Dear Diary: Russian Nesting Dolls – what do they represent?

Russian Nesting Doll (single)

I have a great fascination for nesting dolls, you know, the ones where one doll fits into the other?

Did you know that nesting dolls are the best known and most popular of all Russian souvenirs? Apparently, the Russian word for these wooden dolls is matryoshka, but they are also called matrioshka, matreshka, matriochka, babushka or babooshka dolls, babushka’s doll, matroshka, matruska, matryushka, and stacking dolls.

No matter what you want to call them, nesting dolls have a fascinating history and they are the classic Russian gift. You cannot visit Russia without bringing at least one set home with you.

The most traditional nesting doll design is the one that looks like a young Russian woman dressed in Russian native costume with a scarf on her head. In the traditional nesting doll sets all of the dolls look almost identical to each other, and the number of dolls in the set ranges from 5 to 30, but some custom made matryoshkas contain many more. In some cases, the set forms a theme, like the classing sets of nesting dolls of Russian leaders, with each earlier leader nested inside.

Russian nesting dolls make wonderful gifts, and are traditionally given on many kinds of special occasions. For example, they make:
• Beautiful wedding decorations
• Housewarming gifts
• Children’s toys
• Mother’s Day and new baby gifts
• Collectibles

“Matryoshka” are Russian wooden dolls with smaller dolls stacked within the bigger ones. In provincial Russia before the revolution, the name Matryona or Matriyosha was a very popular female name. It was derived from the Latin root “mater” which means “mother”.This name was associated with the image of a mother of a big family who was very healthy and had a portly figure. It became a symbolic name and was used specially to describe brightly painted wooden dolls made in such a way that they could be taken apart to reveal smaller dolls fitted inside one another.

Nesting dolls are considered to be a symbol of motherhood and fertility. A mother doll with numerous dolls (children) perfectly express the oldest symbol of human culture.

Russian Nesting Dolls (3)

One of the most widely spread errors in this area is the use of the word “babushka” to designate a nesting doll. In Russian language the word means “grandmother” and many, by association, believe that “babushka” stands for a “little grandmother doll”, which it is not.

Various types of nesting dolls are distinguished by the way their aprons are painted. For example, some nesting dolls have architectural monuments on their aprons. Such nesting dolls are a wonderful souvenir which reminds us of this or that historical place.

The modern nesting doll absorbs in certain ways the treasure of folk Russian art traditions. Author’s nesting dolls are very expressive and energetic. We can see dignity and humility, power and hope for the future, deep sorrow and boundless hilarity in the Russian painted nesting doll . . . time goes on and the new generations are impressed by the talent and imagination of the creators of folk and author’s nesting dolls. It is from this source that they derive the power and energy for their own quest and achievements.

The nesting doll is a huge artistic event which requires comprehension. It is both a sculpture and a painting – the image and soul of Russia.

Dear Diary: Don’t quit in anticipation of future failure


This post was inspired by an article I read recently which can be found here

Looking at the United States Navy Seals training, there are some who make it through the demanding training and those who don’t – why?

What stood out for me in this article was the following:-

The vast majority of Navy Seals in training don’t quit during the training. Most quit during breakfast or lunch. They quit “in anticipation of the difficult conditions to come”.
I don’t know about you, but I tend to be like this too. I have so much negative talk going on inside my head that it is easier to convince myself that I cannot do something than to convince myself that I can.

They self-eliminated, not because they did not have the abilities to perform the tasks, but because they feared that the challenges to come would be too difficult and they would fail (and fail in front of their peers).
How about you? Do you feel this way too? I know I do sometimes. My father was a perfectionist and nothing was ever good enough for him. He would tell me I could not do something before I even tried which resulted in me, many times, not even trying for fear of failing and hearing my father utter the words “see, I told you so” and also having my peers laugh at me.

This article goes on to speak about some curious factors that help predict success for example:
Competitive athletes who also excelled as chess players are three times as likely to graduate as those who did not play chess. Why?

Chess players are always thinking two or three moves ahead. They are not concerned with the current predicament, they are less emotional, less knee-jerky and are always thinking about long term problem solving i.e. they don’t quit before they have even started.

The key message from this article is: DON’T QUIT!
Don’t quit in anticipation of future failure. Decide now not to quit, decide to keep going with the confidence that you can do more than you think you can do, in spite of the pain, the cold, the heat, the sand, fatigue or whatever it is you will inevitably face.

Use your power of choice to decide that you can make it through – even the most challenging times.

Whether you think you can or think you can’t, your right.
– Henry Ford