Of course Russian dolls are brought as a souvenir but really the purpose in life is to charm, enlighten, educate and to amaze. The picture above is the one I brought at Kirkenes when we did some shopping at the tourist shop which was a few yards from the dock where the ship docked.
The traditional arrangement the otter layer is always a woman, dressed in traditional present dress with a scarf around the head. The other figures could be both genders, with the smallest is a baby.
The dolls are made out of wood and they are in several layers, as you open the biggest one at the middle, you will find a smaller one and so one until you have the smallest in the middle, all in a similar design or the same design.
They were first made in 1890 when both social unrest and emerging national identity for Russia. The development of the Russian style idea which became a Russian tradition. The inspiration for Matryoshka dolls came from Honshu, on the main island of Japan.
The other doll I brought was a Russian Rolly Polly called Nevalyashkas. Rolly Polly are traditional Russian toys, they don’t fall over but wobble back and forth ringing a little bell inside.
To make a Rolly Polly involves making a blank out of wood , taking off the wood from inside of the blank, putting a bell inside and then glueing both parts (lower and upper) together and then painting the outside, as you can see mine has a Christmas theme.