a little history
The first nesting dolls actually originated in China and Japan in the 1700s but Matryoshka dolls are traditionally Russian, originating in the late 1800s. Their popularity extended beyond Russia when they were displayed at the Paris World Exposition in 1900. By 1920, exports of these dolls increased and around the same time, were being made by German toymakers near Munich. The name comes from a very popular female name whose Latin root 'mater' means mother. The name was associated with the image of a mother with a big family and it became symbolic of the brightly painted wooden dolls made to stack inside one another.
how they're made
Each set of dolls is made from lime, birch, alder or aspen. The smallest one is made first, with each subsequent doll turned on a lathe by highly skilled craftsmen.
Over the years, nesting dolls have had their aprons painted with historical themes, nobility, fairy tale themes, landscapes and architectural monuments, though traditionally they depict peasant girls in traditional dress.
Many eastern European countries like Germany, Poland, Czech Republic and Ukraine have their own versions of nesting dolls in their own shapes and motifs, making them a popular souvenir item.
Nowadays, nesting dolls have become a popular icon, especially in the crafting community. Look at all the fun matryoshka-themed items I found on Etsy...
Do you have any Matryoshka dolls?