What exactly do you know about the Matryoshka Doll?

At the slightest glance at these wooden dolls painted in magnificent colors, and you will suddenly feel an enveloping energy, the kind we feel when we are at home by the fire with our loved ones.

Matryoshka dolls, sometimes also known as nesting dolls, are small wooden statuettes originating from Russia.

Hollow in their center, each is designed to accommodate a smaller one inside, a bit like the layers of an onion.

The different dolls therefore fit together, the largest containing a slightly smaller one, which itself contains a smaller one, and so on.

The matryoshka doll is a timeless representation of the simplicity and enchantment that animate the hearts of the Russian people.

The traditional designs and motifs that decorate them are often reminiscent of past centuries when the peasantry dominated the country.

In fact, each of the dolls seems to take us into the settings of a simple life close to the earth.

Since most people have only a limited understanding of the meaning of Russian dolls, their origin and what they symbolize, we decided to investigate and write an article on the subject.

Contents :

Concretely, what is this Russian lucky charm? What does it mean ?

History and origin of the matryoshka doll

But actually, how are Russian dolls made?

Some interesting facts

Discover this article in video format

Dozens of Russian dolls on the table of a lucky charm and souvenir store.

Concretely, what is this Russian lucky charm? What does it mean ?

You have probably already seen them in antique shops or in certain toy stores.

If you are a resident of Russia, they should even be familiar to you. If you have never seen one, however, this is what matryoshka dolls look like.

With their recognizable stout silhouette and the brightly colored patterns that decorate them, Russian matryoshka dolls serve many purposes: cozy home decorations, collectibles, gifts for mothers and newborns, and even toys for children.

In fact, their name allows us to better understand the meaning of Russian dolls. “Matriochka” has the root of the Latin word “mater, matria” which means “mother”.

We understand why these figurines generally represent corpulent women with warm and welcoming faces! With their traditional outfits and scarves, they actually have all the attributes of 19th century Russian mothers.

In short, these dolls can symbolize things like the well-being of the home, motherhood and love for one's family.

In fact, this is a true symbol of traditional Russian life, the importance of a mother to the family and the great respect her children should give her.

When a person visits Russia, they are more than likely to buy matryoshka dolls as a souvenir. If this is your case, you will at least now know the values ​​that this Russian lucky charm teaches. .. but what do you know about the story of its creation?

Russian dolls, a Faberger egg and a pendant with the Orthodox cross of Saint Nicholas

Power and tradition

with Russian symbols and lucky charms

History and origin of the matryoshka doll

When we hear the word “matryoshka,” most people automatically think of Russia.

This is completely normal since for more than a hundred years now, it is from this country that the millions of dolls which today decorate living rooms around the world have come.

Although considered one of the oldest traditions in Russian culture and history to have enjoyed such popularity, many sources and historians contradict each other as to the origin of the Russian doll.

We will now present to you the majority point of view on the question, but please be aware that the debates are still ongoing.

The history of deep Russia is sometimes unfortunately poorly documented. If the subject interests you, why not discover the Russian lucky charms that we have unearthed for you. Each of them corresponds to an interesting anecdote or story of the Russian people.

Apparently, these figurines only arrived in Russia in the 19th century, when Savva Mamontov (a famous Russian merchant and art patron) returned from his trip to Japan. There, he would have discovered strange wooden statuettes representing deities, which could fit into one another.

He then decided to have them produced in his toy factory in Moscow. His goal was no less to recover an object he found amusing than to promote the culture and values ​​of the Russian people.

Indeed, he was not content with simply copying Japanese figurines but created a truly unique style (which has survived to this day). Historians estimate that the first model of matryoshka as we know it today dates from around 1890.

At first a local phenomenon and known only to Moscow elites, the Russian doll conquered the hearts of the entire world a few years later...

It was during the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1900 that this lucky charm acquired the notoriety that we know it.

An immediate success with the public, all those who visited the exhibition had their imagination deeply influenced by Russian dolls.

A bit like the way cheese was associated with France and beer with Germany, the matryoshka became a symbol of Russia internationally.

Since then, these dolls have been one of the best-selling souvenirs in Russia.

With over a century of tradition and talented craftsmanship, the great profusion of style and pattern and therefore also an ideal collector's item.

If their story interests you, here is an article which will present the creation of the matryoshka from another angle.

Tools of a Russian woodworking craftsman.

But actually, how are Russian dolls made?

Do you have your own set of matryoshka dolls?

If so, has there ever been a moment when you just stopped and looked at this wooden masterpiece, and wondered how it could have been made?

How can a piece of wood be so smooth, shiny and sometimes hollow with an oval, both inside and out?

And even, how can wood take an oval shape without breaking? Doesn't this imply a solidity problem?

Are these little dolls made of basswood? Birch or pine?

We will leave all these questions unanswered. Indeed, the secrets of the craftsmen are numerous and complex, revealing them would take away from the magic and aura of your matryoshka doll.

People who buy one may never understand the process and work behind it, and how the workers are able to produce such masterpieces.

Only one thing is certain: attention to detail, precision and mastery of one's art are necessary to create this type of object.

Woman about to discover amusing anecdotes.

Some interesting facts

Now that you know the meaning of the Russian doll as well as its origin, we are going to give you some more fun information, probably more trivial too, which will let you tell interesting anecdotes to your guests who will ask you about your matryoshka dolls.

So here are some fun facts:

  • The idea of ​​creating nested objects could come from… China! Indeed, some specialists even speak of an all-Asian technique and engineering capable of creating dolls the size of a nail.
  • We've told you about it, but the idea of ​​Russian dolls finds its inspiration in the culture of Japan. There, similar figurines represented seven gods associated with happiness and longevity.
  • The largest matryoshka doll measures almost 30 meters! It is located in the city of Manzhouli in China, where it sits alongside its smaller sisters.
  • The most numerous doll set consists of 51 pieces ! The largest doll among them is over half a meter tall.
  • With the fall of Sovietism, Russian dolls became a real tool of protest, often caricaturing the communist dictators of the past.
  • Painters across Russia practice on dolls to perfect their technique. Cabinetmakers too, the exercise of creating a range decreasing in size and with a perfect fit being arduous.
  • A true emblem of the city, Saint Petersburg has a craft tradition where our beautiful doll is often used as a Christmas gift.
  • Toy, souvenir or fantasy figurine: none of that with the most luxurious models, made of gold, porcelain and precious stones.
  • Some nesting doll models are the residence of families of birds, who see it as a good place to nest.

Discover this article in video format

Lucky charm featured in this article

Matryoshka dolls

Matryoshka dolls

See more
author picture(Cyril Gendarme)

Discover the author: Cyril Gendarme

Cyril Gendarme is a writer whose website "The Lucky Door" ("La Porte Du Bonheur" in French, his native language) has become a reference in the field of esotericism. Born in Belgium, Cyril has been attracted to the mysteries of the world since he was a child. When his interest in occultism was awakened, a particular subject caught his attention: lucky charms.

After years of study and in-depth research on esoteric traditions from around the world, Cyril decided to share his knowledge with the public through the internet. In 2019, he launched "The Lucky Door," a website dedicated to exploring lucky charms, magical symbols, and esoteric arts.

The Lucky Door is much more than just a showcase for those curious about magic, divination, or tradition. It is the result of Cyril's passion for researching and understanding the mysteries of the universe. Every piece of information available on the site testifies to his dedication to sharing his knowledge of the most hidden symbols and their unique powers.

In addition to his online work, Cyril regularly organizes workshops and conferences in different countries. His presence on social media is also highly appreciated, where he offers personalized advice and happily answers questions from his community.