Russian Dolls, or what are actually called Matryoshka dolls are a set of wooden dolls placed one inside another. They usually come in a set of eight dolls in different sizes – starting from the smallest to the biggest.
They are also called babushka dolls, stacking dolls, nesting dolls, or Russian tea dolls. Matryoshka literally means, “little matron”, while Babushka means an old woman or grandmother.
A quick history….
As with many things in history, the story of the origin of the Russian dolls also has a few versions. The popular one is that these nesting dolls are not originally from Russia, but came from Asia. It is believed that they date back to the 1700s when Japanese and Chinese craftsmen began to make these nesting dolls.
The way they came to Russia was when, in 1896, a Japanese artist brought these dolls to an art exhibition in Russia. This is when Russian artists saw these and started to make their own versions.
It is said that an artist named Sergey Malyutin made the first matryoshka doll in 1890. These were thereafter exhibited by Russian artists at the 1900 world’s fair in Paris. They then came to become associated with Russian culture.
Most nesting dolls contain three to twelve dolls. However, the world record for the largest set of Russian dolls, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, is a 51-piece set hand-painted set by a Russian artist named Youlia Bereznitskaia. The largest one is 1 ft 9.25 inches (53.97 cm) in height, while the smallest is 0.125 in (0.31 cm) in height.