Russian Beauty

What is a typical old Russian conception of woman’s beauty? The ideal of a beautiful woman was considered to be a tall, strong and stately woman with red cheeks, blue eyes and blonde hair. Such women were well-represented by the renowned Russian painter, Boris Mikhailovich Kustodiev. Such woman’s beauty was also taken as a starting point for original matryoshka making.

In provincial Russia before the revolution the name Matryona or Matriyosha was a very popular female name. It was derived from the Latin root ‘mater’ which means ‘mother’. This name was associated with the image of a mother of a big family who was very healthy and had a portly figure. Subsequently, it became a symbolic name and was used specially to describe brightly painted wooden dolls made in such a way that they could be taken apart to reveal smaller dolls fitting inside on another.

The first nesting dolls of Sergiev Posad portrayed this special beauty: young girls dressed in Russian sarafans carrying baskets, scythes, bunches of flowers or dressed in winter short fur coats and scarves.


I love little dolls! We always called them babushka dolls, which actually refers to the scarf tied around the head, that is often depicted in nesting dolls of pheasant girls. This is my little inchie. I don’t usually put my inchies in a frame, but I found this frame and thought she would be cute in it!


One Response to “Russian Beauty”

  1. Deb M Says:

    Revisiting your blog today to see what’s new. Interesting history. I love these little dolls too!

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