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Contrary to popular belief, the correct name is actually 'Matryoshka doll'. But of course, babushka has a nicer ring to it! Alternative names also include 'Russian doll' or 'Russian nesting doll'. Either way, 'matryoshka' is Russian for "little matron".
Ever wondered why those dolls were so round and curvy? Well, much like the traditional preconception that a woman with a fuller figure is able to have more children, the Russian babushka doll portrays this belief - as a symbol of fertility, maternity and of course, family. And as the dolls stack, we can see this growth.
In 2003, artist Youlia Bereznitskaia hand-painted a 51-piece set of Babushka dolls, which made The Guinness World Records as the 'Largest Russian nesting doll'. The tallest doll in this set measured at 53.97cm high.
From movies and popular holidays to even astronauts and politicians, Babushka dolls have been re-created several times to represent special occasions, famous people and sometimes religion. In the beginning, major influences were more traditional like fairy tale characters but now, this inspiration is vast and creative.
While most would've used a Babushka doll as a toy when they were young, they're actually meant for much more than games. As part of a longstanding Russian tradition, Babushka dolls are given as a gift at Housewarmings, on Mother's Day and to newborn children. They're also bought as collectibles, and used to decorate at weddings and other special occasions.