Matreshkas, or nesting dolls, are the most popular national Russian souvenirs. Matreshka is a descendant of traditional peasant toys that parents used to make for their children. Nesting dolls have gained a wide glory all over the world.
Matreshka has come to us from hoary antiquity, from the world of legends and fairy tales. This wooden doll is «only» about a hundred years old. There are many versions of how and when it was born, but it is known for sure that its prototypes were brightly painted Easter eggs, which Russian artisans turned out on a lathe and painted since olden times. They were hollow inside, and the greater egg was placed inside the smaller one. A similar toy was in Japan, it represented a good-natured grey-whiskered old man Darumu, and it consisted of five figures put one into another.
In addition to the finely detailed painting, many matryoshkas include pokerwork. This technique of burning the wood was used to outline and further define various elements of the painting.