A Lesson In Russian Dolls


Today I had the privilege of visiting a Matryoshka  factory but before I even discuss Matryoskhas  I want to talk about some lesser known Russian Dolls.


In good Slavic tradition this doll specifically has to do with the prospects of marriage. Apparently if a man and a woman have been seeing each other for a long time  and the man refused to marry the woman she could place this doll outside of his house. This would alert the rest of the village to his shameful behavior. Apparently the man then had two options, marry the woman, or be run out of town. Talk about family pressure.


To keep with the theme of marriage this doll was given as a wedding present and used as a cake topper at the ceremony. The couple would then keep the doll in their house and as they had children the strings between them would be added. It looks like this couple has two lovely children but I think my favorite part of the doll is some of the interesting design choices on the woman.


Our last wedding specific doll is the one showcased above. I’m going to call this one “The Housewife” because the point of the doll was to showcase that the newly married woman will need ten arms, one for cooking, one for cleaning, etc. etc. Apparently gettingmarriage used to be like getting a job.


One of my favorite Dolls was this wishing doll. Apparently it was traditional to make a wish on the doll and place it in a secret place in order to ensure that the wish came true. To be honest though this is one of my favorites due to gorgeously designed hair.


Like many other cultures, this doll is specifically used to bring rain. It’s adorable size and shape does remind me of a raindrop.


Another interesting concept is this doll which represents the young girl inside every grandmother. The ability of the doll to invert itself shows how “even if a grandmother has had seven sons she is still a girl.” (The tour guides words not mine)


This clever doll is filled with bristles like a broom thus turning the chore of cleaning into something adorable. Good to know parents have been turning cleaning the house into games since the dawn of civilization.


Another ingenious design was this table topper full of tea leaves. Simply pat the bottom and fill the room with the aroma of tea. I want maybe 18 for my dorm room.


And the last and most simple of the designs I got to learn about today. Event though this doll was a cleverly folded piece of fabric it just goes to show how when you’re young something that simple can be magical. This is also helpful for the parent due to the fact that it can also combat runny noses.

To end you also may be wondering why none of this dolls have faces? This is because their used to be a belief that if a doll had a face an evil spirit could over take it. Many of these dolls were used to ward off the evils of the world in addition to the uses above. These dolls are essential to, in my opinion, understanding the cultural norms of Russian history and I hope to one day fill a home with tea filled dolls.

One thought on “A Lesson In Russian Dolls”

  1. Thank you! This is great. I shared a link to it on the FB page, “My Antiques Identified”. Someone was asking about “marriage dolls”. The box their dolls were in looked like it came from Russia or Azerbaijan. An internet search eventually led me to your great blog.

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