culture

Matrioshka… Doll story turned into Russian folk culture

Matrioshka… Doll story turned into Russian folk culture

Many are known as overlapping Russian dolls “Matriushka” (Russian: Матрёшка), also known as “Russian nesting doll.” These oval-shaped dolls are divided into two detachable upper and lower parts and have other dolls that often have the same shape, but a smaller size.

Basically, these dolls paint a picture of a rural Russian woman wearing a “flap” and a headscarf, and may also take hundreds of exterior designs and drawings, but they remain several overlapping dolls. But what is the story of making these overlapping Russian dolls, and what is the secret of their fame?

The genesis of overlapping Russian dolls
Basically, the Matriushka doll was designed as a children’s toy, but over time it became something rooted in Russian culture. There are many sources that speak of the origin and genesis of these puppets, one of which states that Matriushka appeared in Moscow in 1898, during teaching classes for the children of the Mamuntoff family, a wealthy Russian family that gained its wealth from railway construction.

Craftsman Vasily Zvezduchka and artist Sergei Maliutin are believed to have designed the first prototype of the game used in these children’s classes, then consisting of 8 overlapping dolls, as explained by Vera Polyakova, curator of the exhibition at the Moscow Museum of Art and Game Pedagogy, speaking with the English version of Turkey’s “An”.

Matriushka’s first doll depicted a Russian girl wearing a sun dress, napkin or headscarf, while holding Decca, with other puppets in the shape of peasant children. It is widely believed that Russian artist Maliutin made this game along the lines of a doll that was made on the Japanese island of Honshu in the form of a wise, bald old Buddhist monk, brought to sell at the Mamuntof toy store in Moscow, as noted by Bridge to Moscow. Bridge to Moscow specializes in providing information about Russia in English, but other Russian sources suggest that the Russian artist did not quote the idea but started it himself.

The game was called “Matriona,” a name derived from the Latin root of the word “mother,” but people considered this label inappropriate, so they started using a micro-name for the mother, which is “Matrioshka” circulating to date.

This beginning of the game and being a children’s educational game is still in place. Some educators consider it a good way to help children learn different colors, sizes and shapes. Thanks to its varying sizes, children can be taught the difference between large and small and medium.

Dina Mohammed, a professor of Russian literature at the Alsun Faculty of Ain Shams University in Egypt, noted another tendency for these puppets to arise in her article on the Russian radio site “Sputnik”. Another view is that the puppet’s genesis was a quote from some Russian artists for detachable hollow Easter eggs and, in her article, she also drew to another folkloric story, namely the association of dolls with a pagan fetish statue made of wood in the shape of a woman. Inside it was a small sculpture representing her grandson, worshipped by Old Aleppo s Rights “, a term that the first Arabs and Muslims used to call Slavic peoples, They were settled in Eurasia and spread to central, eastern and south-eastern Europe.

Global spread of matrioshka dolls

Matrioshka is a Russian culture symbol and is usually made from zeisphone wood or sandals (Getty Images)
Matrioshka is a Russian culture symbol and is usually made from zeisphone wood or sandals (Getty Images)


Matriushka puppets began to spread more widely than the capital, moving from Moscow to the city of Sargayev Posad about 75 kilometres north-east, where local craftsmen continued to mimic the puppet industry and later became the hub of its industry.

The puppet began to spread globally and gained real prominence at the beginning of the twentieth century, when it was exhibited at a world exhibition in Paris in 1904, and became a small symbol referring to Russia or Russian culture, and its industry has spread and diversified since its departure from Russia to the world, specifically the world’s exhibitions.

During this period, puppets began to take diverse forms and designs, designing puppets with images of famous political figures in Russia, such as former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, the second Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, the leader of the Bolshevik Party, the Bolshevik Revolution and the first Soviet President Vladimir Lenin.

It also took the form of famous characters, and was decorated to reflect literary works or famous historical events. For example, in 1912, during the centenary of the French invasion of Russia, two special puppets representing Napoleon and his opponent were made on the battlefield of Russian Marshal Mikhail Kotozov, and during the centenary of the birth of Russian classical writer Nikolai Gogol, puppets bearing his image and other literary photographs were made, so that the puppet became linked in one way to Russia.

Also, in the early 20th century, artists tried to design the doll in non-oval forms, designing cone-shaped dolls or helmet-shaped puppets, and made puppets on images of various ethnic and national groups in their traditional clothes. But over time, some craftsmen returned to Ms. Matriushka’s traditional image.

Matrioshka puppet industry


The doll, which has become a symbol of Russian culture, is usually made from zesphone wood or sandals, and is decorated with oil and water colors. But it is important that the doll and the dolls inside it are made of the same type of wood, and decorate with the same colors, as each type of wood interacts in a different way with moisture conditions, temperatures and colors.

There are specialists in detailed matters in these dolls and in the development of their industry, as Elena Kalyonova, who teaches at the first Moscow School of Arts and Crafts of the Anadolu Agency, stated that telea is the best wood for making.

Detailed specialists are found in these puppets and to develop their industry. Elena Kalyonova, who teaches at the first Moscow School of Arts and Crafts of the Anadolu Agency, stated that telea is the best wood to make the puppet, because it is clean and smooth, with a few branches, making it ideal for making puppets of varied sizes.

The art study noted the use of birch wood to make the doll during the Soviet era, because of the lack of telea trees at the time, but birch trees are stiffer, and the color is warmer, so it can be a natural doll face color without having to be colored, unlike other timbers that may need to cover the face with a white dye or glue that the doll first drinks before painting on it.

It is necessary to wait for this introductory color to dry before drawing, during which the artists mark the middle of each doll to match the center of all other shapes, and then start painting and decorating, either directly or with a pencil to determine the shapes and then coloring them. After this stage, the dolls are painted “lacquer” to give them brightness and shiny appearance. therefore; The average doll industry can take from 1.5 hours to 3 hours in total, depending on the size, shape and complexity of the design.

Since we are talking about the exciting information about this game, you may be impressed to know that Matrioshka’s largest manufactured puppet number is 72, displayed at the Tokyo Exhibition in 1970.

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