I've always had a real fondness for nesting dolls, or matryoshkas as they're properly called in Russian. My grandparents and parents all owned them and made sure they were always out, gathering dust, waiting for someone to come by and play with them. (Does anyone really ever play with nesting dolls?)
Later, as I got older, I started to inherit my family's dolls and collect my own, usually given out at Phillies, Eagles or Sixers games. (Yes, Dr. J was once the big-man who held all the other Sixers stars that season in his belly.)
The history of the matryoshka is a bit hazy, with different sources claiming different inventors. It seems nested boxes were first invented in China about 1000 A.D. Then, in the early 1800's the Chinese created wooden nesting dolls which were later perfected by the Russians at the turn of the century. One name that comes up a lot if you research nesting dolls is Sergei Maliutin, a painter from a folk crafts workshop in Russia who is said to have built the first real matryoshka in 1890. The name, matryoshka (pronounced ma-TROYSH-ka), comes from the proper name, Matryona or Matriosha, a name associated with a rustic (usually rotund) Russian woman.
Own a matryoshka that's particular interesting or special to you? Tell us all about it.