Babushka/Matryoshka Russian Nesting Dolls
The word “Matryoshka” comes from one of the most common names for women in Russia. Provincial (village) Russians often called their ladies “Matryona” or “Matryoshka.”
This name was derived from the Latin
“ma-ter,” which means, of course “mother.”
The name was associated with the image of a strong, healthy, woman of a big family.
Even now the nesting doll is considered to be a symbol of motherhood and fertility.
A mother doll with numerous dolls-children perfectly expresses the oldest symbol of human culture.
The dolls which nest inside one another and have been beautifully hand-crafted and hand-painted in Russia.
They are taken apart to reveal smaller dolls fitting inside one another.
It is hard to imagine now that only about 150 years ago Matryoshka did not existed at all.
The legendary Matryoshka was first made in the ‘Children’s Education Workshop’.
The basic technique of nesting doll making remains unchanged from days of old.
As a rule nesting dolls are made from lime, birch, alder and aspen.
Lime is the most abundant and prefered material.
The logs are kept in the open air for 2-3 years.
Only an experienced master can tell when the material is ready for use.
Then the logs are cut into workpieces for crafting the nesting dolls.
The dolls are made on a turning lathe.
This requires high skills as all operations to make the doll do not involve any measurements and the masters rely only on intuition and require high professional skills. Every workpiece can be turned as many as 15 times before the nesting doll will be ready.
When the turning work is over a snow white doll is thoroughly cleaned then primed with starchy glue to make the surface ideally smooth and to prevent the paint making smudges and then dried.
Now it is ready to be painted.
Most babushka/matryoshkas are painted with gouache, high-quality tempera, oil, water colour and other paints (the same as those used by artists on canvas) are used to color the dolls.
The paint is always non-toxic.
One of the most traditional themes for dolls is flowers, the flowers are painted as designs on the shawls and aprons of the matryoshkas.
However there are so many different styles and designs.
There are fairy tales, icons, animals and celebrities to name a few.
No two dolls are ever 100% identical as the dolls are never mass produced and are lovingly made like works of art.
After the paint has dried, the dolls are finished with a protective coating of lacquer (common finish).
For the artistic sets, at least five coats of lacquer are applied.
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