Matreshki (1907)

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Mon Jul 29 00:15:40 UTC 2002

   I forgot to add that "matrioshka" has 5,150 Google hits.

by Alison Hilton
Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press

Pg. 127:
   The most famous type of wooden toy was the _matreshka_ (commonly rendered in English as "matrioshka"), usually shaped as a peasant woman in a _sarafan_, hollow inside to hold a whole series of smaller nesting dolls.  Legends about the origin of the form related it to an ancient mother goddess of Siberian peoples.  Travelers told of a mysterious golden statue, hollow and containing many layers of shells of gold.  Regardless of any ancient source, the wooden _matreshka_, comfortably rounded and containing a multitude of offspring, was a familiar symbol of fertility and security.  The idea of nesting figures may actually have come from Japanese toys.  The first documented Russian _matreshka_ was designed in the 1890s by Sergei Maliutin, a professional artist and member of the Talashkino folk art revival group; it was shaped on a lathe and carved by the carpenter Zvezdochkin.  This was an eight-piece doll, the figure of a woman in a modest _sarafan_ and kerchief, inside her a boy, then a girl, and so on, the smallest piece a baby in swaddling clothes.

by Wendy R. Salmond
Cambridge University Press

Pg. 85:
   The first new toy to be produced at Segiev Posad designed entirely by a professional Russian artist was the matreshka doll (Fig. 27).  (Pg. 86--ed.)  Contrary to popular belief today, the matreshka was not an ancient folk symbol or even a traditional kustar toy,(21) but was designed in 1891 by the young artist Sergei Maliutin for Maria Mamontova's Children's Education toy shop on Leontievskii Lane.(22)  In response to Mamontova's commission for a doll inspired by a Japanese nesting toy depicting the Sage Furkumu, Maliutin created a barrel-shaped peasant girl dressed in white kerchief and sarafan, red cheeked, broad smiling, and clutching a black rooster under her right arm.  This "matreshka" (the diminutive of Matrena, a common peasant woman's name) opened to reveal a girl, within which was a smaller girl, and so on, until at the very core lay a swaddled infant.
   Maliutin's design was produced and sold at Children's Education until 1898, when the store closed down and its stock, including the matreshka, was transferred to the Moscow zemstvo's workshop at Sergiev Posad.  The new toy immediately went into production at the training workshop, and as volume increased into the millions the painting and finishing of the dolls were entrusted to a separate workshop operated by the Ivanov brothers.

Pg. 228 (Notes):
21.  There have been several attempts to find the matreshka's origins in ancient folk culture, but the myth of the matreshka as an authentic kustar toy had taken hold as early as 1907: "Matreshki are rather reminiscent of the well-known nesting eggs (and) were actually developed from them.  Some shrewd kustar took it into his head to replace the egg with a fat conical _baba_ in a kerchief with a rooster under her arm."  "Kustarnoe tsarstvo v Sergievskom posade," _Niva_, 39 (1907), 642.
22.  Children's Education was founded in 1883 by Maria Alekseevna Mamontova (?-1904), wife of the publisher Anatolii Mamontov and Savva Mamontov's sister-in-law. (...)  Children's Education was represented in the Women's Section of the Russian Section at the World's Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893, along with the Moscow Kustar Museum, Abramtsevo, and a number of other kustar workshops operated by noblewomen.  See no. 620 in the section on women's work in _Catalogue of the Russian Section, World's Columbian Exposition, 1893, Chicago_ (St. Petersburg, 1893).

(I haven't checked that, but it's an early cite if there in 1893--ed.)

Pg. 232 (Notes):
87.  (...)  As an example of foreign sales on the eve of the First World War, the matreshka doll, produced at 30-35 rubles per hundred, retailed in America for $1.00 each (Vvedenskii, _U Sergievskogo igrushechnika_, 57).

(Again, OED's first citation in the revised entry is 1948, after the Second World War--ed.)

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