On one of his first trips to Russia, Clay brought back sets of matryoshkas for everyone, and they quickly became one of my favorite travel souvenirs (and he brings home fantastic things!)
I just love these little nesting doll sets. In the great long history of Russia, they're really pretty recent -- just dated back to the 1890's. The legend is that a Russian missionary monk brought home the idea from Japan, where they were called Fukurokuju, and featured the Japanese god of happiness as the outermost doll, and other happy little figures inside. (The Japanese dolls had their origin in China, where intricate boxes that nested within each other have been popular for centuries.) Russians started carving and painting them to resemble country women (which is why they are sometimes called babushkas, the Russian word for grandmother, old woman or headscarf), with each doll in the set identical to the others, but soon they took on religious, historical and political themes, as well.
This is a traditional set, where the faces and costume remain the same, but there is a Russian tale or legend being told on their torsos -- I'm still researching to find out the story. Any Russian scholars want to help me out?
This religious set starts with Mary and baby Jesus, then Jesus as a man, two other saints (probably Russian favorites like Nicholas, Peter or Basil) and then Jesus as a boy (I think.)
As a musician, I love these dolls -- I'm not sure Clay realized they were musicians when he bought them, but it seemed like such a thoughtful gift. The biggest doll is playing a balalaika -- a triangle-shaped guitar. The second is playing an accordion -- in Russia, these are called bayan, if they have buttons -- there don't appear to be any buttons on this one, so you might just call is a squeezebox. The third has a zither, and the little two cuties are singers. I think.
So now, people who know how much I love these little babushkas gift me with lovelies like these:
Cute measuring cups
Cupcake papers from my friend, Cathy
(I'll definitely be taking Babushka cupcakes to our next Council meeting!)
And more adorable measuring cups.
These are ceramic and a gift from my friend and pinterest pal, Lauren -- how cute are these?
I have made one matryoshka quilt and have fabric for two more:
Kokka Japanese fabric which I purchased from fabricworm
I once gave a children's message at the Methodist church using my matryoshkas -- I wish I could remember what I said, as I'm sure it was very deep with many layers of meaning. (What a comedian!)
Maybe I need to work on a matryoshka-focused story . . .