Matryoshka Russian Orthodox Nesting Dolls
- Vintage item
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This colorful set of six hand made and beautifully hand painted Russian nesting dolls, called Matryoshka in Russian, is part of a tradition that began in 1890 with the first hand carved set made by a toy factory in a town north of Moscow. Nesting dolls became a symbol of Russian folk crafts and a favorite souvenir. Decorated with male icons from the Russian Orthodox Church, all but one with beards of black, brown or grey, and its many symbols such as various crosses, candles and banners, they're made of wood--linden or birch--all from the same block of wood. Carving them so they fit together perfectly requires great skill.
They are then painted in the clear bold colors of Russian icons: dark blue, Tsar's red, dark brown and green, trimmed in silver paint. The final touch is a glossy coat of lacquer to protect the artistry. The middle-sized figure holds a scroll that is printed with a message in Cyrillic script, which is fascinating but for us untranslatable. On all the pieces, even the smallest one, the painting with designs wraps around the entire figure. The unpainted bottom of the largest figure has penciled notations and a handwritten signature by the artist in black ink along the edge.
The largest doll stands 8 1/2 inches tall with a 14 inch circumference around the widest point. It's on a black painted, footed round base 3 3/4 inches in diameter. The descending heights are 6 1/2 inches, 4 inches, 3 1/2 inches, 2 1/2 inches and the smallest at 1 3/4 inches tall. They fit together nicely and, though snugly nested, open without much effort. All six are in excellent condition and make a wonderful display of Russian folk art.
>>>Wondering how to open your Russian nesting dolls? Here's a great explanation:
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