HISTORY: Matryoshkas date from 1890. The story goes that Sergei Maliutin, a painter from a folk crafts workshop in the Abramtsevo estate of a famous Russian industrialist and patron of arts Savva Mamontov, saw a set of Japanese wooden dolls representing Shichi-fuku-jin, the Seven Gods of Fortune. Inspired, Maliutin drew a sketch of a Russian version of the toy. It was carved by Vasiliy Zvezdochkin in a toy workshop in Sergiyev Posad and painted by Sergei Maliutin. It consisted of eight dolls; the outermost was a girl in an apron, then the dolls alternated between boy and girl, with the innermost a baby. In 1900, M.A. Mamontova, the wife of Savva Mamontov, presented the dolls at the World Exhibition in Paris and the toy earned a bronze medal. Soon, many other places in Russia started making matryoshki of various styles. Modern artists create many new styles of nesting dolls. Today, many talented Russian artists specialize in painting themed matryoshka dolls that feature specific categories of subjects, people or nature.
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