A matryoshka doll also known as Russian nesting/nested doll, refers to a set of wooden dolls of decreasing size placed one inside the other. They are sometimes incorrectly referred to as “babushka dolls” (grandmother doll) .
The first Russian nested doll set was carved in 1890 by Vasily Zvyozdochkin from a design by Sergey Malyutin, who was a folk crafts painter at Abramtsevo.
Traditionally the outer layer is a woman, dressed in a sarafan, a long and shapeless traditional Russian peasant jumper dress. The figures inside may be of either gender; the smallest, innermost doll is typically a baby turned 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, aside from the typical traditional peasant girls, the themes vary, from fairy tale characters to Soviet leaders.