One day, the Japanese sage Daruma turned into a peasant woman, Matryona, a matryoshka doll that many foreigners call the most beloved Russian souvenir.
the painted beautiful girl came to us, not changing at all, from the cherished antiquity, from the epic and fairy-tale world. But in fact, in the old days in Russia, no one heard anything about the matryoshka: the first detachable wooden doll was made in a Moscow workshop only at the end of the 19th century, and even - scary to say! - it was a copy of a Japanese figurine.
It was like this. In 1891, one of the guests from the island of Honshu brought an unusual wooden figurine to the famous Abramtsevo estate, owned by Russian industrialists and philanthropists Mamontov - with a "surprise". It could be divided into two parts to reveal another hidden figurine, smaller. And that, in turn, also consisted of two halves ... There were five such figures in total, and the toy itself was called Daruma - that is the name of the god that brings good luck in Japan. & nbsp;
Russia. A giant nesting doll at Adler International Airport. Photo: Murad Sezer/Reuters
Frankly speaking, this character is not from a Russian epic. Daruma spent his whole life in a cave, where he indulged in reflection and meditation. Therefore, the god is always depicted with a stern, concentrated face, without arms and legs (in fact, they withered away as unnecessary), and the figures nested in each other illustrate the five stages of his path to enlightenment. Fortunately, the matryoshka took over only the form from Daruma, and left its stern appearance to its Japanese progenitor.
At that time, the Abramtsevo circle was attended by many Russian painters who preached the idea of reviving the “truly folk style” in art. Regarding the "sending" of the matryoshka "to people", there are several different versions. One of them says that once the artist Sergey Malyutin, who was visiting the Mamontovs, picked up a painted Easter egg and a figurine of a Japanese Daruma. It seemed to him, as a creative person, that two toys made in different parts of the world could be combined with one idea. I thought - I did it: I quickly drew a funny doll on a piece of paper, then again and again ... In the end, when his idea was realized on paper, Malyutin asked a certain turner Zvezdochkin to carve a form from wood, and the artist painted it. So a ruddy girl in a sundress and a scarf, holding a black rooster in her hands, was born. Several other smaller figurines were also hidden in this figurine - seven figurines. The last, eighth, depicted a swaddled baby. Who called the creation nesting dolls is not known for certain. They say that someone, seeing her, exclaimed admiringly: “Well, just Matryona!” So the origin of the peasant woman Matryoshka is not at all plebeian, according to this version of the presentation of events.
Still, it is surprising how quickly the emigrant doll took root on Russian soil. The eastern section of the eyes was replaced by huge blue eyes, the nesting doll acquired a blush all over her cheek and golden curls, and she completely forgot about her Japanese past - and does not remind anyone of it. Just 10 years after its appearance in Russia, the matryoshka as an original Russian toy received a gold medal at the Paris World Exhibition of 1900!
Some nesting dolls are real works of art. Photo: Henry Romero/Reuters
After the resounding success in Paris, a real “matryoshka boom” began. Foreign orders poured in, and entire craft artels took up the manufacture of a popular export product. The first matryoshka workshops opened in the town of Sergiev Posad near Moscow, the largest center of Russian icon painting. According to tradition, women painted clothes, and men painted faces of dolls, because only men, according to the church canon, learned to paint the faces of saints. , characters of epics and fairy tales. Historical themes were popular: in the womb of Napoleon's nesting dolls, his entire headquarters from the time of 1812 fit, and inside Kutuzov - the headquarters of the Russian army. Matryoshka dolls were not cheap, but the number of orders was constantly growing. Interestingly, already in the 1910s, several German firms carved and painted wooden dolls, passing them off as "genuine Russian nesting dolls." R.-M. Rilke and Herbert Wells. It is known for sure that nesting dolls were among the toys of the children of Tsar Nicholas II - they probably brought them from a pilgrimage in the Trinity-Sergius Lavra. local folk crafts. And today one can unmistakably determine where this or that matryoshka came from.
Sergiev Posad craftsmen paint nesting dolls in their own way - as if they dress the workpiece in paint, leaving no gaps of bare wood. By the way, this technique is borrowed from icon painting. On the shoulders of the beauty is a scarf, in her hands is a samovar or a basket, for which the people affectionately call her the “hostess”. In the 1910s, Pavloposad nesting dolls came to the Nizhny Novgorod fair, and over time, their nesting dolls began to be made in several local villages at once. The most famous dolls come from the village of Semenovo. They differ from Pavloposadsky ones in more sonorous colors, contrasting combinations of blue, red, green. Semyonovskaya matryoshka certainly holds a bouquet of bright flowers in her hands. Interestingly, it is the local craftsmen who hold the record that got into the Guinness Book: the largest - 72-meter - giantess matryoshka. It was made in Semyonov as a gift to the Japanese government. The city of Vyatka has developed its own, "northern" style of nesting dolls, and it has a special name - "Sudarushka". The "sudarushka" has blond hair and blue eyes, and her outfit is sure to be decorated with a pattern of golden straw.
There is still some unsolved mystery in the matryoshka. Photo: Ints Kalnins/Reuters
Each matryoshka doll has two creators – a turner, who carves the wooden base, and an artist, who “enlivens” it with painting. The best material for nesting dolls is soft, pliable linden, less often - birch or alder. The tree is cut down in April, when it is filled with spring juices, cleaned of bark, then for another two long years they patiently “stand” the workpiece in the open air - the trunk should dry out properly, to the very core. Dolls are carved “in ascending order”, starting with the smallest, so it is easier to perfectly fit the sizes. Here you need a real professional - the manufacture of one round blank requires 15 operations. But there are more than a dozen dolls in a set! It is not surprising that every artist strives to find “his” turner, so that from the first steps the matryoshka immaculately falls into the size and shape of the painting conceived by the author.
not on the brink of oblivion. With the advent of Soviet power, private artels closed, the old masters left, and yet the secrets of the craft were always passed on only “from hand to hand”. In the 1920s, a special decree was issued that subjected the rows of nesting dolls to ideological cleansing. The "black" lists included not only "clerics and tsarist officials" (this is understandable from the point of view of the new government), but also completely apolitical "goblin and mermaids." “Seditious” dolls were removed from museum expositions, many unique pre-revolutionary exhibits were lost forever…
As a result, of all the variations of the matryoshka, only one remained - a steep-sided, pop-eyed young lady with circle-shaped cheeks and a frozen smile. Later, in the early 1950s, its in-line production was established. The largest industrial batch of absolutely identical nesting dolls (10 million sets) was produced in the Soviet Union in 1980, on the eve of the Moscow Olympics. And a few artels worked mainly on state orders: huge, artistically painted nesting dolls were often handed over by Soviet leaders to foreign guests as a diplomatic gift.
Shop with Russian nesting dolls in Prague. Photo: David W.Cerny/Reuters
Today, Moscow souvenir stalls are literally overflowing with matryoshka products designed exclusively for overseas guests: Disney cartoon characters compete with Russian rulers, beauties a la Gzhel "have long pushed back the shaggy Beatles. Someone draws quickly and inexpensively, someone - with a claim to artistry - that's why the prices are different.
Still, there is some unsolved mystery in the matryoshka. After all, they tried to paint detachable dolls in Germany, and in France, and in the same Japan. But foreign matryoshkas have not won wide recognition. Perhaps the secret of the Russian nesting doll is that it is always a fairy tale, told step by step, from the oldest doll to the youngest, precisely with Russian sincerity and invention?