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 Russian Nesting Dolls
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 Lacquer Boxes
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  Welcome to TolsToys
& Anastasia Fine Russian Imports!


Tolstoys and Anastasia Fine Imports have merged with Golden Cockerel so we can now offer you a wider selection of Russian Gifts Fit for a Czar than ever before. All of our products now ship from Boone, NC.
We are in the process of posting all items to www.GoldenCockerel.com, our primary site. This site is under reconstruction. Should you see any item here that you would like to order, please call customer service to place your order.




1.828.297.4653
 
  Holiday Nesting Dolls
Christmas nesting dolls

Christmas
nesting dolls
  Classic Nesting Dolls
Classic nesting dolls

Classic nesting dolls
Nolinsk dolls

Nolinsk dolls
 
  Storyteller Nesting Dolls
TolsToy's storytellers

TolsToy's Storyteller Nesting Dolls
Svetlana storytellers

Svetlana
Storyteller Nesting Dolls
Globes & carved nesting dolls

Carved nesting dolls
Paper doll books

Paper doll books
Doll & book sets

Doll & book sets
 
  Unique Nesting Dolls
Potbelly nesting dolls

Potbelly
nesting dolls
Nevelyashka

Nevelyashka
(bells)
Famous people

Famous people
 
Animal nesting dolls

Animal
nesting dolls
Micro Matryoski

Micro Matryoshki
 
Globes & carved nesting dolls

High end
Russian dolls
USSR period

USSR period matryoshki
Professionals

Nesting Dolls for Professionals
Woodburned dolls

Woodburned dolls
 TolsToys' News

The cross-cultural Christmas book about the Snow Maiden and the doll that features in the story are now available.
(see doll & book sets)






All TolsToys nesting dolls and other products are unconditionally guaranteed. If you are not happy for any reason, we will make it right, please just
contact us

We would also love to hear from you if you are a retailer and would like to carry our nesting dolls or other Russian items.
 
Give us a call to order!
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A BRIEF HISTORY OF NESTING DOLLS


Matryoshka dolls, or nesting dolls, are, in the context of Russian history, a relatively new phenomenon. They first appeared in 1899 in the city of Sergiev Posad, about 50 kilometers north of Moscow. Unlike many objects of folk art, nesting dolls were not a product of hundreds of years of evolution of a particular art form. Some purists maintain that matryoshki are not real folk art at all. The generally accepted story is that they were introduced into Russia from Japan and brought in by merchants. But nesting dolls were introduced into a fertile artistic soil and, once the seeds were planted, village artists quickly adopted them.

The first matryoshki consisted of three, six, and eight pieces. For some reason, the early nesting dolls depicted what appears to be a family without a father. They include males, but those males are clearly children. After producing the first nesting doll, the Children's Education workshop continued producing nesting dolls in Moscow until 1904. That year, all of the assets of Children's Education were transferred to a workshop in Sergiev Posad, which became, and still is, the center of nesting doll production in Russia.

In 1904, the workshops of Sergiev Posad received a large matryoshka order from Paris, and many of the masters of Sergiev Posad directed their talents to this new product. The order from Paris provided the stimulus for many of Sergiev Posad's artists and lathe operators to turn their attention to the making of nesting dolls. The nesting doll thus became simpler, more folk-oriented, and less expensive-the price fell by as much as twenty times. At the same time, the main theme became the female figure, and especially the peasant figure in peasant costume. "Matryoshka" is the diminutive of "Matryona", a common peasant name at the time.

Matryoshka dolls were made in a variety of shapes and with a variety of themes. There were cone-shaped nesting dolls, bottle-shaped nesting dolls, and nesting dolls with pointed heads. Some dolls took on the shape of the subjects they depicted. Themes that were depicted ranged from characters in famous novels to more common fairy tale scenes. Interestingly, many of the themes that are popular on modern matryoshki-political figures, fairy tales, and peasant families-which are considered new, were in fact subjects of some of the earliest matryoshki.

As the revolution approached in Russia, there were hundreds of artists making nesting dolls in Sergiev Posad. By 1911, there were forty-one nesting doll workshops in Sergiev Posad. Most, but not all, had lathe operators who turned blanks for matryoshki as well as artists who painted them.

Like much artistic activity, Russian matryoshka making continued strong for several years after the revolution of 1917. Toys were no longer imported, so domestic toys became more popular, and master craftsmen continued with their work. In 1918, a toy museum opened in Sergiev Posad. In 1922, a Regional Handcrafters' Union was created. The union's Russian name is an early example of a tongue-twisting Soviet acronym-Raikustpromsoyuz. This union coordinated the artels of the city. In 1926, it worked with six artels, combining the talents of 260 craftsmen.During this period, Russian nesting doll painting in Sergiev Posad became more uniform. What we now call the "traditional" Sergiev Posad nesting doll came into existence in the mid-1920s. It was roughly based on the first nesting doll painted by Sergei Malyutin, featuring a girl in a national costume, sometimes holding a small object in her hands-a chicken, a basket, a bundle, a scarf. The matte, dark feeling of the original was brightened up, and the wood-burned outlines were replaced with painted contours.

The activities at Sergiev Posad spawned other nesting doll-producing centers. Historically, much of Russia's commercial activity has occurred along the Volga River. The main stimulus for the expansion of nesting doll production to other cities and villages seems to have been the centuries-old market in the city of Nizhny Novgorod, the major city on the Volga, about 300 miles east of Moscow. (Like Sergiev Posad, Nizhny Novgorod was renamed for much of the Soviet period. It was called Gorky from 1932 until the early 1990s.) Craftsmen from Merinovo, near Semyonov, about 50 miles north of Nizhny, and Maidan, about 100 miles south of Nizhny, brought examples of nesting dolls from the market to their villages. These villages then began to produce matryoshki with their own distinctive features.


 

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