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The origin of name “ Matryoshka”

Woman's name Matryona or Matresha was very popular in the Russian villages at the time of origin of the craft of carving and painting nested dolls. The name comes from the Latin root "mater" which means mother. This name was associated with the image of the mother with a portly figure. It became a unifying name for small turned wooden dolls that revealed smaller dolls fitting within one another and became symbols of motherhood and fertility.

What is Matreshka?

A set of Matryoshka dolls consists of a wooden figure, which can be pulled apart to reveal another figure of the same sort inside. It has in turn another figure inside, and so on. The number of nested figures is usually six or more. The shape is mostly cylindrical, rounded at the top for the head and tapered towards the bottom, but little else; the dolls have no hands (except those that are painted). The artistry is in the painting of each doll, which can be extremely elaborate. The theme is usually peasant girls in traditional dress, but can be almost anything.

! Please make a note of the fact that nesting dolls can also be called:
Nested doll, stacking doll, matrjosha, matryushka, matroshka, matryoshka, matreshka.

The biggest matryoshka ever made

The biggest matryoshka ever made contained 72 pieces, when an average size dolls usually includes 5-7 pieces. The largest nested doll was 1 m high. This unique doll was made in 1970 and was dedicated to birthday of Soviet communist leader Lenin.

Production Process

Modern painted wooden toys serve not only as interior decoration, but also have an educational value. The plot of the paintings carries a lot of interesting historical information about the way of life, culture, costumes and architecture of Russia.

The craft of carving toys emerged in the Moscow region over 300 years ago. Artels of the carvers in Podmoskovie and Vladimirskiy regions were striving to develop their own styles, their own carving traditions. Just as it happened in all other trades and crafts, carving was learned and practiced within a family, where younger generations studied and gained knowledge of craftsmanship secrets from older family members.


Modern craft masters create expressive items full of warmth and gentle humor that touches both children and adults.

There were two main branches in the development of art of carved wooden toys, painted and not painted toys. The plots of the toy designs were mostly devoted to the way of life in the villages and holiday celebration.

When the painter receives a carved doll, it is still not ready to be painted. The surface of the doll has to be carefully prepared to be smooth enough for the brush to slide easily. The surface has to be primed with a layer of raw egg. Once the prime coat is dry, the artist can start painting. First, the design is traced with a pencil using thin lines.

Water-based acrylics are the most common paint applied for the painting of matreshkas.

One of the most interesting and elaborate stages of the work is the development of the characters, plots and new designs for the dolls. The artist has to do the research of the additional material in order to keep the designs fresh, engaging and educational. Numerous magazines and books containing information on the history of Russian traditions and culture, as well as costume and architecture records have to be researched. Artists constantly create sketches based on that research and trips to the regional and ethnographic museums. Exhibitions and fairs devoted to folk art are also sources of knowledge and inspiration.

Painting with acrylic is a complex process, which required skill and experience in this area. Transparent acrylic paints are used for the painting of nested dolls. The designs are composed of many different coats of paint that are layered gradually, still allowing the natural color of wood show through. This technique creates a sense of profound and transparent depth to the colors and the designs on the dolls.

At first, the artist just covers the surface with pain to mark the composition. Later she has to work on the numerous details to show folds in the clothing, embroidery designs on the shawls, hands and faces. Another stage of paining is to make sure that surfaces are realistic, in other words, it is necessary to add certain strokes to the surface picturing fur, for example, to make it really look like fur. Great attention is paid to the work on the children's faces in the paintings. When preparing sketches for the future painting, artists study children's anatomy, their facial expressions and attitude. Artists try to capture children's emotions and how they move during games.

An artist's work is very complex and captivating. A part of artist's sole, as well as the positive energy that was put into the work is captured in the final product. A painted toy can be a wonderful addition to your interior decoration and will add to the warmth and joy of the room.



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Information offered in this section does not refer only to our nested dolls. These are just common guidelines for any nesting doll collector. We do check every doll to make sure it’s made with the correct fit...
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