Friday, 1 July 2011

That Friday Feeling...1/7/2011

You may or may not know that I spent a long time living in Russia - a year in St Petersburg living with a Russian family while I was a student and then, when I had finished my degree, 3 years in Moscow as an English Teacher. Maybe I should post some of my photos on here at some point... I'll have to dig some of them out. But I digress. This week I thought I would do the same as last week; instead of having a theme of items, I would choose a subject and see what items I could find around that theme. And because I love matrioshka dolls, and I've been asked by one of the Yr 3 classes to come and talk to their kids about life in Russia, I thought that this week I would dedicate the Etsy shout-out post to Matrioshka dolls.

How cute is this bag by Overthegardenwall? You can see (& buy) it here

I need a new keyring - & these ones look like just the thing - especially the red ones!
Thanks Ricecakeshack!

I'm doing lots of sewing at the moment & this fabric is just so sweet!
Beautifulwork has lots of other matrioshka fabric designs too...
I thought as a quick finish to this week's shout out I would give a bit of a background to Matrioshka dolls... 

The first Matrioshka doll as we know it was carved in 1890 by Vasily Zvyozdochkin and had 8 dolls - the outer one being a woman in traditional peasant dress, with girls and a boy inside. Like today's dolls, the innermost one was a baby carved from a single piece of wood. Nowadays they are usually female throughout but originally it was only the outer one that was female - the inner dolls could be either male or female.

There is some dispute as to how the original nesting doll came about; the idea for a doll probably came from a similar design from Honshu, Japan, but Russians had been making Easter Eggs with the nesting idea before the doll idea came about. So whether it is a Japanese or Russian invention is up for debate. What is certain though is that Russian Dolls took off quickly and are now the most well-known Russian souvenir. Traditionally they have either 8 or 5 pieces but I have one that is 11 pieces - the smallest one is smaller than a grain of rice and is beautifully ornate. 

The name Matrioshka is an amalgamation of the name Matryona / Matriosha which was quite a popular name among the serfs during the late 1800s. It conjures images of motherhood being also related to the word mat' meaning mother and mater (Latin). As the outermost doll is usually a woman and it tends to be a microcosm of a family, Matriosha seems fitting - the 'ka' at the end is a diminutive: in Russian my name is Sasha but I'm known as Sashinka = little Sasha (term of endearment).

Nowadays you can get all sorts of different Matrioshka dolls as tourist souvenirs - I've had one with different presidents of Russia and I bought my sister a Leornardo diCaprio one with 5 dolls featuring his different looks in different films! Lenin is a popular version as well...

So there you have it: a very short background to Russian Dolls. By the way, they are apparently also known as Babushka dolls. I've never heard a Russian say that about them - Babushka means Grandmother and it doesn't really apply.

9 comments:

PoetessWug said...

No I didn't know this about you! It fascinates me more that you are a teacher, than where you taught! I love teachers. A molder of minds and such. :-)) {I'm a teacher too...Bible teacher}...My girlfriend went to Russia for one of our Conventions and she brought back a Matrioshka doll (or is it referred to as a 'set' of Matrioshka dolls). It was intricately painted and beautiful. Good choice for a feature! :-)

CatR said...

I didn't realise it was 3 years out there... time flies. Really interesting post about the dolls, I didn't know Russians didn't call them Babushka dolls.

Once Upon a Time in the North said...

Just popped over to say 'Hi'.

This is such an interesting blog feature. I love, love, love Russian dolls and have often wondered where the name Matrioshka came from. Now I know!!

Cheers!

Creating Trouble said...

Hurray! I love Matrioshki too - Debbie it's normally just called a matrioshka...
Glad you like the post - think I'm going to have a themed post each week :-)

Debbie said...

Interesting post and lovely items! :)

Debbie x

bluedaisyglass said...

I love the idea for the post and this was a really great choice. It's really interesting to find out a bit more about folks. I was a teacher too and I used to work in an environmental education center in Georgia USA for 3 years.

mosaicology said...

Very cute! I like the arrangement and colour.

Melissa said...

I love those dolls and that purse is adorable! Your etsy looks cute, too. I'm going to check it out.

kate said...

I love Russian dolls! What a fun post!

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