Matryoshka dolls, also known as Russian nesting dolls, are a set of several wooden dolls of decreasing sizes that one by one fit inside of each other. Each stacking doll splits in half at the mid section and opens to reveal another smaller doll nested within. The traditional Matryoshka doll is usually round in shape and decoratively painted to resemble a pretty young faced peasant woman dressed or bundled up in an extravagant sarafan costume, a loose fitting traditional Russian garment.
The name “”matryoshka”” literally means “”little matron””, it comes from the Latin word for mother. The dolls often follow a theme, these themes may vary, from Russian fairy tale characters to Soviet leaders. In the west, Matryoshka dolls are often erroneously referred to as “”babushka”, which means “”grandmother”” or “”old woman””.
The first Russian nesting doll set was carved in 1890 at the Children’s Education Workshop, which purpose was to make and sell children’s toys. The set consisted of 8 dolls, where the outermost was a mother in a traditional dress holding a red-combed rooster. The inner dolls were her children, five girls and a boy, and the innermost a baby. The Children’s Education Workshop was closed in the late 1890s, but the tradition of the matryoshka simply relocated to Semyonov
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