The Beginner’s Guide to Russian Nesting Dolls

Russian Nesting dolls are a wooden painted doll with a symbol of Russia. It has became the coolest doll figures in Russia. There is no consensus on the history of the creation of this chubby and plump cheerful girl. No records, sketches or images of this doll have been saved anywhere. However, the changing face of Nesting dolls can be observed especially when Russia’s politics is concerned.

The appearance of the Nesting dolls

The time of creation of the Nesting doll is considered to be the 90th year of the XIX century, when the wife of the Russian artist Anatoly IvanovichMamontov, who works in the shop, brought a toy from Japan (from the island of Honshu). More precisely, the chiseled figure, which was the Japanese God of good luck, Fukorokoju (in Russia, the toy is known as Fukurama), but the toy was not the most common it could be divided in half, but inside it kept a similar figure, but less, which also consisted of two halves. Thus, the god Fukorokoju kept in himself the figures of the other six gods of fortune.

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According to the legend, this toy was the progenitor of the nested doll. Namely, the artist drew attention to the purchase of his wife and created a sketch, and the doll itself asked to turn a hereditary turner VasilyPetrovichZvezdochkina, then he painted it. However, the first toy did not consist only of Russian beauties. It alternated images of the Russian beauty, dressed in a sundress, apron and handkerchief, with images of stately young men, and the smallest baby was a baby. But after creation, you had to give a name to your creation,

Anatoly Ivanovich did call the doll as Nesting dolls. This name was connected with the image of the mother of a large family and came from the Russian name popular at that time, Matryona. Subsequently, this name Nesting dolls was used specifically to describe the brightly painted wooden dolls, made in such a way that one was inside the other. So a mother doll with numerous daughters’ dolls perfectly expresses the oldest symbol of human culture and is also considered a symbol of motherhood and fertility.

Then, in the Moscow estate of MamontovAbramtsevo, the production of nested dolls was arranged. The first Nesting dolls looked like a simple girl in a folk dress. Over time, the painting became more and more complicated, various ornaments, scenes from fairy tales appeared. At first, the Russian Nesting dolls was an eight-person, all the figures in it were different from each other. Already at the beginning of the 20th century, 24-seater dolls were made. Later, in 1913, NikolayBulychev made a 48-seater Nesting dolls. Now the very first Russian Nesting dolls can be found in SergievPosad in the Toy Museum.

This production was not an easy task, since the manual manufacture of a doll on a lathe requires high qualification and ability to work with a limited set of tools. The smallest figures were made first. Then the next doll was carved on it, and so on. In the manufacture of forms of nesting dolls no measurements were taken. The master had to rely only on his skill and intuition.

Even wrote an article about the popularity of Russian nesting dolls.

The process of creating dolls

For the manufacture of nesting dolls craftsmen traditionally choose a tree of soft breeds. Linden and alder are perfect. Birch is much less commonly used. Such wood as oak or beech is categorically not suitable for this event, since they have an increased density, and oak, moreover, is also characterized by porosity. Selected trees are cut down, as a rule, in early spring. After that, the bark is removed from the logs, but not cleaned, as it is necessary in order to protect the wood from cracking during drying.

To begin processing wood should be when it is already dry enough, but it is not too dried. If the tree is too dry, it should be placed in a place with a standard level of humidity. The blanks are currently made, as a rule, by hand, however some workshops use special technical equipment for this. Each blank passes at least ten different operations before it is used to create the nested doll.

Finally, after long-term drying, the craftsmen get down to business: the creation of the Nesting dolls always begins with the smallest doll, which is not separable. Next, proceed to the manufacture of the next figure, which will fit the smallest Russian doll. The work piece is made the necessary dimensions, after which it is cut into two even parts. After that, they are made hollow, that is, all excess wood is removed from the inside.

After completing the manufacture of blanks, they are covered with protective varnish. Next, the master proceeds to coloring. The technology of painting is the use of oil paints, gouaches, watercolors. Gouache is in the greatest demand for many years.

Each master painted the dolls in his own way, inventing his own styles, each of which got its popularity. The most famous of these styles was the style of SergievPosad, where in the 1900s, the entire production of the Nesting dolls was moved.

Four main styles of painting Russian nesting dolls

Until the end of the 90s of the 19th century, nesting dolls were made in the Moscow workshop, and after it was closed, the production moved to the training and demonstration workshops of SergievPosad near Moscow. In fact, SergievPosad became the place where the first industrial design of the Russian nesting doll was made, where it was born and for the first time “saw” the light.

On the huge market square of the city near the monastery there was a market. The square was always full of people, and it is not surprising that the first dolls depicted just such a colorful life. Among the first images there are young girls dressed in bright sundresses, women Old Believers in conservative clothes, brides and grooms, shepherds with pipe, old men with lush beards. In the early period of development of technology in Nesting dolls appeared and male images, too.

Some dolls were devoted to historical themes and portrayed boyars with their wives, Russian noblemen of the 17th century, as well as legendary Russian heroes. Some nesting dolls made in Moscow represent the powerful and influential families in that area. Sometimes nesting dolls were dedicated to book characters. For example, in 1909, by the centenary of Gogol, SergievPosad produced a series of dolls based on the works of Gogol: TarasBulba, Plyushkin, and Governor. In 1912, to the centenary of the Patriotic War against Napoleon, Nesting dolls depicted Kutuzov and some other commanders. Some dolls borrowed fabulous scenes, often themes were taken from popular heroic tales. All these can be found from a single island of nesting dolls.