Shopping in Russia: the Matryoshka dolls

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When you think about Russia, apart from snow, the first typical things that come to mind are caviar and Matryoshka dolls. What better souvenir of your trip to Russia than an original Matryoshka!

Let’s find out a little more about this fascinating toy.

What is a Matryoshka doll?

Matryoshka is a Russian wooden toy in the form of a painted doll. Usually, they have the shape of a flat egg and consist of two parts: upper and lower.


Each stacking doll splits in half at the midsection and opens to reveal another smaller doll nested within.

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The number of nested dolls is usually three or more and traditionally depicts a woman in a red scarf and apron with a flower motif.

How old is Matryoshka?

It is a very young toy: it appeared only a little over a hundred years ago, in the 90s of the XIX century.

However, in 1900 at the World Exhibition in Paris Matryoshka received a gold medal as an example of “national art”.


Matryoshka? What does it mean?

Almost unanimously all researchers refer to the fact that the name is derived from the female name Matryona, widespread in Russia, “Matrona” that comes from the Latin, meaning “noblewoman”.

Where are produced the original Matryoshka dolls?

The traditional nesting dolls are made by the “Semenovskaya Painting Factory”, and are recognizable by the typical apron characterized by a bright bouquet of flower and is made of lime, birch or aspen.

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Semenov Matryoshka is done in accordance with local traditions: painted with aniline dyes, leaving much empty wood and then varnished.

At first, the artist draws the contours of the face: making the eyes, lips, and blush. Then “dresses” the doll in a scarf, skirt, apron, drawing her hands.

The most important thing is the painting of the apron, a large colorful, and lush bouquet of flowers that takes precedence over everything.


A curiosity about Matryoshka dolls

The largest set of Matryoshka dolls in the world is a 51-piece set hand-painted by the Russian artist Youlia Bereznitskaia, completed in 2003. The tallest doll in the set measures 53.97 centimeters, the smallest, 0.31 centimeters. Arranged side-by-side, the dolls span 3.41 meters.

Do you like shopping when traveling? Which is your favorite souvenir? Share your experience by commenting below!

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