Crafts & Hobbies Information

Russian Nesting Dolls - The Beginning


According legend, first nested doll prototype appeared in Russia in the late 19th century (believed to be year 1890), it was figurine of bold headed old man, Buddhist sage by the name of Fukuruma, on the island of Honshu, Japan.

According Hakone Town Office, Japan, products such as "Shichifukujin" and "Irokawaridaruma" have been created from Junitamago. "Shichifukujin" was shipped to Russia at the end of the 19th century, becoming a folkcraft called Matryoshika, or a doll having children. It is thought that Russian missionaries from the Russian church which used to be in Tohnosawa visited Hakone for the summer and took "Junitamago" back to Russia as souvenirs. Let us explain what Shichifukujin mean.

According Japan sources -

Japan`s Shichifukujin--usually identified as Ebisu, Daikokuten, Bishamonten, Benzaiten, Fukurokuju, Jurojin, and Hotei--are traditionally believed to bring good fortune and happiness to people. The seven have long been depicted in painting, sculpture, song, and dance and began to be worshiped as a group several hundred years ago. The practice of making a meguri, or pilgrimage, to shrines and temples of all the Shichifukujin during the New Year season became popular during the Edo period (1603-1868). Shichifukujin Meguri are still popular everywhere in Japan--including the Fukagawa and Kameido districts of Tokyo`s Koto-ku. But Russian nesting doll got another name and had a different meaning from the very beginning.

At the end of 19th century at Russia Children`s Education Workshop at Abramtzevo village near Moscow was established. Abramtzevo workshop started to produce dolls in traditional ethnic dress. That workshop collected dolls from all over the country and from countries abroad. Dolls series was designed to entertain childs and to give them knowledge of other ethnicities.

It is believed that Fukuruma doll inspired Russian artist S.V. Malyutin to produce first "Matrioshka" (nesting doll in Russian) doll. But Russian doll was different from original Japanese one. At Russia it became toy, game for childs, it depicted the chain of life, and got woman name.

It is the diminutive form of Matrona or Matriona. Therefore, Matroska, should be a feminine noun. "Matrona" is Bysantee and ancient Rome originated name, which means "well respected woman".

Matrioshka appeared as synthesis of Buddhist sculpture, pre-Christian toys of Russia and Christian beliefs of 19th century.

Original, ancient Russian dolls was produced from solid piece of wood and depicted ancient - pre-Christian gods. That dolls was in fact, miniature ancient Indo-Iranian pagans, they depicted Horses, Cows, Birds, Humans. Once Bysantee Empire style Christianity appeared in Russia at VIII-IX century, that type of dolls was transformed into wooden figures of animals and Heroes of fairy tales, cause " pagan toys " was not Ok to use anymore. Russian Matrioshka produced from solid piece of wood too, but became nested, and depicts people, fairy tales heroes or animals - same as many centuries ago, but now - with Buddhist sence, nested.

Nested doll was very popular toy for childs cause it helps to develop motility of fingers, imagination, representation about the sizes and colors.

"Matrioshka" nested doll spelled differently outside Russia. Exactly, According to the spelling mat + ros (as in albatross OR as in metros) + ka (as in Alaska) [mę̀trɔ́skə, mę̀tróuskə] According to the original Russian word ma as in machine; tro as in tr in try + Yo in New York, but shorter and narrower; ska as in sh in ship + ka in Alaska [mətrʲóʃkə] ----

Article provided by Russian nesting dolls internet shop: http://www.rus-sell.com


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