Matryoshka - Russian doll, originally from Japan

Matryoshka is a traditional Russian souvenir. Tourists tend to buy it in memory of Russia. And we have a matryoshka doll recently, at the end of the 19th century. And it was brought from distant Japan.

It all began with the fact that in 1890 the wife of the famous Russian industrialist and patron of the arts Savva Mamontov, Elizaveta Grigorievna, visited Japan and brought back a souvenir from there - a wooden doll depicting an oriental sage. But this doll turned out to be not waiting, if you disassemble it, you can find seven figures of the gods of happiness inside.

Perhaps an interesting doll would have stood in the Mamontovs' house as a souvenir, but once their estate in the village of Abramtsevo near Moscow was visited by the artist Sergei Malyutin, who decided to set up production of such collapsible dolls in Russia. Only taking into account Russian traditions. Turner Vasily Zvezdochkin undertook to grind the blanks, and Malyutin himself began to paint them.

Soon the first product appeared, consisting of eight characters: the largest figure depicted a ruddy peasant woman, then a guy in a colored shirt, and the smallest figure was in the form of a baby. The doll was nicknamed "matryoshka". There is an assumption that the name was given in honor of Matryona, a servant who worked in the Mamontov estate. The very first doll can still be seen in the Toy Museum, which is located in Sergiev Posad near Abramtsevo.

A few years later, it was Sergiev Posad that became the center for making matryoshka dolls; there were good workshops in which they were engaged in wood carving. Gradually, the craftsmen of the surrounding villages also began to make blanks, and then gave them to be painted. At first, only wealthy people could afford to buy a matryoshka; a good doll cost twice as much as a pair of sturdy boots.

In 1900, samples of dolls were sent to the World Exhibition in Paris, where they showed great interest. I liked the products of Russian craftsmen so much that the nesting doll was even awarded a bronze medal with the following wording: "For the best embodiment of the idea of ​​preserving and reuniting the family." In Russia, the production of nesting dolls started to work in full force, now there are numerous orders from abroad. In Paris, a huge store "Russian Handicraftsmen" was opened, where customers were offered, among other goods, a large assortment of nesting dolls.

Similar stores have appeared over the years in Germany, England and other European countries. It is interesting that foreign masters, at the peak of the popularity of Russian dolls, even set up the production of fakes. But, in terms of quality, such nesting dolls could not be compared with those that were produced in Russia.

The assortment was constantly replenished. For example, in 1912, when the 100th anniversary of the Patriotic War was celebrated, the dolls "Kutuzov" and "Napoleon" appeared. And inside there were items of a smaller size, depicting famous commanders of that war. Nesting dolls depicting the heroes of Russian folk tales were also popular with buyers. In 1909, on the anniversary of the birth of the great satirist N.V. Gogol, matryoshka dolls were made with portraits of famous characters in his works.

There was no clear standard for the number of figures in one matryoshka. Dolls were made in 3, 5, 7 pieces and more. Once Russian masters made a real masterpiece - a matryoshka doll, which consisted of 48 figures. The work was very painstaking, therefore, it was simply impossible to launch such curiosities into mass production.

It should be noted that after the October Revolution, the matryoshka doll was not banned by the new government. Moreover, production began to expand. Both state enterprises and numerous single handicraftsmen were engaged in the production of a popular souvenir. Such souvenirs were still willingly bought by foreigners, and this made it possible to replenish the state budget with foreign currency.

The process of making nesting dolls goes through several stages. First you need to choose the right wood. The best material is linden, less often alder, aspen or birch are used. The logs should dry out for several years, the master needs to catch the moment when the tree is ready for processing in time. It is difficult to work with dry material; poorly dried material may crack.

The work begins with the manufacture of the smallest figure, when it is ready, they begin to work on the next one, in which the "baby" will be invested. And so on until the largest doll. Then the artists get to work.

Currently, one of the centers for the production of nesting dolls is the village of Polkhovsky Maidan, Nizhny Novgorod Region. Here, in the middle of the 19th century, they began to make wooden dishes, which were sold at the famous Makaryevskaya fair. And then they switched to the manufacture of nesting dolls, this product turned out to be more profitable.