Originally called Matryoshka dolls, from the Latin word ‘mater’, meaning mother.
Russia is a country steeped in history and has held a fascination for many of us over the years. This interest pans from the Russian Revolution, which saw the end to Tsars, to exceptional athletes (especially Olympic gymnasts.) World famous Ballerinas, circus troops and of course Babushka Dolls!
Did you know ‘Babushka’ means Old Women in Russia? The dolls were considered a symbol of fertility, representing future generations.
Babushka dolls were associated with the healthy, plump image of a peasant woman with a large family. The colourful earth mother dolls have long been a part of our childhoods, with the ever shrinking figurines fitting neatly inside one another to tell the story of a mother and her family.
THE BIRTH OF BABUSHKA
Babushka dolls, or nesting dolls, began life around 1890 in Sergiev Pasad- a busy little village near the famous Trinity St Sergius Monastery, about 73km outside Moscow. Sergiev Pasad became famous for its wooden toys- in particular the Babushka Dolls.
The Babushka dolls contain eight pieces; the first doll was called the ‘Roster Girl’ and portrayed a peasant lady in native dress, holding a black rooster. Inside her was a boy followed by a girl and then so, each painted differently from the others in the set.
Traditionally Babushka dolls were made with a soft linden wood. (same timber still used for all cuckoo clocks) The trees were felled during spring then staked for up to six years to dry. Each family was made from the same chunk of wood to ensure the pieces reacted equally to the climate. Each Doll was hand turned with skill, instinct and expertise rather than using measurements.
THE PERFECT GIFT
The Babushka dolls are the ideal gift; they fascinate newborns, young girls and even your grandmother. The fascination of the Babushka dolls tradition is what makes these dolls so wonderful. The time, craftsmanship and detail that go into each babushka doll is amazing.