Russian Traditional Souvenirs

Loveable Russian Nesting Dolls


Russian Matryoshka Set
Russian Matryoshka Set

It is not an exaggeration to say that the Russian Matryoshka Dolls are Russia’s most exported and recognizable souvenir across the world. These dolls have become the universal symbol of Russian motherhood.

You could say the nesting dolls were born through the love of a group of artisans and craftsmen that wanted to preserve peasant crafts before they died out. In 1890 the first Matryoshka dolls saw the light in Sergiev Possad, not far from Moscow.

The concept of the nesting dolls is both simple and innovative. The dolls are hollow and each in the set is smaller than the other and all fit into the main doll. So literally the “little mother” is carrying all her children inside her. Traditionally the smallest doll is not hollow, but solid and is painted to represent a tiny baby.


The Matryoshka dolls are unique in several ways. Craftsman today make them with the same techniques as they have been made from the start. The wood used is Aspen, Alder and Birch that is left to mature for 2 years before being used and then the tools used are the lathe and carving tools. There are no specific plans for these dolls, so the number of dolls in a set depends on what the artisan decides as well as the size of the set.

Originally the nesting dolls followed the concept of the mother with her children and as such each were painted to represent a different member of the family. This is still today the most popular doll sets that people from across the world demand.

Over time though, other themes have been used, such as scenes from legends, Russian fairy tales as well as historic scenes and religious scenes. Celebrities and Lenin has also been immortalized in Matryoshka dolls. Collectors today are always on the look-out for old and valuable sets such as the sets depicting Russian noblemen, the Boyars and these sets fetch large amounts of money when sold.

Folk Art and Souvenir

Today there are three main centers where Matryoshka dolls are manufactured; Semionovo, Sergiev Possad and Gorodezt. Even though it is often difficult to get the raw materials needed, the craftsman in these centers continues to create these unique and endearing dolls. The majority of people that visit Russia make sure that they bring at least one set of Matryoshka dolls home. Few articles in the world encompass folk art, souvenir and great appeal to young and old.

Russian Nesting Dolls
Russian Nesting Dolls