Product Focus - The Russian Doll

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Bright, bulbous, beautifully curved emblems of women.
Rosy cheeked, long-lashed and bight-faced.
Decorated with decadent colour and intricate pattern.

It’s an image known all over the world, one adapted and adopted by artists and cultures old and new. The Russian Doll. But what does it mean? And why does a 19th century relic of Russian family matriarchy still resonate so much with us now? 

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The first ‘martyoshka’ doll was created in 1890 by a Russian industrialist and patron of the arts. Literally meaning ‘little matron’, its name also translates to ‘respectable lady’ or ‘mother of the family’.  Traditionally, the outer doll is always a woman – the babushka – and nesting safely inside her is 7 smaller dolls, depreciating in size until the ‘seed’ at the very centre.

Each set is handmade, entirely unique – just like any family – with the smallest doll, usually depicting a baby, carved from a single piece of wood. Since its first inception, there have been thousands of experiments in size and colour, style and artistic handwriting, the record set at an eighty-piece nesting family. 

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And now the image itself has become a symbol. And an infamous one at that. Hell, it’s why we made a pendant out of it. But does it mean different things to different people? It got us all kindsa curious, so we did some digging:

A symbol of female fertility – the Russian doll, at the heart of it all, is a celebration of women’s health, the effing miracle the female body is capable of performing and an homage to the importance of family. Making it a great emblem for all the momma’s out there, the creators of family. 

A Woman’s strength – the outer shell is rarely depicted as a male (unless it’s one of those novelty ones with the Beatles on it) and that’s for a pretty important reason. Not only does the Russian Doll depict the woman as the creator of family, but the protector of it. Nesting inside her are her children, kept safe by the power of her strength. So whether you’re a mother or not, the Russian Doll is an image indicative of the inherent power of the female.

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Personal growth – it’s also argued that the Russian Doll has another, less obvious meaning. It’s proposed that each doll is the layers of a single person, a depiction of our entire selves as we grow, learn and evolve throughout our life spans. The different iterations of our personalities shed skins and grow bigger, stronger outer shells, until we present the polished version of ourselves – fluttering eyelashes, flushed cheeks and all. The ‘seed’ – the smallest doll – is a symbol of our soul, the purest and most innocent part of us, the real essence of ourselves, protected by the layers of life lesson’s we build around it. To truly get to know someone, you have to open each doll in turn and get to know it, learn its story to unlock the next.

Now, THAT’S pretty beautiful, right?

So, whether you’re a mother that wants to stack the Russian Doll necklace to represent your family – or a single, large pendant to proudly celebrate the innate strength of a female OR you want to layer them through your other pieces to hint at the layers of yourself you’ve created, the Russian Doll is the perfect personality pendant for you

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(all images found via Pinterest, rights reserved by original owners).

Carter Gore