as well.
The matryoshkas of Polkhovsky Maidan are manufactured
in the peasant primitive style, which resembles children's
drawings. It is a typical village beauty with knitted brows
and a face framed in black locks. The ringlets of hair are
a genuine element of local women's headdress.
The most northern of all Russian matryoshkas
is the one which come from Vjatka. It is also the" youngest
"- they began producing nesting dolls in Vjatka only
in 30 s. Being a typical northerner this matryoshka is blue-eyed
and shy. Its most distinctive feature is rye straw inlay stuck
on wet lacquer.
Russian epos as a source of themes is very
popular with matryoshka makers now.
Among the ornament themes there are scenes of folk outdoor
fetes, fairs, religion, an original Russian large family affecting
relationship of children and animals. There are also merchant
and high life motifs. Russian history is reflected in the
authors ' matryoshka.
At present days authors of matryoshka also take use of the
themes of Russian and European paintings, landscape painting
and still-life. All this allows us to view the art of making
matryoshka as an independent branch of Russian art with a