Collecting Russian Nesting Dolls
Beautiful Russian Souvenirs
First the amazing Faberge Eggs
One of the most exciting things about visiting the country of Russia was the souvenirs that I saw everywhere. There are so many different types of souvenirs and they all have such great history behind them. The Faberge eggs are amazing and I saw the most beautiful ones that I have ever seen. Tsar Nicholas started the tradition by having them made for his wife Alexandra and she would always receive the most beautiful Faberge eggs from him.
At the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg they have the collection of the Faberge eggs that Alexandra collected. They vary in size from very small to extremely large. And they can be pretty expensive, let’s just say they can get pretty pricey the more detailed they are.
The Nesting Dolls
I fell in love with the nesting dolls from Russia. The nesting dolls are wooden painted dolls that come in different sizes and fit inside of each other. They are one of the oldest traditions in Russia and they are all hand painted and quite beautiful. Some are very simple and inexpensive and then there are those that are exquisite with so much detail; some can be laden in gold and you can find ones with various different scenes.
I bought quite a few of them when I went to Russia and gave them as presents to my family, and I have been collecting them ever since. My mother in law sends me a box of Russian chocolate and Russian nesting dolls every year for Christmas. It is such a beautiful gesture on her part and I love her for that.
Now the history of the nesting doll is quite interesting, apparently they started making the nesting doll back in the 18th century, and they were originally called “matryoshkas” but people mistakenly called them “babushkas”, because the origin of the doll was that they represented the simple pleasantly plumb peasant woman (boy say that 3 times) and her children, therefore the largest represented the woman and the others were the children. In Russian the word matryoshka means motherly and that is where the word for the doll came from; it is also the symbol for fertility in the Russian culture as well. Since “babushka” in Russian means grandmother, the name stuck as it looked like a grandmotherly type doll and was probably easier to say for Americans, because whenever I say babushka doll my husband corrects me right away.
The Nesting doll is really quite a remarkable symbol of Russian culture and tradition. Some of the earliest nesting dolls had pictures of fairy tales, war images and also biblical symbols as well. During the 1980’s, political nesting dolls were all the rage and you can still find nesting dolls with president faces on them. I have seen some with American Presidents as well. Sometimes the picture will be the same on all the dolls and some will depict a different picture on each doll, for example one of the prettiest nesting dolls that I have received was of the depiction of “Swan Lake” and it had a different ballerina scene from the play on each doll. This one is definitely my favorite one so far.
Now to collect dolls, you have to make sure that you are getting the authentic doll from Russia or Ukraine because you can find them all over the internet but you may discover that it was made in China, as so many things are. There are many dolls that you can find imported from Russia on EBay as well, but just make sure that you ask if the doll has been authenticated by the Russian symbol on the bottom of the large doll and there should always be the signature of the painter on the bottom as well. I have seen some that go for a few dollars and I saw a set last Christmas on EBay that actually sold for about $1200, so it just depends on the picture on the doll and how rare it is and how much a collector is willing to pay.