MANN+HUMMEL Russia has chosen its essential to go in the time capsule to celebrate MANN+HUMMEL’s 75th Anniversary. However, it’s not just one item – it is seven in one!

Let me explain how something can be one thing and seven things at the same time: we’re sending a set of Matryoshka dolls – carved wooden figures that fit into each other. They are a symbol of Russia and I am sure you have come across a set. You open the big one, you see a smaller one and when you open that one, there’s yet another one inside. On and on it goes, all the way down to a small, intricately carved final doll. The dolls also have several names; you may know them as Russian dolls, Nesting dolls, or Babushka dolls.

An instant hit

The first Matryoshka dolls were made by Vasily Zvyozdochkin, a wood carver and craftsman, and hand painted by Sergey Malyutin. The two got the idea from similar dolls made in Japan and started production in the late 19th Century. The Russian dolls had their world-premiere at the 1900 World Fair in Paris and were an instant hit. Production in Russia increased and soon Matryoshka dolls were being shipped around the world.

A set of dolls has a minimum of five wooden pieces. Depending on the skill of the craftsman and the size of the doll, the number of pieces can be as many as you like – the world record is 51! We at MANN+HUMMEL Russia have chosen a set with seven pieces with a design we think reflects the spirit of this large and diverse country – kind, open, and family oriented.

A design and theme for every taste

Matryoshka dolls come in various designs, colours, and sizes. The most popular motif is usually a motherly woman in traditional costume – in fact, the name Matryoshka comes from the Latin word mater, meaning “mother”. As pieces are still to this day hand-made and painted, you can easily identify in which region in Russia the dolls were produced; each has its own style of dress. Other classic designs reflect religious holidays, flowers, and animals. Nowadays, you can also purchase dolls with characters from famous films, popular actors or musicians, and even political figures.

You may think the Matryoshka dolls are just a tourist souvenir, but you would be wrong! I have some very fond memories of playing with the dolls at my grandparents’ house. Most households in Russia have a set of dolls which are either regularly played with by the children or are brought out for special occasions such as Christmas or Easter. Russia is a large country and it is items such as the Matryoshka dolls that unite us all.

Come and see our seven dolls in a row at the MANN+HUMMEL Technology Centre in Ludwigsburg. They will be on display to celebrate our corporate anniversary before being packed away, one inside the other, and put in the time capsule. We hope generations to come will enjoy them as much as we do!