Russian dolls have appeared more than 110 years ago and they are not a simple toy. Russian matryoshka is more than a wooden toy, it is the symbol of Russia. The ancestor of the Russian matryoshka was a Japanese machine-tooled detachable figurine Shichifukujin. Shichifukujin means “seven gods of happiness”. Russian machine-tooled matryoshka appeared in the store at the end of the 1890s, on the eve of the Paris World Exhibition of Industry and Commerce. During that period of time, in the toy-making production, a great attention was paid to the developing intellectual toys.
The Russian dolls easily and naturally taught a kid to identify the size of objects, their colors and forms. They helped to work out ideas about space and a feeling of composition. The first matryoshka had eight pieces. The creators are considered a well-known painter, Sergei Malyutin and turner Vasiliy Zvezdochkin. Unfortunately, there are no documentary evidences about the origin of the toy. The first figurine was rather funny and it didn’t open. Upon advice Zvezdochkin tooled it in other way and made it look like a human figure. Anatoly Mamontov approved of the novelty and passed Matryoshka Dolls for decoration to the painters who worked “somewhere in Arbat street”.
The matryoshka (nesting dolls) was successfully exhibited at the World Exhibition in Paris, in 1900 where it was awarded a bronze medal. It is possible that the Japanese mashine-tooled figurine influenced the concept of the first matryoshka. But its realization was carried out on the basis of the traditional folk craft. The Russian dolls were the result of the collective work of professional painters, handicraftsmen and organizers of the craft industry. The first decorated matryoshka was “the girl with a cockerel”. Most probably, the author of the decoration was Sergei Malyutin. The decoration of the first matryoshka doll is the image of a wide-faced, smiling girl dressed in the traditional sarafan, shirt and apron with a cotton kerchief on the head and with a cockerel in her hand. All subsequent seven nestled figurines represent peasant boys and girls dressed in the Russian traditional attire. The word “matryoshka” originated from the wide-spread name Matrena (ancient Matrona) which is translated from Latin as “mother of the family”. Matryoshka is short for Matrona.