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
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
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
Matrioshka appeared as synthesis of Buddhist sculpture,
pre-Christian toys of Russia and Christian beliefs of 19th
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 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)
mæ̀tróuskə] 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] ----
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