matryoshka doll also known as Russian nesting doll refers to a set of wooden dolls of decreasing size placed one inside the other. The first Russian nesting doll set was carved in 1890 by Vasily Zvyozdochkin from a design by Sergey Malyutin, a folk crafts painter. Traditionally the outer layer is a woman, dressed as a traditional Russian peasant. The smallest, innermost doll is typically a baby carved from a single piece of wood. Much of the artistry is in the painting of each doll, which can be very elaborate. The dolls often follow a theme, from fairy tale characters to Soviet leaders.

My own matryoshka doll from Ukraine is usually nestled between two volumes on my library shelf: Arthur Gordon’s A Touch of Wonder, and A Treasury of Religious Verse. But now on display during this season the largest doll tells the story of Christ’s nativity . . .


. . . and, un-nested, the story of his subsequent life on earth unfolds, culminating in the Crucifixion and Ascension.


Merry Christmas to One and All!