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Russian (ethnographic) dolls of G. Maslennikova

The traditions of the artel production of the Russian art dolls were lost at the beginning of the 20th century. Nowadays, a hundred years later, they are resurrected by the master Galina Davydovna Maslennikova who is one of the most famous Russian doll artists.

Galina Maslennikova comes from the famous dynasty of the Dumnovs textile manufacturers. In the middle of the 19th century Galina’s great-great-grandfather, Ivan Fadeevich Dumnov, was one of the first people in Vladimir land who organized the production of silk velvet, plush and various silk fabrics in the village of Zarechye (Pokrov district in the Vladimir province). These handmade fabrics were delivered to the most expensive stores in Moscow, St. Petersburg and even to the royal court. Hand weaving machines were installed in the so-called "svetyolka" factories – peasant houses with a large number of windows so that there was enough light for the weavers to work. Several generations of local families worked in the factories.  

In the early 2000s G. D. Maslennikova bought her ancestral home from the state, restored it with historical accuracy making use of family documents, stories and gifts from the oldest villagers, working for several years in the archives of Vladimir, Kirzhach, Moscow. In the peasant house near the mansion of the Dumnovs’ estate in Zarechye, the largest exhibition of dolls authored by Maslennikova was located – "The World of the 19th Century Russian Village".

Like a hundred years ago, the dolls are made by the artel, manually. The labor of 10-12 people is required to make each doll. All the dolls have porcelain heads with different facial expressions. They are dressed in Russian folk costumes worn in the former Pokrov district. Doll clothes are reproduced with historical accuracy. In the manufacture of household items of the Russian puppet village (furniture, spinning wheels, baskets, sleds, bast shoes, felt boots, samovars, etc.) craftsmen from the places where the corresponding folk crafts exist are involved. Only natural materials are used (clay, birch bark, bast, wool, silk, etc.). Compositions with dolls – "Peasant house", "Mill", "Fair", "Winter Games", etc. – vividly reflect Russian folk traditions and life.  

Ethnographic dolls from the workshop of Galina Maslennikova are of high educational and cognitive value. They provide excellent educational material for children's institutions and schools that study the Russian folk culture.

The high artistic level of the dolls allows G. Maslennikova to get diplomas and awards at many prestigious exhibitions and competitions in Moscow and abroad. The master’s puppet compositions can be seen in the museums of Moscow, Vladimir and other Russian cities, as well as in Japan, America, Austria, France and Germany.

The Russian dolls made by G. Maslennikova have been highly praised by experts and are classified as products of the Folk art craft.

Author: V. Korolkova