Matryoshka -- Russian nesting dolls

by tealmermaid

Learn about matryoshka, the traditional wooden nesting dolls from Russia.

Matryoshka dolls are sets of hollow dolls typically made of linden wood which have been specially designed with a wood turning tool to nest one inside another. They are cut in half at the waist with the intent to be opened. Modern matryoshka designs can include animals, Soviet leaders, fairy tale figures, and pop culture icons.

History of Russian nesting dolls

The original set of matryoshka art dolls was originally created in Russia in 1890 by Sergei Maliutin and Vasiliy Zvezdochkin, who was inspired by traditional Japanese kokeshi dolls. The outermost figure is usually that of a woman in traditional Russian garb. Each successive doll is smaller than its predecessor, and the innermost doll is a baby that cannot be opened. The original matryoshka dolls were presented at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1900 and won a medal.

Strawberry matryoshka set
Strawberry matryoshka set

Types of matryoshka nesting dolls

Semenov matryoshka dolls

The Semenov matryoshka dolls are made in a traditional style which is painted in aniline dyes. The apron is the focal point: there will be a large asymmetrical flower bouquet featuring a rose and violets. Three colours are used for these dolls: red, yellow, and green (typically a red headscarf with yellow dress and green detailing, or a yellow headscarf with red dress and green detailing). There is a spiral design on the headscarf of the dolls.

Viatka or Kirov matryohska dolls

The Viatka matryohska dolls have rounded child-like facial features. They are painted in simple bright colours with a stylized floral design on the apron. The designs of this style have clean lines.

Tver or Kalinin matryoshka dolls

Tver matryoshka are distinctive in that they are feature a wood-burned design on the raw wood. The darker woodburn tones enhance the detailing of their clothing. The colours used are very bright with non-stylized apron designs, and there is a lot of gold leaf detailing.

Polkhovsky Maidan matryoshka dolls

The matryoshka from Polkhovsky Maidan are quite stylized, often having spiral curls for hair. Their outfits tend toward yellow tones with some reds and greens used, and a floral pattern on the apron. These are very traditional matryoshka.

Sergiev-Posad matryoshka dolls

Those matryohska dolls produced in Sergiev-Posad are far more modern in appearance than those elsewhere. Many have detailed face-painting and bodies. The designs are not restricted to the traditional floral apron. It is not unusual to find matryoshka dolls from this region with domed churches, snow scenes, and fairytale paintings.

Make your own set of matryoshka dolls

Moonmo 10pcs Beautiful Handmade DIY Blank Wooden Russia Nesting Dolls Gift Russian Nesting Wishin...

Russian nesting dolls are fun to paint, so why not make your own custom designed set?

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Matryoshka jewelry

If you know someone know just loves Russian nesting dolls, you know that matryoshka jewelry would be the perfect gift for that person! There is such a wide variety of matryoshka jewelry items such as brooches, rings, and charms that it's easy to find the perfect gift for any occasion. For Christmas, Valentine's Day, a wedding anniversary, or "just because", matryoshka jewelry makes for a unique gift.

SilberDream Charm matryoshka 925 Sterling Silver Pendant Lobster Clasp FC635

This is a lovely enameled matryoshka charm, perfect for a charm bracelet.

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Rembrandt Charms Matryoshka Doll Charm with Lobster Clasp, Sterling Silver

For something a bit different, try this highly polished silver matryoshka charm on your charm bracelet.

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More than just matryoshka charms ...

If charm bracelets aren't your thing, there are of course other options for matryoshka jewelry. Perhaps a nice matryoshka brooch might suit? Or you could match matryoshka earrings to a necklace to make a set? With just a little shopping around, you can find the perfect matryoshka jewelry!

3 pairs of Matryoshka earrings Russian hand painted nesting dolls earrings

These matryoshka earrings have a lacquered finish. There are three pairs included in this lot.

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MYD Jewelry Enamel Matryoshka Nesting Doll Easter Egg Pendant Necklace (sky blue)

This is a more modern egg-shaped matryoshka in a pendant design.

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Matryoshka fabric

If you are planning a project with matryoshka fabric, you know that while the matryoshka motif is popular, it can be difficult to find matryoshka fabric outside of Japan. I have searched for the very best matryoshka print fabrics that would be perfect for any project ideas: an apron, a dress, even a quilt!

Matryoshka fabric by the yard

Dolls Fabric - Matryoshka Russian Doll Kids Pattern by Maaike Boot - Dolls Fabric with Spoonflowe...

This matryoshka fabric is very brightly coloured and cheerful, great for a skirt or dress.

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Matryoshka Doll Black Fabric By The Yard

This is a more subdued design on matryoshka dolls on a black background.

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Euro Organic Knit Matryoshka Russian Doll Design Fabric By the Yard, 92% Cotton, 8% Lycra, 60 Inc...

For a more traditional look, try this yellow fabric with a matryoshka design.

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Free printable matryoshka coloring pages

Nesting doll designs are great to colour on a rainy afternoon. Their bright outfit colours will brighten up any dreary afternoon, and colouring whiles away the time nicely. I have located some of the best Russian nesting doll colouring pages for you. The matryoshka line arts here are all pre-screened and kid-safe. Kids and adults alike will enjoy colouring these matryoshka designs!

Free Russian matryoshka crafts and ideas

Matryoshka en masse
Matryoshka en masse

Matryoshkas are a great versatile craft project idea. As the most popular example of Russian folk art, they are a must-do craft project that would enhance any Russian themed home decor. The matryoshka craft projects here are all pre-screened and kid-safe. Kids and adults alike will enjoy creating these matryoshka crafts!

Matryoshka paper crafts

Matryoshka references

The Littlest Matryoshka

A children's story book. The smallest matryoshka in the set gets lost.

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The Matryoshka Nesting Doll Coloring Book for Adults: The Adult Coloring Book For Relaxation and...

Relax and enjoy a peaceful afternoon coloring this lovely matryoshka coloring book.

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Coloring Books for Grownups Russian Matryoshka Dolls: Mandalas & Geometric Coloring Pages Anti-st...

Another coloring book for adults with mandala type background images. Very soothing to colour.

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Do you collect matryoshka dolls?

Updated: 06/03/2017, tealmermaid
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