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This condition imposes severe restrictions on artist because that individual person assumes complete responsibility over every piece and every part of process. If s/he makes one mistake, a set can be ruined, even if it's almost finished, which could have taken months of work. And, indeed, some of more complex dolls are very collectible because artist can only make a few in a year's time! Generally speaking, matryushkas can contain from three to thirty pieces in a set that may take from five days to 18 months of work to complete. Prices range from $10US to more than $1200US.
To create matryushkas artisan requires only a small set of tools; this remains unchanged today. No measurements are taken, other than intuitive calculations of artist's well-trained eyes, and yet, they all fit perfectly inside other. Next an artist begins long process of painting and lacquering seemingly endless doll parts. The inside surfaces remain natural wood, and mating edges of each doll are treated with heat to harden surface and make assembly easier. When completed nesting doll is signed by artist.
Religious themes were considered very desirable for matryushkas until Romanov royal court was overthrown and country fell to communism. After that, in addition to peasant mother dolls, and to replace 'missing' religious icon dolls, political leaders, literary giants and sylvan scenes were usually incorporated into designs. Of course, today golden haloed religious icons are again created upon nesting dolls. Matryushkas range in size from 3/16 inch miniatures up to giants of four-feet or more. Most have three to ten pieces, but some unique examples have as many as forty nesting dolls, one within other. Modern day nesting dolls come in a great variety. Art dolls are typical, traditional floral matryushkas, each a work of an individual artist. They seem to boast an endless variety of colors and patterns, some more complicated than others. They are created with a main color theme - red, green or blue - and face painting uses light color of natural wood along with delicate paint and lacquer for a realistic look.
The floral patterns and colors are consistent between each doll in a set; even smallest doll has a face (though you may have to use a strong magnifying glass to see it!). Caricature dolls make light of an often dark world and include communist leaders, KGB agents, sports figures, even US presidents. Fairy Tale & Scenic dolls are special art dolls. Each nesting doll illustrates a different scene, telling whole story of a single Russian fairy tale. Today they even create dolls about Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland or Mary Poppins. The scenic dolls carry beautiful landscapes of Russian parks or landmarks like palaces, official buildings, historic sites and museums. Religious Icon dolls' most popular themes seem to be orthodox icons - Trinity, and Our Lady with Infant Jesus. Many artists develop themes celebrating orthodox holidays too, such as Annunciation, Ascension and Christmas. Art Masterpiece dolls celebrate world's art treasures by depicting a different masterpiece by a certain master on each doll.
Russian Writers dolls show fine-art likeness of authors of great Russian literature. On back of each doll is a landscape described in that particular Russian novel. Studying matryushkas is always interesting and instructive. Gathering a collection and learning backgrounds of art work provides information about history of Russian national costume, and Russian political history, art, literature, architecture and music. The complexity of matryushka design, from long before Victorian age to present day, lends itself to more dedicated collectors and connoisseurs of definite styles. These collectibles will continue to grow and become more desirable now that Iron Curtain has fallen and different examples of this type Russian art has become more readily available. With reasonable care matryushka can be handed down through family generations, an heirloom art piece. That is, unless you're more interested in Russian Papier-Mache lacquer boxes costing between $150 to $20,000. But that's another story. Happy Collecting!
JOAN BRAMSCH is a family person, educator, writer and E-publisher. Her articles appear internationally in print and online. Six of her best-selling adult novels - near one million copies - have worldwide distribution. Her Empowered Parenting Ezine serves 1000 parents around the globe. http://www.JoanBramsch.com mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org