OUT & ABOUT
By Gayle VanVooren, Mascot Editor
A Mother’s Day tea in Pipestone had me ‘on the road’ again this past week.
He was soooooo right.
It was another chance to visit with Mom, dress up a bit for a fancy party, and enjoy the mother/daughter relationship.
Entertainment was provided by Beth Erdmann of rural Balaton, who brought some of her collection of 300 dolls for a ‘show and tell’ program.
She had everything you could think of — from the popular cabbage patch dolls, to yarn dolls, to a corn husk doll, to an Elvis doll.
But the doll that struck me the most was her stacking doll. That got my attention right away.
My son gave me a gift of the Russian matryoshka dolls when he lived in Kentucky. A Russian store in his area carried them, and he just thought I would like it.
My matryoshka is of a pretty girl surrounded by purple flowers. She has an angelic face with golden hair and pixie mouth, and the set has 20 dolls nestled inside each other.
The first doll is quite large, but the smallest little wooden maiden is smaller than a pinkie fingernail. But it is painted as nicely as the outside doll.
Made of wood and delicately hand painted, these little dolls became an interest for me. I started to look for them, and now have six in my collection.
The nesting dolls, or matryoshkas, are probably the most popular Russian national souvenir. They date back to 1890 when the first one ‘was born’.
The end of the 19 century in Russia was a time of great economic and cultural development.
Sava Mamontov, an industrialist and patron of the arts, was possessed by the idea of the creation of a new Russian style. And the nesting dolls came into being.
The development of matryoshka greatly depended on the turners’ skill. Highly skilled masters learned how to create the thin, rounded wood, and painting was actually considered a secondary skill.
Matryoshka tell many stories. They can be like my first one — a replica from one doll to the next — or each doll can be different in the series.
You can now purchase these beautiful treasures according to flowers, animals, sport teams, traditional, Disney and cartoon characters, history and Christmas.
One of the sets that I have are porked, or burned. The wood shows through clearly, with the design burned into the wood and a beautiful gold detailing the headdresses and features on the little girl.
These little Russian treasures don’t take a lot of space to own. But it is in taking them apart, and realizing the intricate work, that is so amazing.
It’s no wonder these little matryoshkas are now a Russian ‘classic’. They are just beautiful.