Difference Between Babushka and Matryoshka

Babushka vs Matryoshka

A nesting doll is a doll that comes in two halves that can be pulled apart with more increasingly smaller dolls encased within one another. However, when you say nesting doll, one often thinks of Russia. They are the most popular and the most classic form of Russian souvenirs. These dolls look identical to one another, the most traditional Russian doll resembling a young Russian woman with a scarf on her head, dressed in a traditional Russian costume, the sarafan. These nesting dolls are often known as Matryoshka dolls, derived from the Latin word ‘mater’ meaning mother.  The article explores what babushka and matryoshka dolls are, to see the difference between babushka and matryoshka, if there is any. 

Matryoshka translates to little mother implying that the outer larger dolls hold their babies inside just like expectant mothers and that each daughter in turn becomes a mother in their own right. The largest doll is often seen as the grandmother with the future generations encompassed inside of her. This symbolizes value of family and also hope. Traditionally, matryoshkas were given to newborns to wish them a long and healthy life.

What is the difference between Babushka and Matryoshka?

There is no difference between babushka and matryoshka dolls. They are in fact, one and the same. Matrioshka, matreshka, matriochka, babushka, babushka’s doll or babooshka dolls, matroshka, matruska, matryushka and stacking dolls are some of the other words that they are known by. The number of dolls in one set may range from five to thirty, but there exists many custom made nesting dolls containing many more as well.

Babushka and Matryoshka dolls | Difference Between

The first set of Russian dolls was carved in 1890 by Vasily Zvyozdochkin as per the design of a folk crafts painter at Abramtsevo named Sergey Malyutin. However, the concept is said to have been originated from China where nested boxes have been known of since the 11th century. The artistry is truly in the painting of the dolls which can be very elaborate and usually follow a theme. These themes can vary from fairy tales to soviet leaders.

Modern matryoshka dolls are made incorporating various themes such as Christmas, floral, Easter, religious, animals or caricatures of famous personalities. As a metaphor, the matryoshka dolls are seen as a design paradigm known as the nested doll principle or the matryoshka principal. This represents the relationship of object-within-similar-object that naturally appears in many objects, crafted or natural. This is similar to the onion metaphor which is used by designers in layering of clothes the design of tables.

These dolls are crafted from one block of wood in order to create a proper fit as different pieces of wood would have different expansion-contraction characteristics. The production starts from the smallest doll to the largest. It is worthy to note that no measurements are done during its production process as sizing to fit is done by the eye. After the making, the dolls are painted as per theme and are nested within each other, completing the traditional babushka or matryoshka dolls.