Hand Crafted Nesting Dolls

Note, the dolls are no longer for sale, for information purposes only.

Traditional Russian Matryoshka Dolls are made in many styles and sizes. In general there are two types of manufacturing. They are produced mass quantities using large staffs and basic automation, and by smaller more traditional groups of artists.

No-one knows when the first Matryoshka Dolls were made. However it is commonly thought that nested figures were first used by Chinese or Japanese monks. In any case Russian craftsmen have had a long tradition of making wooded objects that fitted into each other, such as Easter Eggs. Perhaps the first nesting dolls of this type were made by a famous Russian painter named Sergey Malutin. In the 19th Century he offered to combine two figures, Russian Christmas eggs, which nested together, and images of Chinese gods.

The combination of the nesting eggs and figure became the Russian art form as we know it today. The classic Russian dolls are of a figure of a girl. They were named "Matreshka" which is the traditional Russian "Matrena"

In the year 1900 the Russian "Matreshka" was awarded a medal at the Paris Exhibition of Applied Arts. Since then this lovely and entertaining art form has continued to win awards (and hearts) world wide.

The raw material used in making the dolls are Lime logs which are air dried for several years. It is very important that the wood be just right. If the wood is too dry they are prone to break while being turned on the lath. If the wood is too green the finished pieces will warp and not fit together (or come apart).

Certainly Russian craftsman have been making Matryoshka Dolls for many hundreds of years, at least back to the mid 1700s. These dolls carry a rich tradition and will tun into family heirlooms

Only an experienced craftsmen can tell when the wood is ready. The logs are then cut into sections for the dolls. Because of the deferent sizes of the pieces, varying lengths and diameters of wood are used to make each doll. Every piece passes through as many as 15 turning operations. The turning is all done by hand, and by eye. No measurements are involved. All of these operations require great skill and patience. The doll blanks are then allowed to dry before being primed and painted.

The nesting (stacking) dolls that you will see here are made by a small group of craftsmen in Saint Petersburg Russia. Their total monthly production is less than 200 units. Each of these dolls is carefully hand crafted from Lime wood and then painted. The larger sizes have 24K gold leaf to accent the face and head.

The factory that produces these fine art quality dolls is not surprisingly operated by trained artists. The factory was formed in 1991 and is named "Rainbow" (in Russian "Raduga"). The artist names are Mr. Berov B. A., Mr. Mazinin V. M., Mr. Loiko U.A., and Mrs. Medvedeva N. V. (Russian names list the sirname first and given names last). All of the artists have a degree in art education from Institutes in Saint Petersburg Russia. Repin Art Academy, Mukhina Art Institute, and Serov Art College, all of Saint Petersburg Russia are represented.

Because each of these dolls is made individually they have different colors and styles. Each of the artist is allowed to express themselves in each doll. Each doll is signed and (usually) dated by the artist.

The shape of the dolls varies with the wood that was used. The wooden parts are hand turned in the same way they have been for generations. You will be amazed at the delicate strength of the pieces, and how well they fit together.

Doll Types

Large 130mm 10 piece Matryoshka Art Dolls,

Medium 100mm 10 piece Matryoshka Art Dolls,

Small 60mm high 5 part Matryoshka Dolls,

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