Tuesday, March 8, 2011

day 57 ~ matreeshka

"The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship." 

~ William Blake


Wikipedia says:

A Matryoshka doll, or babushka doll, are Russian nesting dolls which is a set of dolls of decreasing sizes placed one inside the other.

A set of matryoshkas consists of a wooden figure which separates, top from bottom, to reveal a smaller figure of the same sort inside, which has, in turn, another figure inside of it, and so on. The number of nested figures is traditionally at least five, but can be much more, up to several dozen with sufficiently fine craftsmanship. Modern dolls often yield an odd number of figures but this is not an absolute rule; the original Zvyozdochkin set, for instance, had an even number. The form is approximately cylindrical, with a rounded top for the head, tapering toward the bottom, with little or no protruding features; the dolls have no hands (except those that are painted). Traditionally the outer layer is a woman, dressed in a sarafan. The figures inside may be of either gender; the smallest, innermost doll is typically a baby lathed from a single small piece of wood (and hence non-opening). The artistry is in the painting of each doll, which can be extremely elaborate.

As metaphor:
Matryoshkas are also used metaphorically, as a design paradigm, known as the "matryoshka principle" or "nested doll principle". It denotes a recognizable relationship of "object-within-similar-object" that appears in the design of many other natural and man-made objects. Examples include the Matrioshka brain and the Matroska media-container format. The "matryoshka principle" is also an example of Mise-en-abyme. Compare Fractal.

The onion metaphor is of similar character. If the outer layer is peeled off an onion, a similar onion exists within. This structure is employed by designers in applications such as the layering of clothes or the design of tables, where a smaller table sits within a larger table and a yet smaller one within that.

gratitude ~ to my daughter for sharing her dolls with me
images ~ misha


  1. Very interesting, and wildly creative to make it a tree. :) I remembered some of these facts as I was reading the text; facts within facts within within... wow, I am a spent penny this evening. Sorry about the lack of zing but I dig the post!

  2. Hi Rick :)

    Wildly creative, yes, but it didn't turn out quite the way I envisioned and after spending more time than I had planned, I just went with what I had. The reactions from the children were fun, though.

    You are very generous to take the time to share these with me when you are in the midst of doing your spent penny impression.