Russian Matryoshka Dolls
Printed outlines of Matryoshka dolls for each student
Real set of Matryoshka dolls or pictures of them
Tell the children that they will be learning about a children's toy from
another country across the world called Russia. Show a Russian Matryoshka Doll
and describe the doll as being native of Russia.
What the Matryoshka dolls are:
Famous the world over, the Russian nesting Matryoshka Dolls are a
favorite of young and old alike. The origin of the word "Matryoshka" goes back to
an old fashion name Matriona, commonly used among peasantry. Perhaps the
idea of nesting dolls came from the legendary idol from the Ural Mountains called
Jumala. It was made of pure gold, was hollow and included three figures, one
inside the other. The first four characters of Matryoshka word - "Matr" come from
the Russian word for "Mother", which gives them a whole different meaning. The
idea is that Matryoshka dolls represent the motherhood. This is why traditionally
the dolls were painted like women and every one is like a mother that has a baby
inside. The first dolls were made in the town Sergiev-Posad , former Zagorsk,
which is not far from Moscow.
Where they are made:
There are practically hundreds of villages where Matryoshka dolls have
been made for generations. Most of them are located in the European part of
Russia, around Moscow. There are a number of villages that are known for their
traditional designs. Here are some of them: Maidan, Kirov, Brest, and Semionov.
The designs made there inherited the name of the villages.
How they are made:
Every set is hand-carved and hand-painted. Most of the dolls are made
out of birch, although some are made of lime tree or other special wood,
depending on the technique the artist has in mind (wood burning, watercolor,
etc.). The whole set has to be made of the same chunk of wood. That condition
is a must and insures that every piece will react in the same fashion to changing
temperature and climate conditions. That fact imposes severe restrictions on the
artist. In other words, the artist assumes complete responsibility over every part
of the process. By making one mistake, the artist is risking to ruin the whole set
even if it is almost finished, which could mean losing months and months of work!
What is going on with the art now:
Beside the traditional designs, the new directions of this art have
developed for the recent years: unique collectible Matryoshka dolls. These are
made by individual artists and every one is one of a kind. There are hundreds of
artists, each one having unique styles, designs and know-how. The number of
dolls each artist makes is limited, because some of them are of complexity, that
the artist can not physically make more than a few a year! The collectible
Matryoshka dolls depict scenes from the Russian fairy tales, Russian churches
an architecture of the old Russian cites and towns, life scenes of the Russian
people and arts.
Making your own doll:
1. Have the students color all of the printouts of the dolls. They should
color the bodies so that they tell a story.
2. Cut all 5 dolls out.
3. Fold each on the mid-line.
4. Put the group together by sliding the smallest inside the second
smallest, and so on.