Russian Matryoshka Nesting Doll: Old-Style Toys

January 2015

Unique wooden items of Kursk craftswoman Olga Danilchenko are held in private collections throughout the world. Her nesting dolls, painted eggs, puppets and jewellery-boxes are made in the original Russian style.


The family of Olga Danilchenko's has several generations of craftsmen. "My grandfathers, one of who lived on the Volga River and the other in Siberia, loved to do it yourself," Olga says. "They used to cut and carve children's wooden "fun" toys. I've followed in the steps of my grandfathers." She painted her first Matryoshka nesting doll over 20 years ago. Her main professional mentor who cultivated the passion for folk art was Ravzaliya Ibragimova. She taught her the basics of art painting, showed how to lacquer, starch and dry items in a proper way.

The nesting dolls wearing rouge, caftans and aprons, kerchiefs and sarafans are unparalleled Russian Matryoshkas. Their maker pays a special attention to national costumes rich in flowers, berries, dots and twirls. To attain the accuracy of details she studies much historical and fiction literature, visits museums and exhibitions. Thanks to painstaking work and passion her toys retain warmth and humanity.

Over the years, Olga has crafted over four thousand toys. A larger part of them ends up at homes of her friends and acquaintances; some are taken to other cities and even to other countries. For example, Cat Bayun, a personage of a Russian fairy tale, is held in the collection of Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Olga Danilchenko shares her Russian toy making skills with pupils. "It is very important to teach the folk craft in every school to preserve our culture and to give knowledge of our best ancient traditions to children," the craftswoman says. "The passion for homeland can be expressed in music, painting, and literature and even in toys..."

русские народные игрушки