Soviet Leader Nesting Dolls – In the Collection

There’s a pretty big collectors market out there for Russian Nesting (Babushka or Matryoshka) Dolls. And, if you search, a surprising number of them are various versions of a “Soviet Leaders” theme. I have no idea if this is a done in a mocking, jesting, or approving tone. Nor do I know why the particular public figures are chosen to be featured (in a fairly unflattering way). The previous owner of my set also told me that it was made in the Czech Republic (perhaps when there was also a “slovakia” attached), and any significance that has is lost on my American post-1990s brain.

The dolls themselves are fairly basic: the carving is unfinished (with a few burr,s here and there) on the inside and the paint is there but far from a masterpiece. I’m not quite sure who all of the people caricature-ized are, but after a little bit of research I believe from smallest to largest they are: Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, Gorbachev, and Yeltsin (Who potentially breaks the pattern by being president of Russia and not a Soviet Premier {He does have a Russian Federation flag that would indicate it’s him though}). And if I’m correct, they’re all roughly in chronological order, and some pretty important figures for Russians (though I personally don’t know much about Khrushchev). My absolute favorite has to be little itty-bitty Lenin. And slightly-bigger Stalin is pretty funny too.

I like to think that this is some form of political slight. I certainly would take it as such if they made me part of a Babushka doll set. That’s a joke I could get behind, but I’m willing to bet it’s both something meant to insult and endear, like bobble-heads of American Presidents. And like those, who doesn’t want a traditional Russian toy of traditional Russians looking traditionally silly on their shelf?

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