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THE SECRET HISTORY OF Matryoshka Dolls

How nested dolls emigrated from China through Japan to Russia

NESTED MATRYOSHKA DOLLS ARE popularly considered to be as Russian as croissants are French, clogs are Dutch or stiff upper lips are English. In fact, these enigmatic little artworks have quite an international background. The original idea for nested objects was born in China during the Song Dynasty (960 AD–1279 AD). Carpenters made boxes inside boxes, to symbolise ingenuity. Eight-hundred years later, the boxes had evolved into dolls – the smallest of which was so diddly it held just one grain of rice. The dolls migrated to Japan, where they were used to depict the Japanese Seven Lucky Gods.

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Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Lonely Planet - December 2018
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